Nine months ago we moved to Pittsburgh. We moved from State College/Happy Valley/Grad School Bubble to an intercity neighborhood in the midst of cultural transition. We moved to a neighborhood that is the definition of urban. Our neighbor on one side deals out his back door and the neighbor across the street is a college professor. Families like us move into renovated homes that previously were either burnt out or housed squatters. Our neighborhood is East Liberty and is colorful and alive and fantastic.
Grant and I are no strangers to moving, and certainly no strangers to moving into the city. But this is the first time we have moved with littles. And we found very quickly that these two babes changed a great deal about everything. Grant had already started his job, so I was alone all day with a 20 month old and a 2 month old in a new house, new city- and those of you familiar with Pittsburgh winters can feel my pain when I say that we were stuck inside.
I recognized that we were blessed- Grant got a great job right out of grad school, I had the option to stay home with the babes which I chose to do, our house was beautiful and we knew we were settled and could put down roots. But making friends proved to be much harder then it had ever been before. Promising conversations were interrupted by a babe needing to nurse, or the other one needing help reading a book. Dinners were early, to be kind to our babes, and after dinner drinks were traded off between Grant and I, as one parent usually had to excuse themselves to bathe and rock a child to sleep. The ways we had always made friends before were now fragmented and stressful. If we were invited to a show, we called Grant's cousin to babysit- and if she was busy, we had to decline. Double dates in dark neighborhood bars where intimate conversations are born were traded for drinks on our living room couches, whispering so not to wake up sleeping babes.
It was just hard. I went through my own personal dark night of the soul when I realized that my dear friends in State College could no longer show up and take a babe out of my arms so I could take a nap when I was exhausted. Phone calls to various places around the country where my tears flowed stopped feeling therapeutic after a few weeks. Panicked moments when I just didn't know what to do and needed to talk to someone who knew me and knew my babes- those are the moments when friends show up. And I didn't have any. It was terrifying to feel like I was doing this alone. I felt like a fraud every time I chatted with a new person and ended the conversation before I either had to admit I was on the verge of losing it, or lie and say everything was good. I started just trying to get through until 5 when Grant would walk through the door. I felt an immediate weight lifted the minute he walked in- he was so strong and I let him carry more then his fair share of family exhaustion.
That time is past now and we all survived. We are slowly making friends and we have accepted that this season is hard but beautiful. We give ourselves grace when we have to cancel dinner plans with new friends last minute because after a day of potty training, teething, dead car batteries and walking to work in the pouring rain, we just...can't...do it. We apologize profusely when we are late because Knox pooped all over the car seat cover and we had to at least sponge it off before putting him back in it to get to my brother's wedding rehearsal. I sometimes wear knee high boots in the summer because I didn't shave my legs and Grant almost left for work the other morning with his bow tie upside down. We are every TV show stereotype of a family with young children.
But here is the best part. We are making friends here that like us in spite of the fact that they come for lunch at 11 and eat at 1245. They come over for drinks on our back porch after the babes are in bed and end up feeding Knox Cheerios while they sip a beer because he chose their leg to pull himself up on. They come over for breakfast dates instead of happy hours and hold Knox for an hour while I use both hands to fold laundry. They set up sprinklers in their front lawn and airplane Pursy through the spray.
If you want to make me love you, love my children. Because there is nothing more dear to a parent then watching other people enjoy how great their babes are. Like this: