Today, before picking up the Schmoopette from an after-school art class, I stopped at a tiny strip mall where I deposited a few checks and then visited the local consignment shop to find out my balance. It had been a day of errands and phone calls, and it was sweet to see the manager, Tina, who's always quick with a smile, a kind word, and a funny anecdote about her tween-aged kids. We were chatting, and she said she needed new jeans. I suggested a particular brand, and she responded: "Hurry up and have the baby, so we can go shopping together." I laughed, smiled, and now that I think about it, the comment made me realize that she is indeed a friend here. One of very few I've managed to make since we moved down in April.
And it's not for lack of trying. I joined the PTA, including an event's sub-committee, at the Schmoop's school. I enrolled the Schmoopette in a cooperative preschool, where I volunteer in-class with another parent twice a month. I joined the area's listserv of moms. The Schmoop is in the biggest soccer club in town -- the one that's not for the aggressive players, anyway. I'm open, friendly and easy to talk to, and yet my only friends here are my housekeeper, two neighbors, the wife of my husband's friend, an online friend who lives too far to see on a regular basis and a good friend who lives nearby but whom I rarely see -- and, apparently Tina at the consignment shop.
Now that the birth of the baby is only a couple months away, I feel this real void. I'm panicked that there will be no one I can all to come over and calm me down if/when the Schmoopadoo turns my life around. I'm feeling so needy that I even became desperate to join a church on the sole basis of whether it had a meals ministry, because for the first time in my three pregnancies, I don't know who in my zip code will give a damn about my baby's birth or whether we've got a stocked kitchen. And no, overly-eager mothers in law don't count.
It's not that I'm depressed, because I love my house, and I love having the opportunity to work from home. I love my kids' schools and our new neighborhood. I love the fact that, God willing, I will have this baby in our home. I'm happy with the blessings we've been bestowed. But I miss walking (walking -- what's that?) outside and seeing at least three people I care about and who care about me. I miss having a close friend's family live in the same building. I miss my brother living 30 minutes away, even if we only saw each other once a month or so. I miss my Brooklyn neighborhood, my coffee shop, which is the only place I've EVER felt like Norm from "Cheers." I'm still not sure who this Urban Mama is in the Suburbs.
I know it's not becoming for privileged women (and I consider most married women who can stay at home or work part-time to be at least somewhat privileged) to whine, but I'm not complaining about what I don't "have"; I'm just sad that I don't have a tribe down here. That there is no formula for creating or belonging to a close-knit group of women who love you, support you, pray with you and have fun with you. For that I have to turn to the Web, but my online friends, as precious as they are, can't stop over for tea or accompany me to a movie screening, or meet me for a day of mundane errands.
So, I pray, and send out to the universe with a full and heavy heart, that this baby will be loved by more than just the four of us in this house. That I can find my tribe of friends soon, because at 31, it isn't such an easy endeavor anymore.