Iris is moving back to Canada in two days. She is six. Her parents, who have never married, came to NC on a sabbatical which has come to an end. I love their noncommittal marriage relationship, which has made the two more committed in a weird way.
As a Canadian in America, Iris became a kindergartner. My daughter was right by her side. I’ve been gifted drawings of the two doing such things as playing pugs, which I cannot explain the rules of, running around, and simply loving each other in the purest, unobstructed, unfiltered way. Of course that is unless one of them is on the bad pugs team, in this game of pugs. Then it’s the purest dislike only to correct itself once recess is over.
Kindergarten was bittersweet. My daughter was excited. I, on the other hand, was tired. Late bell rang at 7:50am. Lunches had to be packed. Homework, permission slips, library books, money for things. And then this- I was the room parent. In charge of bulletin boards, appreciation weeks, volunteering for the PTA, and emailing every one of the good pug / bad pug team’s parents. But, it gave me credentials. Teachers knew me. The receptionist holding her finger on the button to buzz me in the buildings knew me. The visitor sign in computer knew me. The damn president of the PTA knew me. And this is why I wrote my name on that line during popsicle party day to volunteer. I needed a village.
This need drove me leave San Diego. My high-rise condo downtown, complete with a whale shaped pool and valet. South view of Tijuana. West view of the bay. It was an amazing view. But none of this would raise a kid.
I had no motherly social circle in California. Nowhere would anyone have stopped to cradle a baby. I realized this as I started to show and bloat and swell and puke, and wear bathing suit cover-ups cause nothing else was so big and therefore so comfortable. I was in despair. I had never known such tiredness. I had never known the monster I could become at 3am, sleepy, thirsty, and desperately trying to feed a sleeping baby with my oversized, milk filled to the brim, it’s spilling onto my dress making wet circles, boobies. I had no idea how to escape. Except with a village.
And there I was six years later at a popscicle party hosted by the elementary school my daughter would attend, signing myself up for a larger village. This is what I had been searching for.
Play dates plus wine. Yes. Birthday parties plus champagne. Yes, please. Can we have a sleepover at our house? How fast can we get there. They not only provided the booze, but the understanding and conversation and occasional free night. I finally was building my village and loving its inhabitants.
As part of the good pug team ziplined across Iris’ backyard, slamming into the side of the house, parents were all gathered together in the kitchen for one last hooray. Socializing, drinking, eating spanakopita, listening to pugs slam into the house, and best of all, making friends. There I stood among three couples, sans partner, and watched how these people embraced me. Listened as they told their stories. Happily answered all the mom’s questions about being single. Where do you meet people? I would be so lost, where do you begin? Can I live vicariously through you? Because face it, I was still living the life they had a decade ago and for the first time, I realized my life is somewhat glamorous.