Tuesday, April 13, 2004

the coolest Wiggle and why i have no social life

It is very hard to make new friends once you're a parent.
That's the conclusion B and I have made about our lives. Maybe it's an excuse, maybe not. But we've been fairly friendly in our past and have had fairly active social lives. We liked hanging out with old friends and meeting new people. We liked being around people and we liked having plans. And it was easy for us to find interesting, fun things to do whenever we really wanted. There were always parties to go to and bars to hang out at and bands to go hear and play in, and wherever we went there were a lot of people there to talk to.

Not any more.
When our son was born, we tried to haul him around like a large accessory. We took him and all of his baggage to parties and restaurants. We napped him in his stroller and set up his portacrib in a various number of host's bedrooms. We “wore” him to streetfairs, museums, openings, and on hikes. We pictured ourselves as having this modern, carefree life and sharing it with our new son, who would also be modern and carefree. He would be adaptable and easygoing. And social.

Ha ha!

S turned out to be a slave to schedules (as most babies are, we found out) and would basically make our life miserable if he didn't sleep in his own crib from noon until 2pm and 7pm until 6am each day. As soon as noon hit, he’d begin screaming wherever we were. Once in a museum, a woman suggested that we try taking him home to bed. (Gasp!) We tried to plan roadtrips around his nap so that he'd sleep in the car, but he acted as if that nap didn't even count. So we finally gave into our small prince whom we had basically accepted would rule our lives until he was 18. We stopped going out.

Since most of our friends didn’t have kids yet, we figured we would just have to make some new friends who had kids and would be in similar situations. This wasn’t as easy as it sounded.

First of all, we couldn’t really find a good place to meet these other parents. B and I both work full-time so we couldn’t go to daytime playdates or playgroups during the week. Also, almost every single one of my friends or neighbors with kids stayed home with them and they weren’t interested in hanging out on the weekends or in the evenings because those times were usually reserved for “family time,” when both parents were home at once. As for working parents, I befriended a few of the mothers of S’s friends at daycare and actually made some really close friends. But truthfully, we were all way too busy to really get together too often. Everyone was playing catch up on the weekends and there was only a little bit of time for playdates. So basically, we saw our friends once or twice a month.

This changed when T was born. Not only did we have to factor in one nap, but now we had T’s two naps. She’d go down at 10am, S would go down at noon and then T would wake up, and then S would wake up at about 2pm just in time for T’s second nap. Our entire day was taken up with napping. And then when the kids napped, we did chores and errands. We had a clean house, napped childred, but were stir-crazy. We were tempted to go back to the baby accessory route, but T turned out to be a schedule slave, too. Go figure.

Okay, so the timing was difficult, but a good thing happened after T was born (of course, one of the many good things that came with delightful, chubby little T, but you know what I mean.). Our friends started having babies! Woohoo! We were ecstatic. B and I couldn’t wait for them to get settled with their routines so that we could get together, especially since our friends still thought their babies were portable sleepers. They’d be able to come to our house, put the baby down for bed in the portacrib and we could hang out like old times while the kiddies all slept. Ha ha. Apparently, B and I are the slow ones because our friends caught on to the routine problem much more quickly than we did. So now that our friends had their own babies, we saw them even less often.

And you know what? It doesn’t even matter because I found out recently that after three and a half years of being a mother, I’m practically socially unacceptable these days, anyway. Recently some old college friends came to visit and they stayed with us. B and I were so excited! We would get the kids down, break open the beer and reminisce of days long ago. That day, though, T hadn’t slept well with all of the excitement of having guests. (And you know, we’d been pretty lax about the routine thing, too. Maybe it had been our subconscious way of showing our friends what mellow parents we were.) She pretty much woke up every thirty minutes from 8pm until 10pm. I could see the lights flashing in sync to her yowls on the monitor and though we feel comfortable about letting our kids cry it out for a certain amount of time, I could tell our friends were nervous about T waking up their baby. They kept glancing at the monitor from the room their two-year old was sleeping in, and the whole conversation centered on sleeping, getting no sleep, crying, and the desire for sleep. That is, whatever part of the conversation I could hear, because I was suddenly unable to really track an adult conversation. I kept thinking about sleep—T’s sleep and whether or not I would ever get some. (Remember when getting some had nothing to do with sleep?) I found myself thinking about The Wiggles and their Hot Potato song. Then I wondered why Murray was still the coolest in the band, even though he only played air guitar. My college girlfriend was upstairs patting her son back to sleep. The guys were trying to talk about real music—something none of us had listened to for quite a while now. No beer was drunk.

And then at 10:01pm our friends looked at each other and then at us and then she said, “You know, all this talk about sleep is making me sleepy. I think we’re going to call it a night.” And instead of being disappointed, I was grateful that they understood, because at this point in my life, I’d take my pillow over a buzz anyday. So we said goodnight, knowing that we’d all be up at 5am to watch cartoons together.

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