It was subtle, but yet obvious at the same time. The milestone I mean.
I hadn't really thought about it beforehand, but during the dinner I suddenly realized that "hey, the four of us couples are hanging out again!"
That's when I realized that we had moved on to another phase of our lives, and more specifically - our social lives.
Just a few weeks ago it was 20 years since the day I met my wife. And now that I look back over this time it seems I am able to loosely categorize the phases we've stepped through as parents and as friends of other parents.
They kind of look like this...
Pre kids - This is the time when you first meet and get married. You're still hanging out with your other child-free friends, going out to nightclubs and generally living for yourselves. It's a great feeling of independence and growth as you set up "house" together for the first time.
Babies and Toddlers - Here is where you'll meet people that until now, you've previously had absolutely nothing in common with whatsoever. Through places like Lamaze classes, ECFE, MOPS and preschools - you'll begin to bond with people in ways you never could have imagined. "Going out" takes on a whole new meaning as you arrange to meet with your new friends at the nearest playground or fast food play-place.
Kids in school - Enter the era of "events!" Time to tune up that minivan because you're going to be busy now. Get ready to roll as you head for sporting events, music lessons, school meetings/programs/conferences, scouts, birthday parties, etc etc etc. This list goes on and as the demand on your time increases, the frequency of meaningful socialization decreases proportionately. In other words, tell your friends you'll see them later.
Teens - This is the phase we're in now. And I as mentioned at the top, it kind of snuck up on us. You see, when you're deep in the "kids in school" phase, you kind of get used to not going out anymore and the idea that your kids (and your friends' kids) don't need you at home at night anymore doesn't necessarily occur to you right away. For me, the light bulb went off when just last week we were invited to join 3 other couples for a night out at a nice restaurant. The same couples we've known since the "babies and toddlers" phase. When Charli told me about it I thought, "Well whatta-ya-know, we all can do that now!"
Empty nest - This is the next stop on our Tour de Life, and one we're actually planning for - somewhat. In only 6.75 years (but who's counting really) Roseanna will turn 18 and Charli and I would like to lift anchor and do something different. This could mean moving to a new location, buying a small ice cream shop and living like hippies in the loft above. At least that's the kind of thing we're aiming for. Most likely, this will cause some sort of exchange of friends, since it's not likely these plans will involve any of our current circle of friends.
Retirement - Even though I don't plan on living in a patio home in Florida and playing shuffleboard in the evenings, one never does know for sure. I've seen so many versions of retirement I don't even know what it means anymore. However, one thing though I would like to be able to do is travel. And now that I have new blog friends all over the United States and other cool countries like Australia and France, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to stop in and
stay with them for free say hi. Then, we can take them out to dinner at a nice restaurant.
I guess that depends upon what phase they're in now doesn't it.