This weekend seemed to have just the right balance of relaxing and getting out and doing things. Friday night we stayed in and watched a movie, but Saturday and Sunday we had lots of outings and great fun was had by all. We actually toured a few townhouses, despite the fact that we're not planning on buying any time soon (unless drastic changes happen with Michael's work - because in case you forgot: consulting tends to have us ready to go go go at the drop of a hat). Overall it was so much fun to see what kinds of things are out there - and was only minimally heart-wrenching falling in love with various home features or locations knowing that it probably isn't in the cards for awhile.
In addition to all of the ridiculous fun we had on our random real estate adventures, we had the loveliest Saturday evening getting to know some married friends (and their babies!) better. Our friends invited us over for dinner and we enjoyed a quiet evening as our sons played together and us parents were blessed with some engaging conversation.
I think one of the biggest blessings from Saturday night was not only how much fun Michael and I had, but seeing how much fun our sons had together.
Ever since we moved to Pennsylvania we've been beyond blessed to encounter so many welcoming people that we truly consider our friends. Because we met several of them through the local group for Catholic young adults, many of them are single. All of them are fantastic people and I'm incredibly grateful to have them in our lives, but over the course of the past few months I've constantly been mulling over thought after thought about how, as Gabriel grows, it's only going to become more important for Gabriel to have friends his own age - which means it's important that we have friends in the same stage of life as us as well.
You may remember that I began a Catholic moms' group awhile back, and I'm happy to say that it has been a fruitful experience for me (and hopefully for the other moms!). It's such a blessing to have friends in a similar stage of life - not because I think I can and should only be friends with people doing all the same things I do every day (how boring), but because those friends just...get it.
In a funny way, it took seeing Gabriel with his little playmate on Saturday night to help me begin to better understand why it's so good to have those kinds of friends that are where you are (in life, not geographically - though a nearby location is really great, too). I have already known that such a thing is a huge blessing, but I think witnessing Gabriel's fun the other night allowed me to see all of this in a new kind of light.
You see, Saturday night I witnessed something new that I haven't seen during all our time spent with other moms and little ones. While I've made some excellent mom friends here, their children aren't always that close to Gabriel's age. I don't think that's the most important thing by any stretch of the imagination (especially when a major goal of the moms' group is to find friends for myself that are moms), but it's undeniable that 3 months here or 7 months there makes a big difference in the life of a baby or toddler. On Saturday, Gabriel was able to play with a boy who is less than 2 months older than him, which at his current age translates to mean that developmentally they tend to execute and enjoy all the same kinds of activities. Supposedly children this age only begin to play "side by side" (with little to no interaction), but these boys were having a ball playing alongside one another and together. In fact, we barely had to watch them most of the evening because they were happy just to toddle around together, stopping to explore various items of furniture or take a break to swap toys, giggle, or shriek with glee. They spoke no words (other than regular baby chatter), but they stood before one another gesturing, waving, leaning, and rocking as if they were carrying on the most fascinating non-verbal conversation known to man.
It was beautiful. And neither my mom friend nor I had ever seen our sons interact with another child in a manner such as this. Sure, Gabriel frequently interacts with other little playmates via the moms' group, but because of their age differences it is just that: different. Quite adorable, but different than what I saw on Saturday.
After watching Gabriel have one of the best times of his young life, it suddenly dawned on me: the main reason it's so good to have friends in similar life stages isn't out of convenience, shared activities, or because it's helpful to be able to pick their brains about how they plan to do x, y, or z with their kids. Those things are great, but the main reason these friendships are so good for the soul is because - just like Gabriel and his little buddy - there are so many times you don't even have to use words to understand each other.
With our single (non-parent, obviously) friends we are constantly answering questions about dating, discernment, engagement, marriage preparation, married life, family life, pregnancy, babies, etc...which I tend to do most happily. But when we're with other married couples that are parents to little ones (especially those that are Catholic and already share our values and worldview) we are able to dive into other topics headfirst and get beyond certain topics without having to give hours of background info or multiple disclaimers. There is a reason that moms tend to share an unspoken sense of camaraderie with other moms the instant they discover their shared role as "mother" - because you've all been there, experienced it, and have known firsthand many of the blessings and beautiful burdens that came with the package.
On Saturday night, Michael and I both felt so comfortable and as if we had known our married friends for much longer than we actually have. I firmly believe that God brings certain people into our lives for various reasons and I thank Him often for all the people we have come to know here. I'm truly grateful for all of our friends - whether they are single, engaged, married, younger, the same age, older, etc. We have many friends that aren't exactly in the same stage of life as us and it's worked out perfectly fine for us thus far, but watching Gabriel light up in ways I haven't quite seen with other children who are a bit older or younger really made an impression on me. Even though we don't only hang out with other married couples, I totally understand why that's often the case for others. And, over the course of the past several months (and then highlighted right before my eyes on Saturday night), I have come to understand more and more about why so many parents only hang out with other parents.
After all, our family's social time is no longer only about Michael and me. It's also about Gabriel and what's going to be good for all of us. I know most of this is common sense, but seeing Gabriel light up Saturday night made me so grateful that in addition to all our fabulous single friends that have enriched our lives here, we have been blessed with married friends that have so many big, important things (which often is found in the tiniest details of everyday family life) in common with our family. The kind of friends that don't bat an eye when you head home at 8pm...because they're also about to put their son to bed as soon as you leave.
Seriously. We have some great friends here that we can do all sorts of fun things with - and I'm so very happy that Gabriel also has good friends here, too. God has been so good to us here and I can only hope that He continues to bless us all with friendships that are just as natural as the one our baby boy has with his little playmate.
By the way - do you know my sister, Christina, at Summa Momma (that's "soo-ma" as in the Summa by St. Thomas Aquinas...because she is a Lay Dominican and theology scholar...get it)? She just created a fun link-up entitled "Kid Lessons," in which bloggers can share brief anecdotes about valuable lessons they've learned from their children. I completely failed at being brief, but I'm counting this as a Kid Lesson all the same (forgive me, sis). Head on over to Summa Momma for more Kid Lessons! :)