- I’m a mom of a 6 year old and a baby, and at 46, I don’t like working out.
- Recently I became friends with a semi-professional soccer player at a playground.
- Our lives are totally different, but we enjoy each other’s company while our children play.
The playground was almost empty the afternoon we decided to go carousel with my son. I was holding my newborn in both arms, but I had a revelation: I could use my foot.
Just as the metal contraption that my son was excitedly clinging to was gaining momentum, a handsome and energetic 3 year old came running in, eager to get on it. Her caregiver was a few steps behind her, calling her name.
“Let me push,” he said, watching me balance on one foot in a “Karate Kid” pose to move the playpen toy while holding a baby.
We started talking and I learned that he was a stay-at-home dad whose partner worked in the administration of a private school. We talked about this and that, as parents often do in the playground while their children are playing.
We found out they were opposite poles
In these scenarios, the parents feel verbally – it’s almost like a soft interview to see if we could become friends. Sometimes I don’t feel like making friends, but most of the time the Gemini dragon in me can’t help it; I just want to be loved.
It’s not unlike dating, except that while you’re weighing the pros and cons of a friendship with your child’s perhaps longer-term playmate, you’re also considering them for your partner.
As we were chatting, the topic of health came up. We talked about fitness and nutrition – which is odd because he was slim and fit and I was three months postpartum with diastasis recti, a condition where the stomach muscles separate after the birth, resulting in stubborn belly fat and a “doggie” that can be hard to get rid of.
Between telling our kids to “put down that old candy wrapper” and “use only nice hands, please”, we managed to cook up a conversation and I learned that he was a semi-professional soccer player.
It was fascinating to me – I love hearing people’s stories, but also, when can an ordinary 46-year-old playground mum get to rub shoulders with a 24-year-old soccer player?
He told me his story: he didn’t take football as seriously as he would have liked when he was in high school, even though he was good at it and it might have brought somewhere, and now he was trying to reconnect with his dream.
We became friends
We talked about the benefits of beets and other health tips, and we bonded. We made plans for play dates and talked to each other about where we lived and about our partners, if they would ever meet.
Meanwhile, her 3 year old son and my 6 year old son had become best friends the moment they saw each other. They were drawn to each other’s high energy and the desire to chase each other everywhere. They laughed and shouted with joy for every little thing. Without almost a word, they had become as close as possible.
While I prefer to sit at my backyard patio table and write, my friend prefers to punch other grown men and catch and pass a soccer ball. He told me that he trains every day and works on bulking up, while I try to train as little as possible but dream of bulking up. My favorite exercise is walking, while his is running. In a way, it works.
If you find yourself looking for a friend, I suggest you look where you least expect to find him – that’s where he always is.
Jessica Delfino is a designer with several hyphens. She is a showrunner, creative lead, social media content creator, mom, and host of “The Mom Report” on Pocono 96.7 FM.
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