Even when I’m a “Definitely going,” consider it a “Maybe.”
I realized this upon receiving a recent invitation to a friend’s kill-two-birds housewarming/husband’s birthday party, and after a lot of brain ping pong, I responded “maybe.” I resisted the urge to explain why I wasn’t a solid, “yes,” so I’ll just do that here. Maybe she’ll read it.
With each invitation, I’m torn between being so grateful that someone still wants to spend time with me despite my years of last minute, “I can’t make it,” texts, and anxiety about accepting the invitation. Often I’m a straight up “No,” because, no one to watch the kids/husband is hunting/I’ve got a Babyquip delivery that day/I had a kid free day 3 weeks ago/etc. I disclaim my “Can’t make it this time,” with a “Please please PLEASE! invite me to something again.”
I have five children. Many of them are fairly self sufficient. My soft-hearted twelve-year-old can stay home alone if I have a quick, local crib delivery to make. The helpful eight-year-old is a patient mother hen to the younger kids. My loveable six-year-old still acts as though I’m going on an extended vacation every time I step out the door for work. My rambunctious three-year-old pleads “hold me” throughout the day. And then there’s my one-year-old.
She is the sweetest little needy peanut I’ve ever come across. My husband claims that our three-year-old was the same way at her age, but the sleep deprivation, and too many episodes of “The Real Housewives” has erased that from my memory. Our one-year-old not only co-sleeps with me, she has to sleep directly ON me. She wakes several times a night to nurse, more if she’s teething or has a cold. As I write, she is on my lap trying to help me tell our story ccccghAAAAAAAAAAAN …See!
I have tried to leave her with Grandma, twice I think. Both times, she was inconsolable around bed time. The first time, we were in a limo coming home from a concert. Guess who got her first limo ride home. So, overnight stays are out for the girl, for now, which makes my night life limited to Netflix, and watching my husband snore in the recliner.
So there’s that little adorable obstacle keeping me from committing to much of anything in the evening hours. While considering the housewarming/birthday party invite, a daytime event, scenarios began running through my head. I could commit with a “Going,” but what if one (or more) of the kids is sick? What if they’ve misbehaved and I’ve banned them from all contact with the outside world? What if something more kid friendly comes up? I’m a “if I say it, I’ll do it,” kind of gal, so committing to “Going” to something might as well be written on a stone tablet, not a pixelated screen. I will move mountains…but not nap-times to keep my promise to attend.
At this point in parenthood, I’m working around twonappers, and I am, what I believe is known as the “Nap Police Naps are non negotiable because according to (my) research, kids need sleep or they are quite unreasonable, and I need that little bit of free time to…pick up Legos mostly. The three-year-old is a fantastic napper. He lays down each day around 12:30, and sleeps until roughly 3 o’clock. The one-year-old, as I said, she’s a bit of a clinger. She’ll nap…as long as I’m holding her. I can count on one hand, even if that hand has been mangled and is missing digits as a result of improper fireworks usage, the number of times I’ve successfully laid her down for a nap. I swear I’ve never seen a baby fight sleep so much! Just this past weekend at a football party, for which I was a solid “maybe” until the day of, she screamed for eight minutes, fell asleep (in my arms), slept for five minutes, nursed for ten and decided she was good to go for the remainder of the party. Yet I remain hopeful each time I engage in her nap-time routine that rarely ends in a few moments of freedom for me.
One, two, or all of my children are with me 99 percent of the time. I homeschool, I work at home, when I embark on a Babyquip delivery, I take one or more of them with me. That doesn’t leave much time for socializing. More than half of full time working moms say they don’t spend enough time away from their kids to nurture friendships, which makes having it all seem unreachable. Our close friends are well aware that an invite to Angie and Scott should include place settings for seven. Bless their hearts, they’ve always been inclusive. (except for that one bunko party when I was told not to come if I was bringing my newborn because it was a “kid- free,” night for everyone else. Well then it’s an Angie-free night too). In the past year I can count on that same hand that is missing fingers how many times I’ve been anywhere without at least one child. My friend, Courtney told me, “You look weird without a kid.”
I usually try to present my “maybe” response in different ways. Friend: “Let’s have a Halloween party and make some fun treats,” Me: “I’m in, let’s plan it.” or , “That sounds fun, let’s try to make it work.” I also remind myself that my friends will give me grace, and won’t take it personally when I stand them up. Let me tell you, I’ve picked some good ones. I love hanging out with my friends, and even getting to know new people.
As an adult, everyone seems to have friendships that have been established for years. I once watched my daughter at a birthday party walk up to another child she’d never met. My daughter opened the conversation with “Want to see what’s in my purse?” The two were inseparable for the remainder of the party. If only it were that easy, I thought, for grown ups to make friends. Maybe “Want to see what’s in my purse?” is a good ice breaker. I’ll have to try that at the next get together that I “might” make it to. Unfortunately, a basket of mismatched socks is calling my name and keeping me from your Monday night dinner. Please invite me to the next thing though.
Angela Schuler is a BabyQuip Quality Provider. When she isn’t busy telling her friends “maybe,” Angela rents, delivers and sets up quality baby gear for families traveling to Salem, OR and the surrounding area. If you’re heading to the Salem area with your family, check out all the baby gear Angela has to offer https://www.babyquip.com/angela355.