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Family, Parenting

Ties that bind — at home, online … even at the service station


Most days, technology is supposed to connect us, but it really keeps us isolated, enjoying a faux sense of camaraderie fueled by too much information.

Today, technology really connected me, though. Here’s how:

Early this morning, my Facebook feed included a status update from Nancy, a neighbor I’ve known for 14 years.

Like me, Nancy is a woman of a certain age caught between duty and dreams. Today, she brought her twin boys to college and was on Facebook talking about having to face the bittersweet milestone.

I offered Nancy a cyber hug, finished checking my email, stripped the bed, jumped in the shower, packed a lunch, and got myself out the door.

On the way to work I stopped at the gas station (because any car Basil drives before me will necessarily need fueling), and there I saw a familiar face. Instead of peering back at me from the screen, however, it was right there, in real life. Nancy was topping off her tank, too, so I sidled up and offered a real hug.

Her brave face earned points for effort, but it didn’t hide her sadness. Indeed, I was seeing my future self in her eyes. We both teared up as she said again and again, “I hate this.”

I offered to send Catherine down the street (Nancy said OK, which she will soon regret!), recommended a bottle of wine for when she got back home and went on my way, first waving at one of the boys who surely is still trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.

Driving to work, I got to thinking: I’ve known the twins since they and Catherine were at Mead School Child Care Center together, and each morning year after year, I’ve watched them make their way to the bus stop in what could pass for something of a time-lapse movie.

When I commuted to New York, Nancy and I often sat together on the train and talked about our kids, and so I got to hear about their many adventures and successes. The boys are all grown now, handsome young men from good stock; they will surely excel in college and beyond.

In my mind’s-eye view, though, they are fresh from a tactile play session at Mead, running around the day care center in diapers, chests liberally dotted with shaving cream. (Apologies to them both.)

I can only imagine what Nancy feels today — in two years I’ll be in her shoes, so I’m taking copious mental notes, as I have been with my nieces.

In the meantime, Nancy, your next real hug is just a block away. We have wine and good food; the company isn’t half-bad, either. And if you really mean it, I can send Catherine down the street to visit. Any time.


About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


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