On Sunday afternoon we had three friends and their littles over for four and a half hours. In that time we, as a group, cooked four freezer meals in bulk and made dinner for everyone. Our kids played, we took turns helping the kids and stirring soup, and we had a nice time. None of the families knew each other but I knew all of them. It was great and I’m glad because it was the first of a monthly event this group is starting. Once a month we will get together, make some food for our freezers for a month, and share a meal together.
The goal of this group is to create a village for our kids. To have families share in meals and kids play together regularly and make life easier for everyone. I am in another group like it – a group with weekly play dates. You go when you can (they are at different times and locations and on different days weekly) and you call out to them when you need help.
These groups are great and have led to me strengthening connections with some folks. Outside of them I have made some good friends – friends I still have to invest energy into but friends who we enjoy spending time with. Friends that have kids that Gus loves. Gus loves the kids in these groups, too. In addition to these things friends who we have long loved told us at their wedding last weekend that in a few years they hope to adopt a child around the same age Gus will be and can’t wait to have them be cousins.
In three weeks Gus will be two and I am just starting to feel like I have some sort of village. It’s still building but I see it coming. This is huge for me as the first 18 months of his life were filled with so much sadness. I lost my three best friends in those 18 months. The reasons for those losses I simultaneously understand and don’t. I know the reasoning and can get it but struggle because I just would have handled things differently. But it is what it is now. I miss my old friends. I miss the comfort of my friend’s dining room table where we spent so much of our lives together – laughing, playing games, sharing meals. I miss their kids fiercely. I miss the ease at which we navigated a friendship and the comfort of feeling at home with them. I miss my other dear friend – a friendship that disseminated in the spring. I miss her laugh and her stories. I miss her take on life and honestly, her support as she was my biggest confidant (something that actually led to the end of our friendship so I also miss trusting people fully).
I look at those old friendships and the new ones and they are not the same. I don’t think they ever will be. I don’t think I will ever stop missing the old ones. But these groups of people who fill our lives and our home with laughter are pretty great and much needed. The first two years of Gus’ life were marked with a lot of sadness and while I know I cannot avoid carrying some of that forward I am eager to move into the next chapters with it’s weight being less heavy.