All the years I was growing up, my mother was active in the Parents Auxiliary of the school I attended with my three siblings. When she finally had to give up the house where we grew up, she moved into a nearby development. No less than three of my classmates’ parents live in the same place, and the number of people who had children in my school is much higher. Yesterday, I attended a memorial service for one of my mother’s friends. A classmate was there comforting her own mother. A former teacher from the school is also there; he gives classes that my mother attends. Suddenly the Parents Auxiliary has become the Daughters’ Auxiliary.
I wish I thought that the time I have invested both in my childrens’ institutional life and in my own will provide similar sources of connection when I am older, but I can’t see it. Being a doctor is isolating—many of my most longstanding and intimate connections are with patients. My colleagues and I work quite independently. I hardly know my colleagues’ families or the parents of my children’s friends—certainly not the way my mother did. My husband is also a busy professional—he is a little more connected, having coached my children on various teams—but at this point in our lives, we rarely see the other parents whose children shared activities with ours.
Maybe it will be different when I am much older, or maybe I will find in myself a gift for making friends outside of work, once I am no longer working. I suppose I should stop worrying. If I live long enough that I need to find new ways to connect to people, outside of doctoring and mothering, that will be a blessing in itself.