Next Stop: Batty

Hangin' by a thread, here. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Shhhh... Don't Tell My Best Friend

I hope every new at-home mom has a friend like Treacy (same name, I know...we did it on purpose). We were mere acquantances when we started jogging together to lose baby fat. Our firstborns were about 18 months old at the time, coveting each other's cheerios and sippies from the buckets of their repsective super-sporty jogging strollers.

Treacy was funny. It was nice to laugh -- and to talk to a grown-up. The kids -- her Luke and my Taylor -- hit it off immediately. "Jogging" quickly became "jogging with a playdate afterwards." That became "why don't you just stay for lunch?" Which grew into "leave your kid here, and go get some time to yourself." Then, it was, "I gotta paint the powder room; wanna help?" Or "If I don't wash this ketchup-smeared (insert ridiculously expensive Gymboree clothing item) now it'll stain. Can I use your washer, and do you have other stuff I can wash for you while I'm at it?" Then, "I'm re-doing your fridge. This top shelf is too crowded, the drawers are all wrong, and something is growing on your ham."

We had gone completely tribal. We didn't have two homes anymore; we had one home with two locations. We didn't each have a daily existence; we were in nearly every day together. And best of all, Taylor and Luke each had a spare mommy. (Later, when Carly was about 5 months old and did a face-plant while leaning forward in her "bouncy seat," she reached for Treacy through her tears! I felt so good about that (even though Treacy chose to calm my baby by explaining to her all about how it was her mommy's fault that she fell...))

The spare mommy thing was especially natural for us because Treacy and I had similar parenting styles. After all, hadn't we forged them together from nothing? I mean, when we started together, we actually believed we could lose that baby fat! Clearly, we knew NOTHING about motherhood. So, we figured it all out together and ended up a matched set. No matter where they turned, the children got the same answer. Even the dads were on the same page; it was "no popsicles before breakfast" all the way around. Poor kids.

Not so poor, come to think of it. Treacy and I brought out the very best in each other on the motherhood score. We believed in noise, adventures, squabbles, and messes. God, I loved that woman the day she babysat Taylor and let her wallow in mud to the magnificent extent that we subsequently had to hose the children down and throw the clothes out. The best meal we ever prepared for the kids was chocolate fondue. Nothing else, just the chocolate, the stuff to dip in it, and an afternoon when giggles reigned and time stood still. Luke often wore pink fuzzy slippers and dresses, and Taylor was naked much of the time. We taught them archery and finger-knitting. Together, we learned to let the children BE and to let them BECOME. And we loved the stuffing out of them. It was great, this tribal stuff -- the only way to do the at-home-parent thing, in my opinion. She was there for me in my darkest new-mommy hours, like:

Me: Taylor just threw a truck at my face and ran upstairs. Quick, what do I do?

Treacy: That depends; are we still not beating them? Seriously, you need a break. Bring her over and I'll take them to feed the ducks.

Gotta love being tribal.

When Taylor and Luke were three, Steve said he wanted to move for a job opportunity. I thought about leaving him and marrying Treacy, but decided, in the end, to stick with my guy. But those were some thoroughly yucky times. I hated telling Treacy, and when I broke the news to little Taylor, she cried and cried. Yuck-o-rama.

Treacy and I are still tribal on select weekends when someone packs up the minivan and declares a road-trip. Luke and Taylor are still best friends, and now Carly and Rylee (Treacy's little girl) are an uncommonly close tutu-clad and sticky-faced duo. They certainly add a whole new spice to the tribe.

And we are WAY tribal on the phone, still expecting the best of each other, still accepting the worst, and still not beating anyone.

Now that the kids are in school, I don't know if I need a local tribe. At-home-mommying is not nearly as relentless now. The urge to drink at noon has dissipated significantly. Still, something along the tribal lines would be nice, and (don't tell Treacy...) I have had a recent glimpse of it with friends Kathy and John. They offered me a carpool deal (like a recording contract or a publisher's advance, only much, MUCH better...) a while back, so now, they drive mine in, and I drive theirs out -- mostly. These folks pack lunches for my girls when I leave our lunchboxes sitting on the kitchen counter (where I'm quite sure they do nothing good for anybody all day long). They hand over breakfast bars when my child, who couldn't eat another bite 10 minutes ago is now on the verge of utter starvation. They take Carly for playdates so I can go on loving her like I do. Here's the kicker: how to put this?... ummm, well, to state it plainly, SH%T HAPPENED on their carpet once (my child was sick, she was SICK and don't you be judgin'), and Kathy and I scrubbed that carpet like it was no big deal, like it was... well, like it was not my child's SH%T on their white carpet. (Same child blithely and consciously peed on Treacy's couch once when she was definitely NOT sick, but that's another story involving another beating that might have happened but didn't because we tribal mommies really have it on the ball.)

Last weekend, since Steve was away, Kathy invited us for a drink-without-having-to-drive sleepover and boy, did that invitation feel tribal. And the other night, the girls and I invited ourselves for dinner, picked out a recipe for their vegetarian household, and then prepared and brought the dinner with us. That was tribal, too. But there was no chocolate, and we didn't cut each other's hair, so even if you slip and tell Treacy, I think she'll be okay with it.


At 8:15 AM, Blogger Shelley said...

Totally inspiring. Calling a mom to try to arrange a "hang out like slugs on the couch and let the kids go all free-range" dinner playdate thingee right now!

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Jo said...

Tracy - I gotta say I am thoroughly enjoying your blog - you are making me laugh; you are making me teary eyed at times! I have a tribal thing with all the other mommies who work 10 months out of the year - we just pack all of our adventures into the 2 months of summer! Wish we lived closer together...


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