The protagonists are two great friends who have known each other 20 years. They had plans way back when to be pregnancy pals and comrades in motherhood. One friend had four pregnancies and three children, the other had three “alpha” pregnancies but no children. (I’m guessing you know which one was me).
Role tape …
The scene opens with non-mom placing a call from her car after dropping her guy at the airport’s white curb — you know the one for loading and unloading only? It’s been more than six months since non-mom and mom last saw each other (mostly due to non-mom’s “unavailability” — screaming toddlers not being high on a non-mom’s “must-see” list ).
Mom is home and happily invites non-mom over. The rendezvous arranged, non-mom sings along to tunes on the car radio. She’s riding a high from endorphins delivered that morning during a robust workout at the gym. Still humming, she approaches an unusually still house.
Shhh…mom tells her when she opens the door, the kids are just down for a nap. Mom apologizes for not yet making it into the shower and picks up children’s socks, toys and sippy cups as they make their way into a kitchen that looks like it’s been hit by a tornado.
Non-mom catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror. With freshly washed hair and a complexion accented by a dewy coral blush and a complementing crisp, coral colored top, non-mom appears to glow. Mom, meanwhile, brushes some oatmeal off of her top and invites non-mom to sit down on a patio chair after removing kid’s toys from the seat.
What comes next is a delightful uninterrupted visit where the old friends talk about everything and nothing. They laugh and reminisce. They ride the same wavelength seemingly finishing each others’ sentences as they did routinely a few years ago. There are no role barriers separating them, just two pals sharing an afternoon in the sun.
In time a door slides open and a little one happily yells out: “mommy!” A second toddler starts crying because she’s hungry. Mom needs to pack the family gear for a trip and there’s a pile of laundry that needs to be done. A dog starts barking. Amid the confusion and demands for mom’s attention, non-mom sees that it’s time to go.
Back at her tidy home, non-mom settles in for a quiet evening. She fixes a spinach salad topped with salmon, pours a glass of wine and looks forward to the day when the differences marking the lives of moms and non-moms don’t intrude with such force.
While I get just a sliver of attention from my mom friends when their kids are about, I have a lovely assortment of online and real-life non-mom pals who give (and receive) undivided attention, and that’s particularly nice because friendships among women are essential for reducing stress, as I was reminded recently by a non-mom friend who sent me an older article based on a UCLA study.
The piece points out that when a woman encounters stress, a hormone (oxytocin) is released and “buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to gather with other women instead.” When engaging in “tending or befriending behavior, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect.”
I’m curious, my dear Internets, how much time you spend with mom vs. non-mom friends. Do you see a marked difference in the visits? Let’s discuss (and reduce some stress as a bonus!)