I remember the days when I could go to a party and talk to everyone I wanted to, for as long as I wanted to (sometimes for longer than I wanted to). But nonetheless there was an element of control there that no longer exists…I had some control over my social life.
This past weekend my husband, son, and I attended an engagement party for my cousin. This was one of the first events we’ve attended with him since he has been “on the move” – which makes me sound ultra-pathetic, because at 18 months, he has now been walking for about 7 months. But anyway, we all go to this party, and in some ways I felt like we were just playing with him in a different location, rather than spending any real amount of time catching up with, or talking to, our relatives. I got to talk to some family for a few minutes at a time – most of whom probably thought I had ADD – my eyes darting back and forth between them and my son, as he ran across the yard, baby stroller in tow. And of course the only way you can actually have an uninterrupted conversation with anyone is to do the “tradeoff” – my husband watches my son while I have normal, adult conversation, and then 15 minutes later (which, by the way, only feels like about 30 seconds when you are so desperate to cram in as much intellectually stimulating, non baby-talk fodder as possible), we tradeoff, and I take over baby monitoring duties. This, of course, ultimately leads to not spending any time with my husband at the party.
By the end of the party, I found myself apologizing to my family, saying things like “I’m so sorry we didn’t get to catch up more – I was running around after Jack the whole time”. They completely understood, but I can tell all of my cousins without children are thinking, “Oh boy, do we really want kids yet? Let’s wait a few more years.”
And to them I say, “Well, you’re never really ready”. You never have enough money, enough time, enough resources. But despite the fact that my social life is in purgatory right now, and probably won’t emerge until my last child’s 18th birthday, that is a “tradeoff” I am willing to make.