Sunday, June 23, 2013

Conversation, Nudity, and a Mini-Tyrant: The Relative Social Life of the Working Mother

One evening, my children and I visited an orchid specialist, which is really a blog post in itself, but anyway, the conversation between the shopkeeper and me went the way it often does when I make a new acquaintance: food and family.

"Where's your favorite restaurant?" he asked.
"Depends on what I like to order," I said, and then elaborated.
"So what restaurant do you go to... to be social?"
"Social? I don't have a social life."
"You don't have a social life?"
I pointed to my children who were sucking on mints, swinging their legs on a settee in the shop, and toying with orchid blossoms they had been given. "That's my social life."

I think it was Barbara Walters who once said that there exists family, career, and a social life, but you cannot have all three; you must choose two. I once resented the truth of this and wondered what I was missing socially, but as my children have grown older, I have become better at embracing time with them for the gift it really is. Time is fleeting. We are creating memories. We still have our frustrations though.

Last week, after comical drills about the tennis court, we admired the lightening bugs flitting about, and then dawdled home hand-in-hand. Houses slipped into silhouettes against a dimming sky and the air held the magic of almost-summer... but then the kids' joking and chatter morphed into crabbing and arguing, an obvious signal for bedtime. I sent them in to start baths, planning to take a few minutes of solace before the usual routine of monitoring and tucking in. The youngest suddenly appeared naked on the front porch to hotly voice a bitter complaint about his sister. He made no sense whatsoever. I scratched my head a minute and thought how nice it would be to have a glass of wine at the restaurant around the corner... with someone who wasn't six years old, irrational, naked, and non-compliant.

I often say that my social life is at the office, and I think for many of us, that's true. I have a group of good women friends there-- mostly mothers like myself, some of whom have raised children under extraordinary circumstances and pressures. The peace and wisdom they give me is priceless, and I find that work provides a sense of relief rather than duress because of that. It's been a wonderful cure for the isolation I felt in a new state four years ago, and besides-- no one has ever shown up at my cube naked and irrational. :)


  1. Glad to have you back. Cary

  2. Houses slipped into silhouettes against a dimming sky ...

    I love the lyrical rhythm of this line...I'm so glad you're blogging again!



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