I am going to make a little confession.
I am not the greatest friend right now. I am not looking for pats on the back or comfort words that I am. I just want to share why it is hard for me to be/feel/expend energy on being a good friend.
It’s the reality. I really haven’t been putting my best foot forward in the friend department.
But in all fairness, I am trying to raise a little human being to not be an awful human being, which unfortunately takes all my attention and energy that otherwise use to be spent on friendships.
For me it is hard to be a good friend and to be a good parent to a toddler.
It may take me longer to answer texts or phone calls than the average person. It can be hard to talk on the phone while trying to keep George from eating ALL of the dog food. Or I see a text, but don’t have enough time to answer before George unlocks the front door and walks out to our yard naked. When he is asleep at 8:30, the last thing I want to do most days is to have a conversation, no offense. Being an introvert, that alone time after he goes to bed is extremely vital to my own sanity to make sure I am a good person. Plus I am at a point in life where calling people after 8 seems super late.
I am missing one of my dear friend’s weddings this weekend. I have cried over missing this, but it is the reality of being a parent of a toddler. It just is not feasible or practical for me to travel alone with George, nor really go alone for 3-4 days with Tom’s schedule. Our situation just doesn’t lend well to it right now. He was an angel baby when he was 7 months old driving across the country last year, but this year is a different tune. George thinks he is independent, but he is still at that age where I have to carry things for him and be his shadow to make sure he gets to where he needs to be. And being in a car for more than an hour is just not happening if I am driving solo. Then there is the cost and time of traveling with a toddler…I can be pretty low maintenance traveling and cut corners for myself, but George is high maintenance and will still expect snacks at certain times. As a parent, you are at their beckon call regardless if you are at home or staying in a swanky hotel.
When I have traveled with him lately, I don’t really focus on the company I am seeing. I am more worried about what George can get his little hands into. When a place isn’t baby proofed, I can’t relax and sit and enjoy a conversation because I am worried that he may break something of yours. This makes it easier just to stay home where I know he can’t reach any breakables and I know his limits on climbing furniture. It can be very stressful to take a very curious toddler into unknown terrain, because again I still have to be his shadow. Then there are the tantrums that I don’t normally have to deal with because I am constantly pulling him away from things and telling him no. I know his reach and we have created that buffer zone in our own home. Or I end up having to hold him the whole time. I am not asking that people create that in their spaces, but this makes it difficult to see the fun in traveling and taking George places. It’s not that I don’t want to hang out with you or find your place annoying, I just don’t want my kid to pull a glass figurine on his head or run into sharp corners. Personally I have found it hard to shake the toddler shenanigans and just sit. His safety is always on my mind. As much as it pains me to say, this isn’t my idea of a fun friend date.
And then there is this…
Even going out to dinner here in town is not an easy task. There is a reason that our Friday night’s are spent at a grocery store diner with our family. There are six grown ups (and one spirited 6 year old cousin) to tag team him, and it is social acceptable for him to walk around the store. Most restaurants are not super kid friendly for a roaming toddler. Trying to get a 20 month old to sit still for a couple hours just sounds like torture.
Trying to find a time to “hang out” in between our work schedules and George’s sleep schedule is often a nightmare. We have been trying to find a time for friends of ours to come over for the last 9ish months. Why is this so hard?
I hate that we have had to say no a lot, but it’s the world I live in. George is my priority and that comes with certain sacrifices from our previous lifestyle. It may sound like I am complaining about being a parent, but I assure you this is the role I love most. There is a reason that I am choosing him first. I love hanging out with him, and I want to make the most of the precious time that we have together. I just want people to understand that I personally haven’t yet found that balance of being a good friend and a good parent. I love my kid though and I want to be there and present for him during this time. It can be hard when I have friends living their own life to find time to mesh all of our needs.
I am not trying to make excuses, I know there are things that I can do differently as a friend. I try to schedule a couple lunch dates each month, but that doesn’t help when you don’t live in town. I am not asking for praise that I am a mom and “trying to do it all” because let’s be honest does anyone really do it all? I write this because I am sad that I know some connections have waned because I became a mom and my priorities (rightfully so) shifted to George. And I wonder if other moms struggle with this, and how do we work out of this friend hole?
I ask for forgiveness if I haven’t sent you birthday cards in the past few years. I ask for understanding when I say we can’t make it to your life event, but also don’t want you to stop asking because sometimes we can make it work. I ask for flexibility when you make plans with us and know that my attention will be divided if we aren’t in our own home. I ask if we do invite you to our home, please know that this is a big deal because it means that I have probably taken the time to clean and put away laundry and mail which is a rare occurrence at our house.
I also hope that friends know I am always “here” for you. I still cheer and cry for you from afar. I still pray for you daily. I still cherish the bonds that we have. My seemingly neglectful style of friendship is in no way a representation of how I actually feel about you. I promise I will try to do better!
What I am saying is I would love to have visitors because I miss my friends, but I am also going to put my kid first because he is my world. (And toddlers are needy) I have a lot of peanut butter cheese crackers and wine to entice you for a visit.
I know there are parents out there who manage to be great parents and have a great social life. Please share your secrets. How do you balance wanting to be there for your kid and not missing anymore than you already are and maintaining friendships outside of your family? Is this just the season we are in right now?