New Jersey being our union’s densest state, we have many, many moms. I’ve met dozens of them and they’re fascinating and complex people. Every one has her own story…a childhood; a school career; time in the workforce; dating fiascos; a marriage, perhaps. Whatever our paths, we’re all doing our best to gently (or forcibly) mold our kids into good people. My path has led me somewhere unexpected and wonderful and it presents my kids with a very particular set of opportunities and challenges in addition to the regular ones we all deal with.
I started out a pretty run-of-the-mill Jersey girl…grew up in Fanwood and Piscataway, spent summer days in Beach Haven and went to Rutgers Prep. Then I drove a few hours north to Mount Holyoke, came back to live and work in New York City, got married, moved back to New Jersey (I missed trees and jughandles), and had two boys.
We travelled a familiar real estate journey: Hoboken (to softly wean from Manhattan) to Maplewood (loved the town, but couldn’t justify the taxes) to Westfield (dug ourselves in). Life was humming along. My boys were in second grade and Kindergarten and I had the daily routine down. Drop boys off, work at home, do a little volunteering at school, go to the gym, hit Target, and pick up the kids at 3:05. The last day of that school year changed my life. A friend invited my kids and me to go to the Philadelphia Zoo the following day and on our way home, my friend invited me to kick off the summer at her house with drinks and the “ladies” on her patio. I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t made many close local friends and after a day with the monkeys (both primate and human), I was ready for something chilled in a cocktail glass and some giddy girl time. That was the first time I formally met G, though I’d known of her through her various activities at school and around town. In contrast to my chairing one PTO event over five years, she spent all of her free time in meetings. We clicked – not just in that “our kids have the same annoying habit” way – but in a way that I knew we’d be in each other’s lives for a long time. Little did I know then, however, what form that would take.
We seemingly had nothing in common. For starters, she’s tall and grew up in the south. I’m not what you would call tall and I consider Cherry Hill the south. Three years later, we are living together in a committed relationship with our five children, and our kids share their time equally between us and their Dads, both of whom live seconds away. We have three middle schoolers and two in elementary school…one girl and four boys. They do a lot together: play, sing, eat, do homework and bicker, and they do it all very loudly. They surprise us (and maybe even each other) in some way just about every day. Life is a lot of things in our house, but it is never, ever boring.