The Unexpected Ways Motherhood Changes Your Social Life

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I sent a message to my two closest friends today to let them know that our child benefit credit amounts for the new tax year were now available in our online accounts.

(… Did you just fall asleep reading that sentence? I know I almost did.)

This is my life now.

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My friends have kids. I have a kid. And we’re in this weird sort of hermitic in-between phase of life. We work (many of us too many hours) and we go home. We cook, clean and put the kids to bed. What little time we have left is spent staring, bleary-eyed, at a computer screen: binge-watching and carb-loading like zombies to try to forget the stresses of our days.

Sometimes I wish for nothing but the carefree days of my 20’s. Some days I want to throw in the towel and do something haphazard like take a trip and not come back until I feel refreshed. (Like that time in 2009 I quit my job and took out a line of credit so my best friend and I could go on a European backpacking trip with no real set return date…).

Will I ever get to do that again?

That phase of my life ended so abruptly I didn’t even realize it was over until years later. I naively thought that, somehow, having a child wouldn’t dampen my social game in the least (or what very little social game I even had at that point because, let’s be honest – I was never a social butterfly). But as soon as that screaming 8 pounder landed in our laps, it’s been Seclusion City over here.

It’s so easy for me to fall prey to that whole “grass is greener” syndrome. Maybe it’s because my depression is always there, hiding around the next corner and waiting to capture me, but I am constantly romanticizing my past and feeling resentful about the present. It results in me feeling only half present in every interaction in my life instead of trying to embrace it fully.

These days it’s hard to get anyone to stay over past 10 p.m., and even by that time I’m yawning myself, no matter how badly I wish I wasn’t. I want nothing more than those carefree nights of zero consequence, but I’m so freaking tired I can’t even bring myself to plan one. And forget “couples’ friends”: there is no way in hell everyone is able to find or even afford a babysitter at the exact same moment in time. Getting everyone together at the same time and with the same level of enthusiasm is like seeing Halley’s comet*.

This is a strange time, my friends. As soon as you make that monumental decision to procreate, your social life packs its bags and heads for the nearest railroad, wandering like a hobo searching for the next 18 year old idealist college student just trying to “fit in”.

“Isn’t this what we were all looking for in our 20’s”, you say? “Didn’t we just want to settle down back then and pop out a couple of kids, but we couldn’t seem to find anyone who wasn’t a total douche-bag to do it with?”

I’ll be the first one to admit it: NOPE. I was not looking for that back then.

Until one day, I found myself wandering into that dangerous territory we call adulthood. Where people start settling down. Where our jobs provide a little more security and a few extra dollars and we can finally move out of that 3 bedroom apartment we share with 5 people for pennies on the dollar. When we start looking to (gasp) buy a home. When we start contributing to a retirement plan. Or when drinking on a weeknight starts to make us seem irresponsible and a bit unhinged.

I’ll be honest – kids were never on my radar screen. I spent my early 20’s feeling pretty positive I wouldn’t ever have them, and sure I would mess them up if I did. It probably worked out for the best, anyway – no way in hell would I have ever wanted to procreate with any of the dudes I knew back in those days.

Then this guy comes along, and he’s not a d-bag. And you can’t understand why he’s not bailing. And suddenly, it’s been 5 years, and you’re away at law school and missing him like crazy. You’re positive that the only thing that can remedy your insecurity and your current quarter-life crisis is to try what you’ve never wanted to try before: motherhood.

It’s scary as shit.

Thinking back, I cannot imagine my life without her. But, had I known in advance about the very real sense of loneliness that accompanies motherhood and how difficult it can be to put someone else’s interests before yours when all you want is another carefree night circa 2003 without the hangover and a kid to take care of the next day, I would have properly bid my social life goodbye. Or, at the very least, undergone some good-ass therapy.

When does it get easier? Now that we’ve all celebrated our 30th birthdays, the next milestone on the horizon is 40. FOURTY. YEARS. OLD. Does anyone know where the last 20 years have gone? Should I issue an Amber Alert for my 20’s and 30’s? By then, the kids (well, some of them) will be old enough to stay home alone… but what will we do for fun at age 40? Play darts? Weekly bingo at The Legion? Join a bridge team? At 40, any hope you have of clubbing or at the very least enjoying an all nighter fuelled by alcohol with friends just makes you look sad and on the brink of a mid-life crisis.

You’ve probably read those sappy mom-blog posts about treasuring the “last” time you’ll pick up your baby, or the last time she’ll ask you to hold her hand.

… I can’t believe I forgot to treasure the last time I fastened up my favourite dancing shoes, donned a strappy tank top purchased specifically for the occasion, wore too much glittery eye-shadow and packed a few extra beer into my purse to get me through the night.

RIP, early 20’s social scene. We never even had a chance to say goodbye.

 

*a rare and miraculous short-term occurrence that happens every 74-79 years (yes, I had to look that up).

 

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