- I’m a mom to a 6 year old and a baby, and at age 46 I don’t enjoy working out.
- Recently, I became friends with a semipro football player at a playground.
- Our lives are completely different, but we enjoy each other’s company while our children play.
The playground was almost empty in the afternoon when we decided to drop in to ride the merry-go-round with my son. I was holding my newborn baby in both arms, but I had an epiphany: I could use my foot.
Just as the metal contraption my son excitedly clings to momentum, a beautiful, energetic 3-year-old comes running up, eager to jump up. Her caregiver was just a few steps behind her, calling her name.
“Let me push,” he said, observing me on one foot in a “Karate Kid”-like stance to move the park toy while holding a baby.
We started talking, and I found out that 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 out are polar opposites
In these scenarios, parents feel each other out verbally – it’s almost like a gentle 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 no different than dating, except that while you’re weighing the pros and cons of being friends with your child’s potentially longer playmate, you’re also considering it for your partner.
As we talked, the topic of health came up. We talked about getting in shape and nutrition – which is weird because he was slim and fit and I was three months postpartum with diastasis recti, a condition where your stomach muscles separate after birth, leading to stubborn belly fat and a “pooch” that can be hard to get rid of.
Between telling our kids to “put that old candy wrapper down” and “just use nice hands, please,” we somehow managed to strike up a conversation, and I learned that he was a was semipro football player.
It was fascinating to me – I like to know people’s stories, but also, when can a regular 46-year-old playground mom rub shoulders with a 24-year-old soccer player?
He told me his story: He didn’t take football as seriously as he wanted to when he was in high school, even though he was good at it and it might have taken him somewhere, and now he’s trying again 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 friends, would they meet one day.
Meanwhile, her 3-year-old and my 6-year-old became best friends the moment they laid eyes on each other. They were attracted to each other’s high energy and desire to chase the other everywhere. They laughed and screamed with delight at every little thing. With almost no words, they became as close as possible.
While I’d rather sit at my breezy patio table in the backyard and write, my friend would prefer to bump into other grown men and catch and pass a football. He told me he works out every day and works to build up, while I try to work out as little as possible but have big dreams to build up. My favorite exercise is walking, while his is running. Somehow it works.
If you find yourself looking for a friend, I suggest you look where you least expect to find them – that’s where they always are.
Jessica Delfino is a multi-hyphenate creative. She is a showrunner, a creative lead, a social media content creator, a mother and the host of “The Mom Report” on Pocono 96.7 FM.