Yesterday, FD, SD, and I went over to the elementary school to pick up SD’s class assignment for first grade. They asked me, as they do annually, to check out contact card and make sure all the info is up-to-date. It was. As I handed back the green index card to a staffer she asked, “Still no additional emergency contact?” “Nope,” I said, “still no.” The only emergency contact on the card is our pediatrician. Kinda sad. Adoptive parents tend to be older, so I suspect we’re not the only ones who know this special kind of isolation.
I was already thinking about this last week. Cleaning my office — as I do every half-decade or so — I came across a thank-you card from the mom of a little boy who attended SD’s birthday party last summer. A phrase caught my eye: “Thank you for being a friend to [child’s name].” This stuck me as heartbreaking: A mom in her late 30s desperate for her little boy to have friends, and grateful for having found one. It’s that special isolation again.
The problem for families like ours is that the people with kids are typically too young to want to socialize with geezers like us. And our contemporaries have moved on from parenting.
We’re not invited to the social events in which young families so naturally find their communities and children find their friends. And since we’re not interested in religion, we’re not affiliated with a church-based community.
People our own age have already moved on from Parent Mind. The presents we lavished upon their children when they were young and the attention we paid their kids go largely unreciprocated. None of my daughters’ grown-up cousins, or my sister and brother, have ever even met FD and SD. My girls don’t know what they’ve missed out on, but we do.
And being older, our parents are gone, too, so our daughters, for example, have just one grandmother, who they both adore.
We want our amazing girls to be surrounded by warm community and friends, not living in us-induced isolation. But it’s been a struggle. We’ve tried to insert ourselves into younger families’ social situations. It’s just not a natural fit. We’re as old as some of their parents (I’m older). We try to support FD’s friendships, though that’s tricky at her age. Playdates for SD? Yes, please.
I don’t fault the young families nearby for not thinking of us. I know they’re as wrapped up in their own needs as we are. This isolation is just one of the weirdnesses that comes with the otherwise fantastic experience of parenting later in life.
If you’d like to share your own story — and any solutions you’ve found, please, yes — I’d love to hear about it.