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We were invited to our very first non-family children’s birthday party over the weekend. Our son has a best friend in his daycare class and although his parents are perfectly nice people, it is evident that our interest in them (and vice versa) would simply not exist without our children factoring into our interactions. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be friends with these folks under normal circumstances, but our paths would never have crossed if our children weren’t part of the equation.

I feel inferior to them whenever we hang out. The mother is vegetarian, a discipline I could never have enough self-restraint to truly maintain for any length of time. They talk about feeding their child food that even I would never touch, kale, tofu, quinoa, while I’m struggling to break my child from his daily persistence to overcome his fruit snack addiction. (It’s not that bad, he can quit anytime he wants, so he says…)

So, we took a deep breath and embraced the adulting and showed up at the birthday party, hoping there would be alcohol and vaccinating parents among us. Fortunately, their friends were absolutely lovely people. The mother of two of the older children straight-up fan-girled with me over Neil Degrasse Tyson and we bonded instantly. The husband, as it turns out, is another homebrewer, and a very like-minded privacy fanatic. We had some mutual acquaintances, which living in such a small state is not such a shock. We had a great time, and the next day, we had a text from the bestie’s mother asking for another get together (for adults and kids) since their friends seemed to like us as much as we liked them. My heart soared as she asked my advice on a melatonin cough syrup that was helping our son get through some rough, separation anxiety ridden nights. I felt like an honest-to-goodness grown up! Yay me!!

A word of advice to new parents or people considering having children. Learn to love your children’s friends, and particularly their parents. You’re past the part of your life where you can pick and choose your company. Your kid will befriend some weirdos, for sure, but as long as they are safe and trustworthy, try your best to embrace them and their kooky parents. It lets your child become their own judge of character and gets you out of your head. We all celebrate our children differently and I always enjoy finding ways of opening up my heart. I’m so glad to get the somewhat uncomfortable invitation because I’ve got 18 more years of this experience ahead of me. The more practice we get the better.