When will I see my friends again? When will I be able to get out for a cup of coffee?!?
These were my questions after I had my first son. Just weeks earlier I sat with friends and talked about how my little guy would travel with us wherever we went…blah blah. My friends chuckled as we dined and said, “Just wait.” I didn’t get it. Of course this new person would fit easily into my life and would be a pleasant addition to all my adventures.
First I’ll admit, I never expected many of the challenges I faced as a new mom: breastfeeding didn’t come naturally; I didn’t have a community to support me; and having given up my job in Brooklyn, my apt. in Park Slope, my friends in NYC to be home ~in Rhode Island~ with my family, I didn’t realize the shift in identity I’d feel. I was a bit lost. Getting coffee with a friend was absolutely not happening anytime soon. In fact, one time, when a friend did come by, I threw on a shirt (yes, I was topless as I learned how to manage the breast-feeding-pumping-every-two-hours) and ran downstairs…eager to see a familiar face. A few minutes into our chat she said, “Ummm…you’re leaking” to which I replied, “You’re lucky I have a shirt on!” Yeah, I wasn’t going anywhere…
With three kids and almost eight years under my belt, I can say for certain it gets easier. I wear a shirt all of the time now (and bra!); I can travel with my three kids ~ we’ve even taken them to NYC; and social media, classes, playdates, and my work keep me connected to friends regularly. It’s the face-to-face time that seems hardest to secure. But I always remind myself…
We leave our children to work, why shouldn’t we leave them to do something that makes us better for them? A healthy mom is the most important thing for a child. We must take care of ourselves.
One thing I find that really helps me, is to schedule a regular day/time where I can meet people. I have two days during the week where my daughter and I are free (no work for me, no classes for her) so we can meet friends – BOTH OF US. I always invite friends to join us…on hikes, to the park, at the beach, etc…and merge my child’s socializing and my socializing. It was easier in some ways when I only had one child, one set of mom-friends, a mellow schedule to fill with fun activities. As for now, my two open days are there…however I choose to fill them. Secondly, I have Monday nights. I work Monday nights til 8pm or so and I try each week to make plans afterwards. I figure I’m out, the kids are in bed, and that time is mine. Amazingly, or perhaps it’s not so amazing, this one night a week restores me. My friendships are so important to me. And while they can’t be maintained as well as they were before…and I don’t see my friends as much as I’d like to…I try. I prefer to go out one-on-one (symptom of getting old?) and enjoy meaningful conversations with thoughtful people. I love those moments of connection and intimacy and insight. We might be talking of work, or our children, or the recent blizzard…but whatever it is, we’re talking without the disruption of little ones tugging at us.
If you find yourself craving that social time, GO GET IT! Either make some “play-dates” with parent-friends you like…or, better yet, set aside some regular time to meet with friends. I find having the one evening a week as my night really helps. I’m more likely to commit (hey, I’m already out!) and I don’t have to worry about where my husband will be or what the kids have going on. Monday is my night! For you, it might be the book club, volleyball team, or PTO…but regular social outings – GUILT FREE – are important. And, in return, we need to give our partners space to have the same connection with friends. Balance. It’s all about balance. Make space for you because you deserve it! You work hard! You will feel like a new – or your old – self…and it feels amazing! Keep having adventures…your kids want you to! Show them it’s healthy to take care of yourself and your relationships!
Now, who are you going to call and make a date with this week?