I hate awkward pauses. Especially ones where a table full of people are looking at me waiting for an answer and I got nothing.
Thanksgiving break brings old friends around. Everyone is home for the holiday so it’s a great time to meet and catch up. Sitting at a bar we used to frequent often, I was having a great time with some of my old college friends and people I hung out with before I got married. I admit that after moving out of state right after the wedding, I hadn’t done a good job of keeping in touch with friends. So this was a fun night for me, several of these faces I hadn’t seen in years.
Some of my friends had new jobs or had recently become homeowners. Some of us were single, recently engaged or newlyweds. But only one of us had kids, though.
That would be me.
Maybe I should have prepared a little so I wouldn’t be so caught off guard. I was just excited to have a few hours to myself carrying a cute little purse instead of a diaper bag.
So it was inevitable that at some point, someone would turn to me and ask,
“So what’s new with you?”
The truth was there was nothing new with me. One of the worst things about seeing old friends is having absolutely nothing new to tell them.
I wanted to say that I’m a stay at home mom. I wear the same pair of jeans every timeI leave the house. I wear my hair in a big messy bun because I do not have the time or energy to blow dry it.
Work? No, I’m not working right now. Well, I’m technically working all the damn time but I don’t think they would understand what I meant by that.
Travel? It’s hard enough to go down the street to the grocery store with two young kids, you think I’m about to do some international flight with them? Do you have any idea how much STUFF these kids need? No Caribbean vacations coming up for me anytime soon.
“Oh, you know..nothing new.”
That was my lame answer. Nothing new. Nothing exciting. The fact that my toddler tells me he needs his diaper changed the moment he poops instead of sitting on it and smooshing it in, is the best thing that’s happened to me lately. He is so ready for potty training! That’s exciting, right?
And suddenly I longed for my Mom friends. I had joined a Mom’s group when I moved. I had no friends and I found a group of women who had babies born the same year my son was. Mom friends sympathize with every detail of your labor and the c-section you didn’t really want. They get how tired you are. They don’t judge your unwashed, frizzy hair. Mom friends can talk at length about leaky boobs and sleep regression.
I opted to drive home instead of moving on to the next bar and I thought about how much I had changed since the last time I was here. I had essentially traded in my cocktails for coffee and my designer jeans for sweatpants. I was the same person but so much more blessed than I ever was before.
I was thankful for the child-free friends who still make an effort to keep in touch with me. And now, I was thankful for the awesome women who also have no clue what they’re doing, as they go through this motherhood journey with me. It’s difficult not to compare myself to my old friends, though. I’ve traded in promotions for potty training and put my career on pause. It was the career pause that I had the most difficulty with. So much of our self-identity is measured by job titles, promotions, and raises. There was a tangible result of all the hard work you put in.
I get home past the kid’s bedtime and look at them snuggled in bed. I was so thankful for the two babies that changed me more than I could have ever imagined. And without any hesitation I realized.
Some pauses are not awkward at all.