One of my oldest friends just invited me and my husband out for dinner on Saturday night with her friends. I didn’t know if I could get a sitter on such short notice, so I told her it wasn’t likely we could make it. “A sitter?!” she exclaimed, “Our reservations are before 11 pm — you don’t need a babysitter!”
Sigh. For what seemed like the umpteenth time, I explained to her that my 18-month-old and my 6-year-old had a strict bedtime at 7 pm. It’s a schedule they’ve been on forever, and keeping them up later doesn’t move up their wake up time any later. They’re up at butt crack of dawn no matter what time they go to bed.
Besides, what over-tired toddler and first-grader is going to sit quietly through a long, boring grownups dinner anyhow? I’d be spending my entire evening walking them around outside. It would be pointless.
She gave me a passive-aggressive guilt trip about how her friends with kids stay up to all hours and how unusual she thinks my bedtime policy and then whines about how she never seems me anymore.
And it’s true. I never see my friends anymore. I also never go to the bathroom alone anymore, either, so free time is at a premium around here. By the time I hung up, I felt annoyed and resentful at being made to feel guilty about being totally overwhelmed.
Kids: the ultimate time suck
My husband and I are busy. Everybody’s busy, but we are really really busy. In addition to owning a business, he works long, crazy hours as a writer on a television show. I feel like a single parent many weeks, and I also juggle my own freelance writing when the kids are asleep.
Like most modern moms, I’m juggling lots of plates, and the ones that are irreplaceable have to stay in play, and the others — like friendships, laundry, exercise and sleep — often get dropped and shattered to the ground.
But I’ve just come to accept that my friends who are DINKS (Double-income couples, no kids) or SINKS (single income, no kids) simply cannot grasp that kids really are the ultimate time-suck. I know I’m still surprised at how little else I accomplish besides keeping my kids alive. Keeping two active boys out of harm’s way is ridiculously time-consuming.
When “girls-only” time is gone
Parenthood throws a Playskool sized monkey wrench into friendships. Especially old friendships that go way back to childhood.
Out of my tight-knit group of girlfriends I’ve known since my school days, I was the one who declared she’d never get married or have kids. Apparently, Fate had other plans for me.
Immediately upon graduating from Cal Berkeley, I met my husband-to-be in Los Angeles. I was only 22, and for the first time in my life, I was absolutely certain about what I wanted to do with my life: marry him and have his children. Fast forward 15 years, and my husband and I now have two sons — an 18-month-old and 6-year-old. Yet, I’m one of the only ones out of my ambitious, brilliant childhood friends to have children.
I’ve gravitated towards other mom friends through the years, but scheduling girl time with them is exponentially harder when you throw their families into the mix.
And the rare time I do get away from the boys, I want to spend alone, decompressing. I never realized how much alone time I needed until I was totally deprived of it. I often retreat to a quiet place to read, shop or surf online. I don’t want to talk, answer questions, chit chat. I go into Greta Garbo mode and “vant to be alone.”
How do you do it?
If anybody out there has a solution for juggling friendships or grown up time without kids, I’d love to hear it. It’s enough of a struggle to schedule alone time or date nights with my husband — and we live together… let alone fit in friends with equally busy schedules. How do you guys manage?
More good stuff
- Changing friendships after becoming parents
- Stay connected with childless friends
- “I think my name has changed from Tina to Rachel’s Mom”