It may be a cliche but I think that I can count the number of times I’ve been out socially, without the children since EJ was born, nearly 22 months ago, on one hand (possibly one finger*) *slight exaggeration.
Lately this has been getting me down somewhat. I miss having a social life, going to the cinema, arranging to get together with friends, being part of a book group, offering my extremely niche general knowledge (the capital of New Hampshire and the year The Wizard of Oz was released anyone?) to our former pub quiz team, you get the idea. Even when JJ had turned two and we had yet to convert that second twinkle into EJ, I was managing to attend regular zumba classes with a friend and the social world looked set to open up again slightly.
But then along came EJ and I was forced to recognise two major ‘no entry’ signs on the road back to a social life. Firstly, a second child, and in particular, having two pre-school children, so lacking any kind of independence, or the maturity to be reasoned with, can be stressful for one adult to deal with alone, particularly of an evening when the witching hour is in full swing. I’m sure there are some lucky people out there who have calm, compliant children – my exploration of the ‘no tantrum’ phenomenon has clued me into this unfamiliar circumstance, however, I have a little terror in the shape one impossibly unreasonable four year oldwho can quite quickly work his litte brother up into a state of manic high energy with chasing, wrestling and frantic leaping off beds and climbing up onto window frames – apparently having saved this physical and mental mania especially for bedtime – the point at which I have generally already been rudely introduced to the end of my tether! Now imagine expecting someone else to deal with this alone – even my parents. Even my husband!!
Which leads me on to my second No Entry sign. The fact that the hubster works some pretty random and varied shifts, often out at work in the evenings and at weekends. And when he’s not working, he has maintained regular gym attendances and does both ad hoc and organised runs.
I guess its impossible when you are in this situation not to look at each other with some degree of envy or at least a feeling of being left out, when/if one of us gets the rare opportunity to ‘go out’. This negative emotion is also responsible for a lack of forward planning that involves any kind of child free time. Sometimes its just easier not to ‘rock the boat’ (“watch out, give a shout, into the water we go!”).
For all of these reasons I was amazed to stumble into a rare opportunity for a night out last Saturday. The hubster had been working and I was staying overnight at my parents’ with the boys. Some time ago I had received an invitation to the 40th Birthday party of an old friend and work colleague who lives closer to my parents than to me, but I hadn’t properly RSVP’d as I had all of these fears and worries whirling around in my head. In the event though, it seemed that the hubster didn’t mind and my parents would already have the children both in bed at their house anyway, so I grabbed up my “Dorothy Shoes” (and yes, sure enough I was approached by another party-goer with shoe-envy asking me where she could get a pair – I don’t think I’ve ever owned a pair of shoes which has led to strangers approaching me before!) and headed off to the heady heights of the local Indoor Bowls Club.
Despite the fact that I was driving, only really knew a handful of people and knew I had to go home to share a room with EJ (who may or may not wake up crying in the early hours), it was liberating to go out, get dressed up (slightly – I really don’t have party clothes any more!), catch up with good friends and have a bit of a dance!
I’m so glad I was able to attend an event which meant a lot to a friend too as I don’t want to be that person who fades away, or gets reassigned to the mental compartment entitled “Sucked into black hole of family life never to be seen again” (you have one of those, right?).
And now, I continue to look to the future and wonder whether I will be able to pick up where I left off with my social life in my mid forites – a decade having passed in a purgatory of tears and tantrums.
Right now I feel this longing for a weekend off – just to maintain my sanity! But all the while I know that child free time will hove back into view eventually and I’m trying to focus on the magic moments rather than the manic moments. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…