Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The not-so-obvious changes

When I became a mom/parent, most of the "new things" were obvious. My sleep changed, my diet changed, my availability changed, my time management changed, you get the idea. My social life changed as well. Not that I lost a lot of friends (actually, I gained some friends back, since I was the one without kids and they had already been down the temporary separation of peeps with no kids), but the idea of socializing itself had changed.

I vowed not to be one of those parents that never hangs out because of my kid(s). I vowed never to be a slave to bedtimes, naps, and routines. Most of the time, my kid goes to sleep when he's tired and it's my choice to take him home, or attempt car sleeping. I pay the price when I don't take him home, but sometimes that's worth it.

Recently, I took K to a party. It was a party that was technically for adults. K is really adaptable, friendly, and generally in good spirits in other places. While I was excited for the invite (it was from someone I didn't know well, but wanted to get to know better), I knew that I would be juggling K and socializing. 

To be honest, it was hard. K doesn't walk, but he's an excellent/fast crawler and he's curious. Wants to get into everything. EVERYTHING. So I had him in the backpack for a short bit, until he got uncomfortable, and then I let him out. But I had to run around following him, taking things out of his hands, and monitoring his every move. Ugh. Exhausting, but I don't know if I would do it differently next time.

If every social gathering K goes to is built around him/other kids, then 1) I don't get to visit with adult friends who don't have kids (or their kids are grown), 2) I have to make a bigger effort to organize playdates and our schedule is always in flux it seems and 3) now I have to do things based on my kid, instead of the other way around. When he gets more vocal and mobile, I know this will shift, but for now, I'm still into hanging with my friends, with kids or not.

And here's the part I didn't anticipate: many of my friends won't ever have kids. So they'll continue to hang out with the adults, and I guess I won't see much of them anymore. Because the truth is that many events aren't geared toward kids. In fact, traveling in groups isn't designed for kids unless it's designed for kids. We can't "road trip" to concerts or take our kids to a late-night movie. We can't even go to a late-night movie unless we have someone watch K at our house. Otherwise he won't sleep or we'll have to wake him to take him home and it's not always/usually worth it. 

I didn't anticipate the sadness I'd feel either. Camping with kids doesn't really work for people who don't have kids. There's no more staying up until all hours, drinking (okay, I don't do this anyway, but alcohol and babies isn't a good mix for me), being loud, etc. Just like at home, there are things we need to do, milk gets made, diapers changed, new surroundings acclimated to, and camping seems to fall off the radar the second the baby comes. Boo, I say. That blows. So now camping is about kids and planning and what I loved about camping was kinda not planning. 

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't give up having a family to have beer around a stinky campfire. But no matter how much life I lived before baby, I'll just miss some things. And in the in-between stage (usually from birth til your child is about eight or so), the not-so-obvious changes occur. I don't want to, but I need to think really hard about "hanging out" now. It's not hanging out...it's dragging my kid to an event, where I want to socialize, but where it's not easy for him to crawl/play/be. If papa doesn't come along, then I am the point person for blowout diaper changes (many, if not most, of them occur outside the home for me), food meltdowns, and crappy naps. I don't want to subject any of us to that. 

But it just makes me sad and I didn't think about that part of me having to say goodbye. 

I look forward to finding new ways to hang out, complete with my kid and hubby/papa and not worrying about crying at night or diaper blowouts. That's why meeting new people and making new friends with kids is great. No one cares. I don't have to track my conversation. I don't need to follow my kid around. And everyone is glad he's there.

I'll probably still drag K to a few parties...because while it's easier to be with other families, I also don't want to talk about my kid all the time. And so continues the paradox of parenthood (the name of my next blog, after I've let everything go...).

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