…but they don’t have to end.
Once you have a child you’re going to find that all of a sudden you don’t have quite as much free time (or energy!) to go out in the evenings. Saturday nights don’t look like this anymore:
(No more hanging with the girls every night–although the bunny slippers can probably stay.)
(No more hitting up the local pub on a whim.)
(It’s a theme party. Shut up.)
If you’re a working parent, you might find that those 3 hours you get to spend with your child each weekday are precious, sacred. It’s pretty hard to get me to give up a moment of that time.
The same goes for the weekends–after being able to spend very little time with my son during the week, I soak up the time on the weekends.
Not to mention, all of a sudden going out becomes more expensive. Now it’s not just dinner and drinks–you have to hire a babysitter. It adds up.
And if you’re breastfeeding your baby, it adds a whole new dimension to it. You can’t just leave a bottle of formula or expressed milk for the kid and forget about it. At some point during your fun-filled night, you’re going to have to excuse yourself to go sit in a dark car and pump. Sometimes twice.
And even if you make it all happen and you go out on a Friday evening with your buddies, there’s no sleeping in the next day. Junior doesn’t really care that you stayed out too late. 7am (if you’re lucky) comes at the same time, even on Saturday morning.
If you have a family support system who can help you out every now and then, count your blessings. We get to leave our son with his grandmother sometimes for an overnight stay. This allows us to go out on a Saturday night, and sleep late on Sunday. But that’s not free either. Our price is in the form of a Nana-hangover. J, like most kids, doesn’t sleep quite as well in his pack-n-play. He goes to sleep later, wakes up earlier, and usually refuses his nap. She’s way too cool and exciting–so he will fight sleep like the plague, and once the kid is off his self-imposed schedule, all hell breaks loose. By the time we pick him up on Sunday afternoon, he’s exhausted–which means we bring him home and struggle with him for the rest of the day. Then he wakes up frequently throughout the next night and way too early the next morning. It usually only takes 24 hours for him to fall back into his normal routine. But that’s a 24-hour debt we have to pay.
Is it worth it? Without a doubt. But we also don’t want to over-use our free babysitter. So for all of the above-mentioned reasons, going out just doesn’t happen as frequently as it did pre- Baby J.
This is how weekends look now:
(And I’m fine with that.)
Some friends understand this, some don’t. Some get tired of the rejected invitations and so you gradually stop hearing from them. It’s sometimes those without kids, those who are in a different place in their lives, that you might find yourself drifting away from. But I’ve also found that sometimes parents with kids who are older have forgotten what it’s like to have young kids. And sometimes parents who do have young kids just don’t have the same struggles we do, whether it’s because their kid is on a less-structured schedule, or they get to spend more time with them during the week so going out doesn’t feel like such a sacrifice, or paying a babysitter doesn’t cut into their budget quite as much–whatever the reason, they don’t always get it either. Everybody’s situation is different.
Still others make the best of it–they don’t mind coming to your house for a cookout and drinks. They don’t mind that at 9pm, you’re fighting to keep your eyes open. They just hug you, say they’ll see you soon, then head out to wherever their night is taking them–while you go to bed.
Your friendship circle will expand too. You’ll make “mom friends,” and they may be ladies who you wouldn’t have necessarily met or been friends with if you didn’t share the bond of motherhood. It’s important to balance your new friendships with your old ones. Maybe you think your mom friends “get it” more than your friends without kids–and maybe you’re right. But don’t jump on the “you don’t understand” wagon if you haven’t bothered to stop and explain it. They may not have kids, but they do have responsibilities–they might get a whole lot more than you think if you’ll give them the chance to do so.
And here’s where they’ll change for the good: you will have the opportunity to love them so much more. Those friends who stick around, who encourage you as a parent, who love your kid, who ask you about him, love on him, babysit him so you can go out with your husband. You will love those friends like you never knew you could love a friend. Because anybody who loves your baby, secures a place in your heart.