A mom's social calendar
One of the most rewarding things about #adulting is being able to look back on the stages of my life and acknowledge growth. I’m only about 18 months into my thirties, and wow it’s been the biggest change yet. Yeah, obviously, I became a mom. But it’s amazing how each stage of life offers perspective about the one before it. Today, I am reflecting on my social calendar and priorities.
We all know the things #newmoms rant about, like how glorious and seemingly unattainable a simple shower is, the sleep deprivation, and oh man - my husband’s useless nipples. But one thing I think I’m doing awesome at is maintaining some sense of individuality and doing things for myself. I’ve gone to concerts with girlfriends (no kids), birthday brunches (no kids!), and traveled for a four day work/social trip (no kids?). But making these things happen and choosing when to say yes (and when to say no), is where the biggest transformation lies.
When propositioned for a social outing, there are a series of subliminal checklist questions I work through:
What else is going on in my life this week? Was there a big deadline for work, therefore my focus with my family was limited? Do I have some other kind of engagement that week that puts an unfair balance of parenting on my spouse? When was the last time I stepped away from the daily grind, am I due for some mental health time?
What else is going on in my family’s life this week? Does this date conflict with potentially the only time for my husband, son and I to do something fun together? #familyfirst always, for me.
How tired am I? Did my son wake up 6 times last night, or only 1? This is real.
How excited am I about this proposition? Is it something I’m doing because I feel obligated to say yes to, or am I truly excited about spending time with this person, or doing that thing?
Seriously, the honesty with which I answer #4 these days is astounding. My time, my energy, and where I choose to spend those things are so precious compared to previous versions of myself. I am wayyyyyyyy more comfortable saying No to an invitation because, compared to prior stages in my life, I have so much less energy to give.
Contrasting this to previous stages of my life is entertaining. High school me was pretty predictable, but let’s be real. If I was being invited somewhere, it was unlikely I was saying no. College: Again, a say yes phase. It pushed me into a whole bunch of learning experiences. I’m glad for most of them, some I could have done without. Young professional: yes, yes, and yes. This was really where I went wrong. I established unfulfilling relationships and felt dread about commitments I made but didn’t want to keep. It’s probably where I became the most flaky version of myself, double booking social engagements and trying to satisfy everyone else while wishing I could stay home with a bottle of wine (hellllllo introvert).
Today? I say no without guilt. I let friendships slip, and distance grow. And you know what? That’s okay. Relationships, social engagements, etc. - all that requires energy, of which I don’t have much to give. I have to choose wisely. Those people who are worth my energy get this, they understand my perspectives. They know that if I say no to something, I’m saying no for me and not saying “no” because it has anything to do with them as a person. Moms get this more than anyone in my rolodex. It’s one of the coolest parts of this mom club.
I feel like the most freed version of myself because I have this built in drop out card: being a parent. People expect me to say no. People are more understanding if I say no. But even more than that, I feel so relieved to be able to say no. I don’t say yes for other people. And saying no doesn’t make me feel bad. But honestly, parent or not, I recommend this personal filter for your own social life. The key, I’ve found, is letting go of any negative feelings. Don’t let people make you feel bad (if they do, it’s okay if they start to slip away). Don’t say yes because you’re obligated to. Don’t feel bad if someone turns you down. Understand they’re choosing them, not making a statement about you as a person. They, too, have limited energies in life. We all have to preciously guard where we put our energy and how we share it.