Last weekend, I did a little calculating. I’ve been pregnant or nursing for more than two years now which means my social life has also been very limited for more than two years. So naturally, I took it out on Mike. He came home from work on Friday and said, “I forgot to mention I’m planning to meet up with Matty [his former roommate and longtime friend] tonight. He’s just in town for the weekend. Do you mind?”
I felt my horns, scaly green tail, and fire-breathing snout begin to grow. My being in utter limbo without a car (we sold one since we won’t need them in the city and he’s been taking the other to work) for the last two weeks has made me extra reliant on his company in the evenings and on weekends. There are lots of times as a stay-at-home mom on regular days with a car to use for errands and play dates that I still find myself looking at the clock and thinking, “Only 2:00? Still three more hours till Mike gets home. Ugh.” And to Mike’s defense, he spends almost every free second with me and the kids, so he definitely doesn’t get out enough, either. But on Friday, in my mind, that was completely overshadowed.
Cooped-up days of scrounging to find screen-free activities, zero kidless social time, and months of sleepless nights of nursing crowded my mind. But, rather than going the direct route, I took the passive-aggressive one.
“I thought all of us were meeting at the park for a play date tomorrow?”
“We are,” he said. “But we wanted to meet up tonight too so we don’t bore you guys with all of our catching-up talk tomorrow.”
Smoke drifted from my nostrils. “And you decided to tell me about this two hours before you’re supposed to meet him?”
At this point, I became full dragon; I became The Hulk. I could feel my green muscles ripping through my shirt with rage. I won’t bore you with the details from the rest of the conversation, but you can imagine the argument that ensued. I’m still not sure whether it was the not telling me of his plans in advance or the jealousy of not being able to go out that made me lose it, but in the end, the conclusion we came to was the need for both of us to socialize.
Mike will be getting out a lot (and by a lot, I mean that I’ve been warned to basically accept that happy hour will be a mandatory class for him) in NYC, and I’m hoping I’ll soon be able to get out and about more often, too. Although Kate is still waking every three hours during the night (can you believe that?), I’m hoping that since she’s started warming up to a bottle that I’ll be able to get some time away from the kids.
Mike and I have become pretty good at diffusing our arguments (he’s better at it than I am). Marriage has been like the merging of two “cultures” for us–opposite personalities, upbringings, experiences, approaches, and, not to mention, we know men are from Mars and women are from Venus–but, in the end, we both want the other to feel supported. We are a team, after all, and we share the same core values. And, oh yeah, we happen to love each other. So together we came up with five interactions that we want to do a better job of incorporating to enhance our well-being. Here they are, not arranged in any specific order.
1. Kidless friend time. We each need time away from the family to spend with our own friends. To laugh, to vent, to reminisce, to share. Is there anything more refreshing than a good sesh of x-rated girl talk? 🙂
2. Date time. I think we’ve been on two one-on-one dates since Kate was born. And both times, we talked about how rejuvenating it was to have long, meaningful conversations together without my worrying that Kate would wake up, without the computers or TV enticing us to them when the kids are in bed, just the two of us talking over dinner, drinks, or coffee. We fell in love over such conversations, after all.
3. Couple-friends time. It’s important to us to have a shared social outlet. There’s research that finds having strong social relationships to be the biggest contributing factor to a person’s happiness. It’s fun to have friends you can share together.
4. Out-of-the-house alone time. I think everybody needs time away from being mom and wife and daughter and sister and friend to just be. Even if it’s just to read a magazine, drink a coffee, run an errand, meditate, or exercise. It’s amazing the way just a thirty-minute chunk of time to yourself can nourish your soul.
5. Family time. On evenings and weekends with two kids, we often find ourselves each taking a kid and splitting up to get errands run, etc. It’s important to us to have family time, just being, enjoying this fleeting phase in our life together as a whole unit.
What are the interactions that enhance your well-being?