When Did My Kids Take Control Of My Social Circle?

Early on, I had full control over all social happenings in my kids’ lives but now I am being thrown into situations I didn’t choose.

Originally Published: 
Elementary age kids and the new friends they make will expand your social circle.
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I remember being a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding when my oldest son was six months old. His routine dictated my entire event schedule. I snuck out before my hair was done, took a feeding break between the ceremony and cocktail hour, and called it a night far earlier than I otherwise would have. It wasn’t the first time my child’s schedule and preferences ruled my choices, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. But I was prepared for this, prepared to totally melt into motherhood and let it take over me. What I wasn’t ready for was the degree to which my kids’ choices would impact my entire adult social circle.

Early on, as many parents do, I had full control over all social happenings in my kids’ lives. I orchestrated playdates with my own friends and hashtagged things like “besties” under photos of our kids. Basically, I took the liberty of curating friendships and guest lists for my kids. We did what I wanted to do. But as they have grown, things have obviously changed. Now that they’re older, ranging from 2 to 9, they dictate many of the family social plans. The results are mostly good, but man, I hope it stays that way.

It started in elementary school. My oldest son started spending his days with a classroom full of strangers and making friends with kids whose parents I didn’t know. These friendships led to birthday party invites, playdates, and meetups, many of which I was also asked to attend. The calendar filled up.

I have sat at kitchen tables, stood around at birthday parties, and moseyed around parks with these other parents and caregivers — chatting about various happenings in our worlds. All of a sudden I was being thrown into a multitude of social situations with adults that had been picked for me by my kids. Some interactions were pleasant, some a little awkward, and some great. And over the years, this happened more and more often.

Like so many other parents, my weekends are now spent sitting in the bleachers, socializing with a group of people determined by my kids’ decisions. Sometimes it’s a little strained, with clashing personalities and differing values. Other times real, natural friendships develop. Ones that lead to post-game pizzas, nights by the fire, and afternoon pool parties. And just like that I now have an additional social network that I never expected.

But I’m not sure why I am surprised, looking back on my own childhood. I remember my parents' social circle expanding exponentially as I got older and my activities became more time consuming and friendships naturally grew out spending time together.

My teammates’ parents ended up at our Christmas parties and my brother’s friends' families tagged along on our summer vacations. There were weekend-long tournaments and drama festivals that led to meals, activities, and hang-outs with parents much different from my own. It really widened our family circle, in the same way it is widening mine.

And thankfully, so far we are good with most of the additions that my kids have provided to my social network. I assume at some point, as they grow and change, we may end up in a circle a little less compatible than the one we are in now. But at least I will be prepared, now knowing just how much of an impact my little ones can have on my personal social life.

Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.

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