There’s a freedom that comes along with being around people who *like* me more than they *need* me.
I need to continually remind myself how good I have it because lately I’ve been exhausted. Maybe it’s this killer flu that I can’t seem to shake, or maybe it’s just that my kids are of the age that every single second I’m in my house, they require my attention.
I love them with every last fiber of my being, but that doesn’t mean I love the fact that I haven’t gone to the bathroom in over five years without interruption.
Lately, it seems like when I get home from work I’m in a perpetual battle against time. It takes forever to get dinner cooked, cut, and doled out to my kids, to clean up the inevitable emergency spills, and to get my own food ready and on the table before the rest of my family is done eating. Sometimes I’m up and down so much that it doesn’t seem worth it to sit down.
Sometimes it seems that if I’m not at work, doing things I need to do for my colleagues and students, then I’m at home doing things I need to do for my children and husband. When I get to feeling like this, I realize I miss my friends. A lot.
I miss making plans with them on a whim.
I miss being able to have uninterrupted conversations with them without having to answer questions like, “Where does the moon hide during the day?” or “Why do bunnies have floppy ears? Why don’t I have floppy ears?”
I miss how being with friends—away from my house or from work where I am very much needed—makes me feel.
There’s a freedom that comes with spending time with friends who know “pre-mom” me. It makes me feel like an adult who can talk about art and books and what’s happening in the news without the worrying about soccer practice, swim class or house cleanup that my other “adult self” needs to think about.
There’s a freedom that comes along with being around people who like me more than they need me.
I knew that motherhood would have its challenges finding a balance between being a mother and being who I used to be, but in my head, I thought I’d be managing that equilibrium a little better than I’m doing now. I knew I’d see my friends less, but still enough, and I thought that if I weren’t able to see them, it would be because I was spending a lot of amazing quality time with my children.
In reality, 90% of my life as a mom right now is dishes and laundry and wiping up wetness. The individual tasks are far from difficult on their own, but a day full of them—one after another—is far from easy.
These types of days simultaneously slowly and quickly come and go and come and go and come and go until one day I realize that I can’t remember when it was I last talked to my closest friends. My people. The ones who really get me. Was it weeks ago? Months?
I miss them. And I’ve missed them for so long. I’ve just been too overloaded to do anything about it.
Most of who I see these days are family, people I work with, and those rare individuals who can pull double duty with me—like the friend I can talk to while we meet to workout, or the pal I can chat with on the sidelines because her kid plays soccer with mine. They’re fantastic humans. They really are. But they’re my 2-for-1 friends, which means we might not pick each other so often if it weren’t for the other extra thing that binds us together.
I do make attempts to see my friends. I’m not wholly living in self-friend-isolation. I send a text or make a call in an attempt to reconnect when I can, but the odds are not high that the exact moment I can come up for air and reach out to them will correspond with when they can respond back and reach out to me in return. So the cycle often continues.
I miss our weekly meetups—our collaboration during DJ trivia and our friendly competition at bingo.
I miss sharing and rehashing every tiny aspect of our lives over a bottle of red wine.
I miss sharing our worries and frustrations with one another and having those conversations where we might be crying at the beginning, but we’re always laughing by the end.
I miss being able to see my friends when I really need to see them, not only when it fits into a slot in both of our tightly packed calendars.
I try not to get too down about it because I know I’m doing what is best my family and myself, and I know it won’t always be this hard to find time connect.
I take solace in our text messages, emails and snapchats—the lifeblood of our long-distance communication. I am comforted by the fact that my friend group recognizes that we will always be here for one another when needed, but we don’t demand each other’s undivided attention to prove it. Honestly, those are the kinds of friends I need most right at this stage of my life.