During a party recently, my husband and I were talking to some family friends whose children are grown, graduated, out of the house and on their own.
They asked how things were going for us, with two teenagers at home.
Busy, I said.
Then I thought (but didnt say out loud): Duh! Suzanne?! Could you possibly, just once, think of something, anything, better to say about this season of your life than busy? I mean, please. Busy? Everybodys busy. Have an original thought.
Its May, I said, out loud again, shrugging. May is nuts. Its just so, you know, busy.
Stephanie smiled and nodded, while I, in my mind again, slapped my forehead, Chris Farley-style, and shouted, Gah, idiot! Youre so stupid, stupid, stupid!!
But thats what May is, when you have school-age children. Thats what we are. Busy.
Theres no other word for this homestretch of the school year, when calendars fill with concerts, plays, ball games, field trips, graduations, class parties, award ceremonies and the 786 rehearsals required to get ready for those other things. In between, you have to make summer plans sign permission forms, schedule physicals, enroll and pay for summer camps, reserve a spot at driving school.
If there is another word for May, Im too busy to think about what it might be.
But there stood Stephanie, smiling and rested, sipping a glass of Chardonnay and likely thinking about her next round of golf. Her husband, who is retired, joked that he doesnt have to remember anything anymore more curse than blessing, he tried to explain.
Youre in the thick of it right now, he said. But thats good. Its a good thing.
Its great to have friends with children a little older than yours. Theyre reference points on the confusing road map of parenthood, guiding and assuring you its all going to be OK. Or even if it isnt, youll work through it somehow.
Talking to these mentors and Ive had several over the years I gain valuable advice but also perspective, which is crucial because its impossible to see the forest when youre walking amid 30-foot-tall trees. Friends have guided me through breastfeeding, potty training and kindergarten enrollment. More recently we have shared stories about driving, dating and shopping for colleges.
At the recent party, my husband and I marveled at what lovely adults our friends daughters had become. More than that, the young women actually credit their parents with setting high expectations and raising them in a climate of honesty, kindness and mutual respect.
This mom and dad have even achieved the Holy Grail of parenting: the you guys werent so bad after all thank you from their children. Unofficial but worthy of a final note in the baby book.
My husband, Randy, flanked by Hannah and Jack, smiled at Stephanie and said, Yeah, I hope these guys turn out all right.
Hannah, 16, stared blankly at Stephanie and back at her father.
Im mostly turned out, she said. I dont know what you think youre going to change in the next couple years.
Dry sense of humor? Check.
Well keep working on the driving.