Friday, September 20, 2013

School reunion

I headed to Sydney over the weekend to attend my 20 year school reunion. It was fantastic.  One Facebook comment summarised it this way (very accurately!)
“Great reunion. Old girls at their best and looking amazing. No shortage of glamour & style. Expecting mothers, personal trainers, artists, vets, horticultural designers, Anglican church leaders, hospitality, creative design, lawyers & accountants drinking it up at The Lord Nelson.”
I greatly enjoyed the night. I came away with some personal reflections and some social commentary reflections:

Personal reflections:
  • It was a delight to see old friends again. Even with my closest school friends, I had not seen most for well over 10 years. It was a joy to see how they are going, what they are doing and to hear about their families.
  • It was an extra special delight to see those who are still continuing on in the faith. In our year we have a minister’s wife, a college lecturer’s wife, a rector’s wife and a trainer of children’s ministry workers. And that’s only the ‘paid workers’, there are also a number of committed Christians still serving as faithful laypeople.
  • I wonder whether my brain space for aligning names and faces is completely full? I was embarrassed how few people’s names I could remember. I knew their faces, yet the names were elusive. Once someone quietly reminded me I was fine, but I was rather humbled by the experience. Admittedly, they were all the people I had not seen for 20 years.
  • It was interesting to see how easy it is to revert to old groups and friendships. The girls that were cool at school still look cool. I still feel shy and intimidated by some (of course, that’s my issue and nothing to do with them!)
  • It is embarrassing to admit how much I thought about what I should wear. (especially in light of my reflections last year in response to a weight loss ad targeting our reunion). Once there I hardly noticed what anyone was wearing or how they looked, I just wanted to talk to them. But quite a few of us did quietly admit that we spend a while considering what to wear and that we had worn heels, which we never normally do. Ah, the pride we all try to pretend we don’t have!

As for the social commentary:
  • To put it in perspective, it was a reunion for a private girls school in an affluent part of Sydney.
  • There were almost no ‘full-time’ mums like me. Almost everyone I spoke to was juggling work and motherhood. I wonder if there are two reasons for this:
    • Everyone is paying Sydney-size mortgages. It takes two incomes to pay mortgages in Sydney (at least in areas where many of these women were living). As far as I could tell, the stay-at-home mums were not living in Sydney or had been out of Sydney for some time.
    • Many of these women are highly qualified professionals who have spent years on their careers. That is hard to give up when kids come along.
    • Please hear me correctly here – I am not judging anyone for their decisions. Many women work with kids. Many women have great jobs they love. I just found it interesting. When we were at school very few of their mothers worked, so it really has changed.
    • Also, let’s be serious: I work too. I do many things that are not included in ‘household duties’, I just don’t get paid for it!
  • I was one of the oldest mothers. That is, my kids were older than most. A school reunion is one of the few places where everyone is exactly the same age, so in a room full of 37/38 year old women, the vast majority with children had pre-schoolers and babies. My 10 year old seemed quite old! Which means by the time the next reunion rolls around, I will have 2 adult children and they will still have pre-teens! In the Christian circles in which we generally move and also in our socio-economic setting at school, I am not a particularly young mum. However, in comparison with this group, I was a young first time mum.

All in all, it was a great night. I did not get home till midnight and we talked non-stop for 6 hours. Thanks be to God for old friends.

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