The social life of parentis homoerectus
Now that I’m finally a mom, I begin to understand to what extent I was isolated socially as a 35+ married woman with no children. Now that I have not one, but two mewling brats, it seems I can’t go more than a few steps in any direction in our elite little neighborhood without running into parents I know from the kids’ activities, neighbors who ask about the kids and children who yell from across the street, “Matani, come here”, or “Karen, wanna go to the pool?”.
Before we adopted, I barely knew any of our neighbors enough to say more than a brief “hello”, or “thank you”, if they held the elevator door for me. No sooner did we bring Karen home, than formerly aloof residents began talking to us and making kissy faces at Karen. I’ll admit that it was mostly our fault. Neither DH nor I ever went out of our way to be anything more than polite to anyone in our building. I just never felt the necessity. Also, during the years of TTC, I just wasn’t in a very friendly mood much of the time. I became very antisocial a few years into the process.
The change is even more dramatic in our relations with other parents in the area – those who don’t live in our building. First, our neighborhood, like many in Israel, is full of young families and lots and lots of children. Before we adopted, I never had anything to say to young mothers. They were always full of parenting talk, and I had negative interest level in anything they might have had to say. Mostly, they just annoyed me. Yeah, I know, it was me, not them.
Now that we have Karen and Matan, both of whom enjoy playing in the many parks within walking distance and both of whom tend to befriend new people very quickly, I find myself talking to everybody. These days a quick trip to the swings across the street brings parenting advice, a new friend for Matan, and an interesting woman who had some career tips too. And this is repeated in parks across the ~2 km radius around our home. When we think about how our lives will change when we become parents, we often focus on the sleepless nights or cuddly afternoons. I never considered all the interesting people I have met as a result of the adoption, and becoming parents.
I’ve especially enjoyed participating in several parenting groups, seminars and workshops. I’ve met many adoptive parents, made new friends and learned a lot about how to parent my children more effectively.