When my husband and I first moved into our neighborhood, we were the youngest couple on the block… by 2 or 3 decades. There weren’t many younger kids; a few older ones, but they were down the street a ways. We also didn’t have any kids of our own yet either. We were newly-ish married and buying our first home.
Since that time, our neighborhood has blossomed. In addition to our three boys, we have also added 8 homes with growing families. And it seems like all the families have younger kids too. It is super nice to finally feel like we have a community that understands being in the thick of parenting littles, and our boys have friends close by to play with.
In the past, there have been a couple families we play with more than others. But my oldest son (Everett) recently made some friends from down the block while riding the bus. It has been so fun to see him spread his wings and gain new social skills. With these new social skills, we have also needed to learn a new system for going to play at friend’s houses. “Mom, can I go over to Derek’s house?” “When will you come back? Who else will be there?” We had some initial skirmishes about how this would work but are slowly figuring it out.
One thing I have liked is when the kids come to play at our house. This way, I can still give Everett his space while keeping an eye/ear out for things we may need to talk about later. But in having friends over, I have discovered a new role: ‘Everett’s Mom’. As in, “Hi, my name is Heather. I am Everett’s Mom.”
Truth be told, I am still only ankle deep into learning how to be ‘Everett’s Mom’. Obviously, my son’s first grade friends aren’t coming here to have enthralling conversations with me. But there are a few things I have started to think about when it comes to Everett’s friends: 1) I am not THEIR mom, 2) This is still my house and our house rules, 3) I cannot control all of the things my kids will do/talk about/play with, 4) It is their relationship, not mine. 5) I can still be a mom without being Everett’s friend’s mom.
For example, this afternoon a couple of friends came over. It was a rainy day outside so they were inside finding something to do. One of them grabbed my son’s Nerf gun and started shooting another friend with it. I made a polite comment that we wear safety glasses while shooting Nerf guns in our house. I am not sure if he didn’t hear me or thought he didn’t need to comply but he ignored my comment and kept shooting it without stopping to find safety glasses. I got down on his level and told him that without safety glasses he could not shoot the Nerf gun. I said it gently but firmly. His eyes got a bit bigger but he nonchalantly said, “Ok.” We had a moment. Later I offered them cookies and he was the first to smile and come grab one from the tray.
I feel like this is a perfect example of what I need to think about/work on as I learn to be ‘Everett’s Mom’. I am sure over the next ten years my role will grow and shift. I imagine it will always be a tug of war; a balance between being a mom in the larger sense to the kids who visit my home, and being Everett’s Mom. This was an unexpected change in dynamics for us, but I am excited to learn more.