When you make the choice to become a parent, you know that decision will completely change every aspect of your day to day life. You know that just getting out the door in the mornings will suddenly be more complicated, that your schedule will suddenly be limited by nap and feeding schedules, and that for everything you want to do, there is always one, very important obstacle you have to take into consideration.
But knowing it and experiencing it are two different things. After the zillionth time of running late to something, you’ll decide it’s time to accept you will probably be perpetually running late for the rest of your life. When something is scheduled right in the middle of nap time, you realize you’ll have to face an afternoon of fussiness. When social gatherings and all of the fun things that use to require no second thought arise, you realize that your priorities have changed, and you can’t always RSVP “yes” without a second thought.
When L was first born, she was easily transportable. When cozily wrapped in her carrier, she could sleep just about anywhere, making it relatively easy for our social lives to continue somewhat normally. As she started getting into a more active stage, the weather cooled and winter set in. There was work travel, visits to family, and several rounds of nasty germs that made it easy to be content in hibernation mode when we were at home. But now that spring is coming, I’m starting to get restless. I feel the need to be out and about, enjoying life. While taking L to the park and seeing the pure joy on her face as she gleefully rides down the slide is so much fun, I’m also craving some adult interaction. I want tasty drinks on a sunny patio or lively conversation filled with laughter (I would also prefer that conversation to not revolve around teething, poop, or diaper rash).
It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities, it’s that I’ve been faced with those “Mom Life” type obstacles- either she was sick or I was sick or I couldn’t find a sitter. Then, this past weekend, JD and I were invited to a game night with his friend and several of the new police recruits. This was our chance. We would have adult drinks and adult conversations and L would happily sleep upstairs in the pack n play. We didn’t even bother to try to find a sitter because we didn’t think we needed one.
We forgot that L is no longer that easily transportable baby. She doesn’t want to go to sleep in strange places, especially when she can hear people downstairs having fun. When we tried to put her to sleep, she screamed until we brought her down with us. To her credit, she was well-behaved when she was downstairs, but it made it hard to have adult conversations and adult drinks when I was still in mom mode. To make matters worse, it felt really conspicuous to be in a room full of single, childless 20-somethings, when you feel like the 30-something mom trying to hang out with the cool kids.
I ended up taking L home around 11 because she was exhausted, but clearly wasn’t going to sleep with so many other things going on. JD stayed for a while longer and got a ride home with someone else.
As I drove home, I reflected a lot on how much things have changed. 11pm used to mark the start of a fun evening and now it was a stretch for me to be out that late. I thought about my favorite memories from when I first moved to NC- when we were ALL still those carefree 20-somethings having dance parties in the living room and New Year’s Eve pajama parties playing Wii and taking jello shots. It’s not that I miss those days, because my life is so wonderful now. I guess what I sometimes struggle with is finding that middle ground between being young, single and carefree and middle-aged, tied-down, and exhausted.
Maybe the middle ground comes later. I guess I can’t expect to have it all when I also have a one year old at home. She is my world, but she is not my everything. This mama needs balance.