I miss having friends, but not as much as I thought I would.
I still have friends, but not the kind of friends I used to. Currently, with two kids under the age of 6, it's mainly texting. Rarely is it phone conversations. Actual in-person interactions are even more rare.
Initially, when I became a new mom for the second time after giving birth to my second daughter, I had visions of playdates and excursions and, essentially, my life remaining the same as when I just had one child. It didn't stay the same.
My new baby was difficult to breastfeed with any noise or activity anywhere nearby, so nursing her at restaurants was completely out. The friends I had, who would invite my oldest daughter and me over, stopped inviting us. I had to retain a sense of normalcy for my oldest, and for myself, but it was hard. Everything was harder with two kids, at least at first.
Then, somewhere, it got easier. It happened so gradually I didn't notice it. But I began realizing I was taking my kids out to lunch, or to grocery stores, and that we were places besides tucked in our family room, and it was going relatively well. To be fair, I save most of the "big" errands for the weekends when we can do them as a foursome with their dad. Going on our main grocery store runs, for instance, or apple picking like we hope to do this afternoon—these have become Saturday things instead of "Mommy and Me" weekday ones.
Somewhere my two daughters became friends. Two days ago they were sitting cross-legged with their knees touching, heads huddled forming a heart shape with their bodies, whispering about the television show they were watching, while my husband and I watched them without their knowledge from the kitchen. They play so well despite their age gap that, twice last week and once the week before, my toddler had meltdown crying sessions over missing her big sister; begging me to go pick her up from school.
Somewhere having two kids became easier than having one. I could shower — fast, hurried showers still, but, nonetheless, I didn't worry as much, or hear phantom cries, about my children getting hurt because now they'll run into the bathroom and say "uh oh" if anything happens to each other (even things I don't need to know about, like a booger on the end of someone's finger).
Somewhere on this meandering journey of raising two little girls, I've become so used to having two children that those four years when it was only my oldest daughter and me seem like warm, fuzzy memories I have to hold onto carefully.
Somewhere I have to remember these "Mom of little kids" years, although full of challenging days when I wish I wasn't the only adult home with them until close to dinnertime, are so far easily the best of my life — maybe they always will be.
I told a stranger during a conversation at a restaurant — out with my two kids — that if I had known how wonderful having siblings would be, I might have been less afraid and done it sooner. (He and his wife are getting close to wanting their second child.) I wouldn't do it differently, of course — even if I could. I love these two little people, and I really do cherish the "alone" time I had with my oldest. More, this spacing allows me to have some "alone" time with my second born before she goes off to school, too.
But my daughters are not my friends, although I want them to enjoy my company — although I enjoy theirs — they're my kids. I'm the grown-up. And I still need friends.
I need friends, but my time right now is limited. I can and do plan self-care. Exercise, reading a good book, writing — all ways I nurture my own well-being — are activities I plan and wiggle into my life, but the stark truth is I only have a handful of years out of all of the ones that will make up my life to have these two little people under my care.
It will be gone in a flash.
In what will feel like a split second, my husband and I will have no more diapers in the house. Our sleep will be mostly unbroken. Our lives will fold back into itself in a new kind of normal; one where we aren't caring for people smaller than waist or knee height.
I don't want to rush these years, even if some days I would speed up a touch. I don't want to talk over my kids asking me to do a puzzle with them to make a phone call to a friend who I do love and miss, but who hopefully will understand I'll have a much easier time talking in five years. In this meantime, let's text and keep one another close in our hearts.
In this meantime, I'm here, living mindfully with my children, more than aware that my "Mommy" years are limited.
My oldest already calls me "Mom" sometimes. I asked her yesterday when she started calling me Mom instead of Mommy, and she tilted her head curiously at me and grinned. Like I caught her at something. Like I caught her at growing up.
And I do miss my girlfriends. My sister is getting married, and I'm racking my brain to figure out how I can plan a halfway decent bachelorette party around kids' bedtimes and the fact that they still wake up at 5 a.m. regardless of when Mommy drips herself into bed.
I do miss my easy, hour-long talks with friends in other states. I miss making plans to see movies my husband won't want to see with me. I miss it, but not as much as I anticipated.
Because, somewhere, my life as a mother became not a consumption of the person I still am outside of parenting, but it became enough. At least for right now.