between the years 1990 and 1994 I graduated from college (see above), moved to NYC, worked at GQ, got engaged, got married, moved to upstate NY and had my first child. (go ahead, do the math...) it was everything I wanted. I went on to have 2 more kids, move 5 more times and always wondered what I was going to be when I grew up. when I was little, I thought I'd like to be a decorator or a jeweler or a photographer or even a florist. from 1994 to 2008 I was busy with kids and moving. a lot. just as i found a cohort or confidante (or a babysitter) we were scouting out a new address in a new state. looking back, all the energy I spent setting up a new life for everyone made it easy to ignore the fact that I didn't really have one of my own. it felt a little like the witness protection program where I reinvented myself with each move. it takes a fair amount of energy to fill in the gaps and catch people up to speed. sometimes it's easier just to gloss over parts, nod and move on, rather than give the whole back story. I joked once that I should make a video and mail it to new neighbors as a little 'getting to know us' icebreaker. I will say this: we have had the most incredible neighbors-turned-friends with each of our moves. it just makes it that much harder when we leave town.
never, never, EVER move at the beginning of summer vacation. know this: you will be entertaining your 9 month, 3 and 5 year old children all day, every day, all by your lonesome. better to move the week before school starts - the kids spend the summer with their friends and show up for the first day of school with little time to panic. better yet - move in the middle of the school year. your kids will have that 'fresh meat' smell to attract a slew of attention but hope that it's catchy because you just might be screwed.
in 2008 my husband's new job took us back home to boston, near both of our families, and the town where he grew up. in the past when we'd moved, I met people through the kids - playdates, school functions, sports, etc - but this move was different. my son was starting high school, the girls worked hard to find their own niches and Bob quickly fell into the same group of friends he grew up with - even playing hockey with them again. I was the odd-man out. we both agreed that this would be our last address which made things feel that much more empty. to add a degree of difficulty, we rented for almost a year in one neighborhood while we built our house in a completely different neighborhood. needless to say, I spent a lot of time on facebook.
I was done with the 'volunteer at school' routine - I've paid my dues as a preschool registrar, room mom, PTO volunteer and helped to fundraise. (truth: I didn't like those jobs and I wasn't good at them) I spent the first couple years in our new (to me) town floating in limbo. I did find a group to play tennis with but in all honesty, I desperately missed my old teammates and friends so it was just a time filler. nights and weekends were filled with the kids' hockey but the days were long. and empty. I had a clean slate and needed a kick in the craftyass.
I finally had the time to ask myself: what am I good at and what do I like to do? where can I learn to _____ ? and who can help me _____ ? it had been ages since I really learned something new and with pretty self-sufficient kids (even one who can drive the other two around) I realized I had a little freedom to start working on myself. working outside the home (I'll tell you the story of how I found my office manager gig another time) opened my eyes to so many possibilities and I started signing up for everything that sounded interesting. I'm loving it. an added benefit is that I've started to meet people - likeminded, creative and entrepreneurial people. some virtually and some in real life. I find I don't mind filling in the gaps anymore because I have more to say about myself. I like myself and apparently, I'm good at a few things. it turns out that I've been a decorator and a jeweler and a photographer and even sometimes a florist all along and I've added upholsterer, web designer and blogger to my credentials.
I've got a lot going on with my office gig and becoming an ARTrepreneur but I like it. everyone's doing their own laundry now and we've redefined the word 'dinner'. saying 'no mom left behind' out loud validates everything I'd forgotten about myself and gives me permission to do more. I'm not nearly finished growing up and that's perfectly OK with me.
PS - say what you want about facebook but it has been a lifeline and a lifesaver for me. being able to post pictures and embarrass the kids is just icing.
PPS - please don't misunderstand me - I am very fortunate, and thankful, that I've been able to stay at home with my kids