I occasionally wonder, where did my social life go, when did I decide I prefer to be home and in bed at a reasonable hour, and why do I feel guilty about it?
For the first year or so of Harry’s life I watched as my friends went out together – without me. Facebook updates and photos that were never of me, rubbed it in all the more. Often I was invited, but was too tired, or it was not convenient due to a number of child-related reasons. Many of my friends seemed to only have free time to spend with me at midnight on Saturday night, which didn’t really fit in with late night feeds and early morning crying. Somehow the rest of their weekends were always full with other things. Please note, that is not a dig or implied negatively (even though it may read that way) – all I am saying is my friends have their own lives to try and get on with. I missed the freedom of being able to have a glass of wine (while breast feeding) or to do really anything without having to plan in advance. I missed my friends. And, when I did catch up with a friend, God bless their poor souls, I would talk 90 miles an hour like a crazed woman, even though I really had nothing to talk about.
When Harry was about 1 ½ I realised that the problem wasn’t that I couldn’t have a social life – the only person restricting me was myself. I could see my friends – the problem was I would feel guilty if I was away from Harry. My job as his mother is to be there for him, not to leave him with his dad so I can run off and party with my friends. I went for over a year without spending more than an hour or two away from Harry.
I did eventually start accepting invitations to nights out with the girls. However, this sparked a new (fear-based) problem. If I agree to go out with my friends, I have no idea what to wear. Now this will sound silly – very silly – to many of you. But it is not as simple as looking through my wardrobe and having trouble deciding what to wear – if you haven’t been out much socially in 6-12 months, you literally don’t know what people wear to certain events. I would dress up for dinner, and then all my friends (who usually are very dressed up) would be dressed casually. If we go out for drinks, I literally don’t own anything that is considered current “pub fashion”. The thought of a night out having a few drinks with my friends starts off (in my head) as a great idea – a night away from a grumpy toddler, time to be myself, etc. However it soon turns into stress about having nothing to wear, looking in the mirror and seeing titanic thighs and a double chin staring back at me, and no idea what to wear to be able to blend in with all the “cool kids” who do this every week. My well intentioned night out with the girls morphs into a nightmare of stress and anxiety before I’ve even left the house – and I desperately want to cancel the whole thing.
Things haven’t changed a lot, I still have battles with myself about whether to go out and socialise or stay at home with my family. This post is not about how I miraculously found the answers – I still don’t really know how to make it all work. I feel that I have more balance in my life now, although maybe in reality I have just learned to not be so upset hearing about all the things my friends do without me – because I now understand that it is my choice, and not their intention.
Having said that, I have to say, I do have very good friends – real friends. These people have been there for me whenever I needed them (and I am there for them whenever they need me too), and even though my life has changed and I don’t manage to attend social gatherings very often, every now and then they do their utmost to remind me that they will always be there for me – and that is why I love them.