March. Even typing that out almost makes me cringe. Before last year, March used to represent hope, spring, new life. However, now I am not sure that I will ever forget the dark days of that dreary month that kick started it all in 2020. Nor can I believe that we have been dealing with this pandemic for almost a year now.
But, here we are strolling up on the month that changed it all, and it started to make me think about all the things that really have changed. And, while there are the obvious ones — social distancing, masks, no large gatherings — I couldn’t help but notice who I was walking into March with this year that I wasn’t with last year.
You see, as our world closed in around us last March, our only outlet became getting outside more in our neighborhood. While we have always been friendly with our neighbors — a wave or quick chat to check in — we always had somewhere to be or some place to go. But, since COVID-19 had locked everything down, we had a lot more time for the people around us.
It started slow, letting our kids ride a few laps around the block while us Mamas walked socially distanced behind. I still joke with one of the Moms about how frightened I was when she asked me to hold her dog’s leash because of the unknown of everything.
But as the time moved on and the world stayed closed, we started opening up a little bit more in our close group. Our kids had always played together. It wasn’t unusual for four or five of them to end up at one house playing for hours (and clearing a pantry), then moving on to the next house. But we as Moms were more caregivers for each others kids and didn’t really hang out together as friends. Again, it wasn’t by design.
Slowly, that dynamic began to change. When our kids wanted to get together, we needed the getaway just as bad as the kids. Driveway drinks became our “night out” and we mastered the birthday parades throughout the year. Planning not only kid adventures but also including mommies became a common thing. And while I cannot pinpoint the exact time, all of a sudden, these ladies that I knew as acquaintances became much more to me than that.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would be working out three days a week with one friend for the last eight months, I would have never believed you. Especially the fact that we have maintained that workout schedule for so long. It’s like a record for me. Or that I would go from friendly waves and “hi, how are you?” to lengthy weekend chats until the morning hours.
With these women, I have laughed hysterically, danced carefree with our daughters in their Friday evening talent show, poured out my heart, listened to their past stories and experiences, prayed for upcoming events or just everyday worries, soared through giant blow-up yard waterslides, discussed the latest nutrition plans, wiped away tears of all the year had to offer and cried to them so many of my own.
No, this isn’t a “borrow a cup of sugar” neighborhood bunch anymore. It’s will you come cut my whole family’s hair, no need to knock — walk on in, organize Tupperware drawers on Friday nights, Bible study and vent sessions and let me help you uncork that screw off bottle of wine. Ha.
Not only do I get these amazing women to share uplifting texts and songs with, but we have also watched our children’s relationships blossom and got to know their individual personalities even more. We all root them all on — they’re all our kids. Heck, half of the time we have to group text to find out which gloves or pajamas or shoes belong to which kids. Everyone has something at someone else’s house.
But, that’s the thing, all of our houses are no longer unknown territories of acquaintances but rather have become memory painted homes to not only our kids but also to all of us Moms. And even as the year has gone by and things have slowly opened back up, these relationships we built during one of the hardest years that I have been through have not closed down. In fact, they are stronger than ever.
So, as March comes creeping in, I can’t help but return to the hope that it brings. Because, this year I am walking in with a whole new and lasting support system — my neighborhood family of friends. And that is one change from last March that I am so very thankful for.
Love you all, RCC Mamas.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.