Thursday, September 2, 2010

Another Parental Episode Waiting to Happen

Where have all the friends gone?

You hear about how children will change your life. True. They also change your body, outlook, sleep patterns and attention span. Nobody tells you that your friends will - in a seismic shift - disappear. It's as if a crack opened in the ground, swallowed scores of people, and then snapped shut, leaving me to wonder what the hell happened.

Or maybe I am the one that has been swallowed alive. Swallowed by Parenthood. And I'm floating alone in this place saying, "where is everyone?" And even when I do run across a friend, the script goes, "Hi! I have three minutes to make a meaningful connection."

On top of that, I'm apparently annoying and impossible to relate to. I so love that state of being, but again, I've got about three minutes to worry about it before the next parenting episode begins.

I'm sad about my usual friends, but I'm also distracted, trying to keep up with my everyday life which has been steadily getting That Much Harder while I wasn't looking.

It's not that I'm not connected to other moms, it's just that they are not my usual set of friends. I do have a lot of people I kinda know in a friendly way. That's good, right? And I'm meeting a few new people, and they seem nice as we are exploring avenues of mutual sympathies and conversation. It just feels odd to find myself trying to get to know a new set of people who may or may not really be my new good friends, when I know perfectly well that my old friends are out there living their exciting lives. Going to concerts, staying out late, having long meaningful conversations with other people. I, on the other hand, am restricted to a few moments a day for socializing, or up to an hour of fragmented lunch time conversation. My husband and I take turns going out dancing. I've missed dancing and socializing, so I really love this, but it's still so odd to be there without him. Why yes, we are still married, we're just... parents.

My husband says I'm just in a different place in my life now. Well, nobody told me it was going to eat my old friends!

I wonder if my usual friends are not used to taking advantage of whatever moments we have. Many of my parent friends are used to working quick conversations or projects into any little space in the action. My non-parent friends are perhaps too leisurely to mesh with my sped-up life these days. By the time they are feeling like enjoying an activity, I'm all like, "Oops, that's all the time we have for that today! Gotta go for lunch and nap." Even on social arenas like FB, my frequent interactions are with friends who are at a distance, as if we've learned to not take communication for granted. If you want to keep in touch, ya gotta seize the moment.

The up side is that I am finding other people to relate to. I do have people out there who are happy to see me. But getting people to talk to me in the few moments I have... it's not been easy. Even when I am not in a hurry, my brain is scanning for trouble.

Well, some new and old things I've been doing recently:

Taking turns going dancing.
Plodding along on quilt projects. That's a seam or two per week.
Reading books (at night).
Walking to the park farther into the neighborhood so I get more exercise.
Making an effort to chat with some of the other parents I see.
Going to church services again, listening to music and sermons, seeing folks.
Attending a friend's bi-monthly play group where the little girl is comfortable with the other parents and kids.
Cooking more meals with local food.
Writing more (short) letters.
Trying to have more real conversations when I do see people I know. "Hi! I have three min- errr, seconds!"
Writing blog posts between parental episodes. "Hi! Time for bed!"


Flying Saucer Jones said...

I'm still around and haven't changed too much. On the inside anyway. You may not recognize the man on the exterior, though; why I even frightened myself when I walked past a mirror.

Always up for a chat be it 3 seconds, 3 minutes or 3 hours.

Joy! said...

And I'm very glad of it, too! :)

Oops, my broad generalities are catching up with me again. I know I still have friends like you around; It's not that I am unappreciative. But I see scads of people falling by the wayside, and it just feels very strange. So I mutter and sigh and blog about it. Maybe I need a disclaimer: No, I'm not talking about you! ;)

Flying Saucer Jones said...

I did fall by the wayside once. How on earth did you see me from so far away?

I naturally assume that any posts that arise from muttering and sighing are in no way directed at me (due to my marvellousness, of course.) Incredibly flattering things are, on the other hand, always assumed to be about me even if they specifically mention other people. (Huge grin!)

Lori said...

I had a somewhat different situation when I became a parent, thanks to moving to the other side of the world. My friendship circle disappeared to some extent because I was new here so didn't make too many new friends during the first few years. And the old friends were still where I left them for the most part but less easily contacted in those days the internet was still a fairly novel thing. I do identify with that change in the kind of people you find yourself meeting as a parent of a baby or young child. It's kind of surreal sometimes.