By: Barbara Matousek

Artist Jennifer Moffett

I do not generally agonize over decisions. I decided to move to Minnesota five minutes after receiving my first job offer. In the 20 years since then I have owned five homes, writing offers on all of them the day I toured them. When I was trying to get pregnant and the donor I had picked out was suddenly unavailable, I went to the cryobank website and picked out a new donor (based mostly on his baby picture) in about 20 minutes. So the fact that I’m waffling over a decision about pre-school is a new feeling to me.

Yesterday I had some actual alone time with a mommy friend of mine, a friend who I am getting to know slowly as our four children keep us from having deep, meaningful conversations on any sort of regular basis. She and I were invited to a mother blessing of a mutual friend, and while Kate and I rode in the car together, we both prattled on at rapid speed, as if everything we’ve wanted to say to each other had been building pressure.

Foremost in both our minds seemed to be the upcoming registration for pre-school. 3-day or 5-day? What are you going to do with YOUR son? Kate said that she had registered her son for 5-day, but I have not made my decision yet. The 3-day makes the most sense for my family.

In my life before children I once noticed a car in the grocery store parking lot with the door wide open, nobody inside. I saw an elderly man wandering the parking lot looking lost, and I asked him if he needed help. He told me he was trying to find Arlis and I led him back to the car and helped him sit. He was confused enough that he couldn’t figure out he had to pull his feet in before we could shut the door. I told him she would be back soon and there was no need to worry. It would be okay. I left him and sat in my own car and watched through the pouring rain on my windshield until Arlis came out and crawled in the driver’s side, and then I drove away with tears in my eyes. When I turned the experience in to a short story, my writing teacher asked why this narrator was longing for deep connections, what about her life was so isolating that she reached out to this lost, old man, why this connection made her cry.

Parked in Kate’s driveway after the mother blessing yesterday, she told me that even if our children are not in the same class next year we will still be friends, that she values the connection we’ve made. It was as if she had read my mind. We hugged and she got out of the car, and as I drove away I felt tears in my eyes. Perhaps my indecisiveness about pre-school was fear that if our boys were not in the same class, Kate and I would no longer be friends, that I would lose this connection that feels important to me. But thanks to Kate’s kind words from the passenger seat of my car, I can stop worrying and know that everything will be okay.


  1. says

    This brings me back to the pre school days, Barbara. Lots of decisions being made and you will find as I did that some of the Moms will be your friends and the kids will love each other and others, the mom will love you and the kids will not like each other and sometimes the kids will love each other and the Moms are not your type. Goes with the territory. Always changing and growing. I am sure you will do fine. Now pick three days or five before you have no choices. Here in Los Angeles those lists are made when the kids are born. I am not kidding.

  2. says

    Oh, beautiful. I loved that moment with the old man. Makes me want to cry too. I’m glad you found this woman. She sounds like a real star. xoxo

  3. says

    Powerful stuff, Barb. Thank you for writing and sharing. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to make decisions for someone else’s life. And it’s wonderful re: the connection you made with Kate. I’m so glad you have her in your life! xo

  4. Stephanie says

    I completely get the need to connect to other parents with children the same age. Unfortunately the only ones I have made so far are in online groups. I am sure I will shed a tear of joy when the connection happens for me. You are absolutely right that being a single mom of young kids can be isolating!

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