When you become a parent, relationships change. Some get better, some get worse, and some evaporate into thin air. For me, friendships were crucial from the very beginning of motherhood. I needed the reassurance from my good friends that I was doing an okay job with my new title. But frustratingly, when I needed my friends more, it became more difficult to nourish those relationships. After all, there were bedtimes, naps, feedings, and illnesses we had to plan around — and that's not even including my friends' busy schedules.
I remember trying to coordinate playdates when my friends and I had babies. It was like navigating a trip with no destination. All of the infants were on different schedules, so finding a time to meet was nearly impossible. Yes, sometimes we gathered for a girls' dinner, but overall, it was just so hard. I mean, we had to plan those months in advance! But that was much easier compared to now. Back then, at least the kids weren't involved in activities on the weekends so we could almost always find a Saturday afternoon to hang out. Today? Forget it.
My kids are both elementary school age, so they are busy. Between soccer, ballet, basketball, and theater, most of our weeknights and almost all of our weekends are booked. With no time to socialize with friends, those friendships are floundering instead of flourishing. My husband and I taxi the kids to their activities, and in the evenings, we're too exhausted to plan anything that looks remotely adult. The thought of putting on regular clothes to hang with another couple sounds worse than getting an annual exam.
So, in the meantime, my friends and I — we simply understand each other. We get the fact that this time of our life is just too hectic. Our kids aren't babies or toddlers and we can't just cart them everywhere with us. And they don't have their own license yet either, so we are their only form of transportation. Empathy and understanding are what keeps our friendships alive. We don't say thinks like, "Suzy is impossible to plan anything with!" or "Let's just plan a night with her because she is SO busy!" Instead, we've learned that to nurture our relationships, we have to get creative and try a little harder.
Instead of spending time together in-person, we try to make our relationships work by using the good 'ol fashioned phone. Group texts and personal phone calls (typically made in the car on the way to soccer practice) save the friendships that I have. We use those same group texts to coordinate an entire weekend away, too. And with several women and their kids' crazy schedules, it's tough. But we make a weekend getaway happen once a year because it is worth it to us. Sometimes we rent a little cottage; sometimes we rent a couple of hotel rooms. But I'll tell you what, an entire weekend with no interruptions from husbands or children does wonders for our hearts — and relationships.
My friends and I know that the time will come when our children are older and our own heads will be covered in gray. We'll have all of the time in the world to get together nightly. But until then, we've chosen to give each other love and support through the phone and in the seldom times we get together in-person. I know that this tough time won't last forever, but the friendships that are worth it certainly will.