Forks. It’s not just the home of a dreamy vampire or tools used to wind spaghetti. They’re moments of division along life’s path. I have a feeling we encounter forks in the road more often than we realize—subtle points of decision, where one choice will take us one way and the other another. Once in a while, these splits feel more monumental. Especially, it seems, when an opportunity is missed. We’re left on the other route, wondering what would have been, had we chosen differently. I almost found myself in such a painful place not so long ago…
DATE: December, 2016
PLACE: Trolly Square—a mall we visit 2-3 times a year, as it’s pretty far from our home
SCENE 1: A busy toy store
Standing in line at a toy store during the holidays means a wait. Good thing the store had a play area set up where Mags could keep herself busy. The situation got even better when a cute young girl approached and accepted Maggie’s invitation to “pway wif me.” When the time came for the girl to go, the sweetest words rang out: “Tell her thanks for playing with you.” They came from the little girl’s mom. And they were music to my ears.
I know this will sound… weird? Maybe that’s not the word, but I know my appreciation of manners is a little inflated here. It was just SO refreshing to encounter such a polite mother/daughter duo amidst the holiday chaos. I flashed an appreciative smile in the mannerly mom’s direction just as they went on their way.
SCENE 2: The Trolly Square parking garage
As we walked to our car, Mags asked if we could go in the attached grocery store. Being so far from home, this didn’t make the most sense, but I did need a few things, so the idea of not having to make a second stop was all the persuasion I needed. As we waited for the elevator to take us to the store, I saw my new mom crush again. She and her children appeared to have just gotten off the elevator we were waiting to get on. Through the crowd of people also waiting for their lift, I found myself shouting at the woman. It happened before I had much time to think about what I was doing…
“Hey! It’s you!” I hollered, almost too excitedly.
“Hi, again,” the kind stranger said. “It looks like our girls are all about the same ages. That’s fun! Do you live around here?”
“No. We actually live about 30 min. south of here,” I replied.
“Oh… Do you come here often?”
Never has this cliche pickup line sounded so sweet. Though, you wouldn’t know it by my reply. I scoffed a “No!” just as our elevator door opened. Why I suddenly turned into a smartass, I’ll never know. I sure didn’t mean for my reply to come out in that way with that tone, but before I could correct the situation, it was time to go. The open doors forced us into rushed farewells, and we went our separate ways. Again.
As the elevator door closed, the split in my life path became painfully clear. I was presented with a fork in my road… and I made the wrong choice. Ouch! I’m often saying I want more friends for my little girls. And for myself, frankly. Here was the perfect opportunity to make such friends and I let them slip through my fingers. :(
As the elevator opened again, I couldn’t bring myself to get off. As Maggie began to exit, I pulled her back and told her we needed to go back. We had some new friends to find!
I know. This probably sounds kind of nuts, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted a FORKS do-over. Sadly, we walked and walked through that cold parking garage, and they were nowhere to be found. Opportunity: missed!
SCENE 3: The grocery store
As we were wandering the aisles, dinnertime crept upon us and my girls were hungry, so we made our way to the store’s deli. That’s when Maggie pointed and squealed with delight, “Look, Mom! My friend!” Sure enough, there was my mom crush and her two sweet girls. Only this time they were joined by a dude. Papa Bear, I assumed. Again, we exchanged hellos. I then went on to confess my failed attempt to find them in the parking garage. Turns out they weren’t leaving the store at all, only going to put a few bags in their car before grocery shopping. They too were sitting down for a deli dinner and asked if we wanted to sit with them. Yes! Yes we did!
It took three times to happen, but we finally touched down. I feel like the universe continued to throw these delightful people in my path for a reason. The first time around, I was smitten but not in the best place to act. The second time was blown by an unintentionally smarty reply and an open elevator. “Okay, fine,” the universe said. “Let’s give this a third go!” Good thing the third time was our charm. We had a great meal and made plans to get together after the holidays.
Since then, we’ve had two play dates. Our first was at our messy, crowded home. Here are a couple of shots from that visit.
The next was in their clean and open home.
Judging by our homes alone, Mom Crush seems the yin to my yang. She wants to decorate her home with more wall art and personal touches but isn’t sure where to begin, so her walls remain bare. I, on the other hand, am on a serious Quest for Less and need help minimizing my life. She’s all about the minimalism and happens to be a clean freak. Looks like we balance each other well.
Actually, it’s becoming more and more clear we need each other for reasons far bigger than home design. We need each other because being a mom is H-A-R-D. Having others who get that and can make it a bit easier is everything. As my new friend so aptly put it, parenting takes a village.
As we discussed this, she touched on how it used to be easier when we could just send our kids outside to play the days away, but we no longer have that option, at least not in the heart of the city. I love what she said next: “Chasing the ‘American Dream,’ we’ve dreamed ourselves right into lonely boxes!”
It’s true. Home can be quite lonely for a stay-at-home parent. Sure, you’re surrounded by your children all the time, but that’s the great irony of it all—you’re NEVER alone but can feel SO lonely. It’s why having friends with children the same age(s) as yours can be a life saver. I’m SO thankful we happened upon these delightful souls, even if it did take a few tries to get us there.
As an interesting coincidence, we also have a crazy amount in common. We’re the same age. Our husbands are the same age. Our daughters are the same ages. Finding older parents with younger kids in Utah isn’t always easy. Not that you have to be the same ages to align, but it was an odd thing to have in common—especially since Cory and I are six years apart. Also, Cory and their Papa Bear are both musicians. How ‘bout that?
Today brought another opportunity to see our new friends. My mom crush and I made this wall hanging. This was her first time making a craft at home. Can you believe it? I love that I got to be the one to experience it with her. She was a fast learner with awesome ideas and plenty of creative vision. The project turned out far cuter than it would have had I made it on my own. And it already hangs proudly on her wall—bringing her one step closer to her decorating goals.
You simply never know when you’ll happen upon such life divides. Because of this, I’m going to do all I can to be more mindful of my surroundings and experiences. Sometimes the briefest encounters can have the most lasting, loving impacts!