“Have couple friends, and do fun outings with them.”
“Make sure you have a core group of girlfriends.”
“Make play dates for your kids. Join a ‘mommy and me’ group.”
We have so many people offering us this advice — not to mention the social media feed of happy couples doing happy things all of the time or pictures of girlfriends having a blast together. You see big groups of friends going on vacations and having what looks to be the best time ever.
I feel a bit out of the loop, ya’ll. I love people. I like to hang out once in a while. However, I also feel pressured to have to have this magical group of support from others all the time. It is a bit overwhelming to me.
I guess you could call me an outgoing introvert. When I am present, I have the best time, but most of the time, I will not be attending.
I have said “no” to so many invitations the past five-plus years that I can see my friendships starting to fizzle out, though not intentionally. I am just picky as to what and who I commit too. And not because of them, but because of me and the situation I find myself in.
I have a husband who works many hours. I teach seven-plus classes per week to lift others, am physically with them and completely give all of myself to them in the moments we are together. I also have four littles at home that need a lot of me. When I do have free time, I often choose to spend it alone or with the hubs, by ourselves.
When we do get a night free, we want to be together, alone, husband and wife. We have not been alone in six years, and the nights that we do have freedom from the four kids, we want to spend it together and get lost in a conversation by ourselves, reminiscing about the days it was just us two.
The room we had for friendships and couples’ nights out in the past were so fun. But now, everything has changed, but for the better.
The relationships I had time for back in the day included only having to worry about living for ourselves, making a phone call to friends at 4 p.m. to meet for dinner at 6.
I become nostalgic for the Saturday mornings of meeting up with girlfriends for a coffee or maybe a girls night out — maybe even an overnight.
During the weekends, we could pick up and just get away for the weekend without having to have any plan or structure as to what we were doing.
We had so much fun in those years. The memories made and relationships created were priceless. Good times always were had by all.
These days, my husband, Kevin, and my relationship has changed and grown in so many positive ways. Yet, feeling like we love one another more now than we ever have, I also feel like we have a lot of distance between us. We have jobs to maintain, and now, where there was once free time, there are four kids.
I am done feeling guilty. And done feeling like I am an outcast to the world of clicks needing to attend events. I am grateful for friends, but the friends that I can maintain and the relationships that I care to tend to are the ones that understand that I am not likely to be physically present at many events right now. My children and my relationship with my husband always are going to be front and center. If at the end of the day I have any more energy to give, it is going to be to myself, my own best friend, me.
I have to be sure that all is well within our four walls before I extend out to anyone or any other relationship in my life.
If you understand that, I feel as though you and I are destined to end up in each others path someday. If you feel this way, too, remember you are not alone, you are not antisocial and you are not missing out. You are doing what serves you. You are feeding your soul. You are watering your garden. If there is space and time left for others, you will let them in with an open heart, and your cup runneth over.
Addie Graffin is a freelance columnist and blogger based in Platteville, Wis. Read more at www.HealthyHairdresserAddie.com.