Friday, February 26, 2010

The Fullness of Parenting with Friends and Coworkers

I'm a lingerer at daycare, partly because I often breastfeed in the room right before I leave Q and right when I pick him up. This gives me the chance to see other parents drop off and pick up their kids. It's so adorable to watch people effusively love up their kids as they say goodbye.

My coworker’s baby shares a room with mine. She or her husband do dropoff around 7 like I do. Last week I watched her hug her baby tight and say just like I do, "I love you so, so much," when she said goodbye. Then at work we were too busy to even talk. This week, I saw her husband drop off the baby. He picked up the baby, hugged him, kissed him, and told him he loved him, then said a regular friendly "Bye Kristine," to me.

This was actually the first time I’ve watched other parents say goodbye to their kids at daycare and I was really struck by it. It’s the type of affection that we that don't always see other parents giving babies because we don't often witness their partings and reunions. I think it was even more striking to see it in my coworker and her husband, who I've known for 8-9 years, and who I consider good friends.

Our babies together six months ago at a backyard BBQ:

My coworker and her husband are hard-working, relatively serious people. I mean, they are fun, and funny, but they’re not silly, goofy people who run around kissing and hugging people at work or at parties.
It’s not that they aren’t affectionate people. I hug them hello and goodbye at social gatherings. When we gather socially with our kids, of course we all hold our kids, and maybe even hug and kiss them, but at parties, we’re all talking to each other while keeping an eye on our kids- we’re not lavishing attention on our babies because it’s one of our few times to socialize with adults.

That’s why the overt affection from my coworker and husband was so striking- although I have known them for years, I’ve never seen it. Such gentle and loving behavior is reserved by most people for private moments. But daycare breaks that boundary because you have to say hello and goodbye to your most precious thing in front of other people.

Now I can’t help but see my coworker and husband a little more completely. I know them now not just as friends and coworkers, but as loving parents. Even if you know someone IS a parent, it’s different when you see them interact with their child, and it’s even more informative to see them show their most sincere affection. We often don’t get this full view of people because we don’t often work, socialize AND parent around the same people.

I am lucky to work with amazing people, many of whom are parents, many of whom have awesome partners that I count among my friends. It teaches me a lot about how to parent, and how to be a working parent.
Working and parenting and having a marriage and friendships- it’s a lot. It’s a lot to handle. It’s pretty much impossible to find the time to do it all well.
I had no idea that being a working parent was so… busy. And full. And exhausting. And draining. But in many ways, great. I had no idea it would be manageable, but it is.

I like that I have company in this challenging time. I like knowing that other people whom I respect are trying to work the same balancing act. You can’t try to parent alone… it’s just so much easier to do it with your friends! You can learn so much from others.
Even if you’re not a working parent, you need company. Several good friends are staying home with their kids, and they struggle with parenting and balancing too.

I really love this time in life. I’m learning a lot about myself, and about others, and about life in general. My life is so rich and wonderful and rewarding right now. I just wish I had more time to blog about it!


Dionna @Code Name: Mama said...

That picture is SO sweet!!

KOR said...

Thank you Dionna- they are even cuter now- I should see if I can find another decent shot of the two together!