When we lived in L.A., I would stalk anyone with a baby. No, really. It was actually even creepier than it sounds. For instance, every time I’d go to Trader Joes, instead of looking for fresh produce, I’d trawl for mamas ripe for the picking. Once I spotted one, I’d follow her around the aisles keeping a safe distance until I “accidentally” bumped into her with my cart. After a fluster of apologies, I’d start chatting her up, desperate for a little adult interaction. Yeah, I came on strong like cheap perfume, or that guy at the club who you know is packing a roofie. But I was lonely.
I even used my children as bait. “Oh, Little Homie is flirting with your baby girl,” I’d say even though Little Homie was only smiling because he just took a major dump and warm poo feels so nice.
Sometimes, when I would be lucky enough to get an actual name I’d race home and click over to facebook. With a spring in my fingers and hope in my heart I’d key the letters as if they were a magic code to unlock a portal out of my loneliness. But, inevitably, my ‘friend request’ and the “spontaneous” message I’d spend an hour and a half composing would get ignored. And while I may be desperate, I’m not stupid.
Shortly before we moved to Israel, when the census guy came over to take down our information, I was so excited to have some adult interaction that I held the door wide open, and invited him in.
“Won’t you please stay for dinner! We’re having lentils and cheerios!” He didn’t.
But now, on the other side of the world, I am surrounded by other mamas. Literally on all sides. My neighbor to the right has a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. My neighbor to the left has a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old. Every afternoon, our neighborhood is exploding with the sounds of running feet, laughter, and the occasional “Ayaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” (The Israeli equivalent of “Owie” when someone inevitably slips and falls on their tuchus.)
A kibbutz is like a small town on steroids. A seamless blend between Club Med and a mental institution: There are mini parks everywhere where imas (moms) and abbas (dads) sit together and gossip while occasionally keeping an eye on their kids. Those of us who stay home with our kids pass each other while we push our strollers to the Kibbutz convenient store or the cafeteria. And since this is a kibbutz steeped in the history of collective child rearing, everyone is up in everyone’s business. But in a good way.
We share clothes. And car seats. We share horror stories about the pediatric emergency room. We share sympathy.
All for one, one for all. That’s a kibbutz.
Sure, there’s an issue of chemistry. Not everyone will like everyone, and believe you me not everyone does. But with such a variety, I’ve found my tribe: Other mamas just like me who want to shoot caffeine into their veins like smack, who try in vain to cover the deep circles under their eyes. Who love their children fiercely but don’t take parenting too seriously. Mamas like me who are dying to talk about something other than their kids.