- I am a mother of a 6 year old and a baby, and at 46 years old I don’t like sports.
- Recently I befriended a semi-pro soccer player at a playground.
- Our lives are completely different, but we enjoy each other’s company while our children play.
Just as the metal device my son excitedly clung to the accumulated momentum, a beautiful, energetic 3-year-old came running up, eager to pounce on it. Her caretaker was only a few steps behind her and called her name.
“Let me push,” he said, observing me balancing on one foot in a “Karate Kid”-like stance moving the park toy while holding a baby.
We started chatting and I learned he was a stay at home dad whose partner worked in administration at a Private school. We talked about this and that, as parents often do on the playground while their children play.
We found they were polar opposites
In these scenarios, parents verbally probe each other – it’s almost a soft interview to see if we can 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 like dating, except that as you weigh the pros and cons of friendship with your child’s potentially long-term playmate, you’re also considering them for your partner.
As we chatted, the topic of health came up. We talked about getting in shape and nutrition — which is strange because he was slim and fit and I was three months postpartum with diastasis recti, a condition where your abs separate after birth, leading to stubborn belly fat and a ” dog” that can be hard to get rid of.
Between our kids saying “put down that old candy wrapper” and “only use nice hands, please”, we were somehow able to cobble together a conversation, and I learned that he was a semi-pro football player used to be.
This was fascinating to me – I like to know people’s stories, but also, when does an ordinary 46-year-old playmother come into contact with a 24-year-old football player?
He told me his story: He didn’t take football as seriously as he would have liked when he was in high school, although he was good at it and it might have taken him 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 told each other where we lived and about our partners, should they ever meet.
Meanwhile his 3 year old and my 6 year old had become best friends the moment they saw each other. They were attracted to each other’s high energy and desire to chase each other everywhere. They laughed and shouted with delight over every little thing. With almost no words they had come as close as possible.
While I’d rather sit at my breezy backyard patio table and write, my boyfriend prefers to bump into other grown men and catch and pass a soccer ball. He told me he works out every day and works on bulking while I try to train as little as possible but have big dreams about bulking down. My favorite exercise is walking while he runs. Somehow it works.
If you find yourself looking for a friend, I suggest you look where you would least expect them – there they are always.
Jessica Delfino is a multi-hyphen ad. She is a showrunner, creative leader, social media content creator, mother, and the host of “The Mom Report” on Pocono 96.7 FM.