Mark and I had some friends over this evening. This is something we haven’t done in a long time. We’ve had people over, but usually it involves other friends with kids, so there is a lot of chaos as we yell over the noise of the kids, and try to remember where the conversation left off before one of us was interrupted by rescuing a child off the side of the trampoline, or cutting someone’s chicken, or telling the boys that they must allow the girls to play with them, etc etc. So yeah. The whole intentional “just adults” socializing/hosting thing . . . it’s been a while.
We used to really like entertaining. Today I felt like I was trying to re-awaken some dormant part of myself. But simultaneously, I felt like an impostor – like I was trying to pretend to be a normal, functioning person again . . . . a person who lights candles in the evening, who puts music on the stereo, who sits and chats for two hours without falling asleep, who talks about interesting subjects beyond choosing a preschool or potty-training techniques. And the sense of pretending, or the sense of trying to be someone I used to be . . . the thing is, it wasn’t for the benefit of the guests (although the feelings of wanting to impress where there, certainly). But more so, there was this overwhelming feeling of wanting to be a “normal”, functioning, socially-connected adult again. And then a sad sense that I wasn’t, and that something as simple as having another couple over for coffee was outside of my capabilities right now.
The friends that came over are single. The guy is one of my husband’s friends from high school. He’s dating a cute girl in her twenties that I’ve only met a few times. Something about that combination – a guy in the corporate world, who doesn’t spend a lot of time with kids, and a girl still in college, coming over to my house . . . something made me start looking disapprovingly at my dirty floors, my fingernails, my formula-stained sofa, my three-inch roots, and my living room full of plastic toys. Suddenly I was looking at myself from the gaze of my former self, and wondering when I had gotten so tired, so messy, so scattered. So old.
I did manage to get the house decently clean, and the kids in pajamas before they came. I didn’t, however, manage to wash or brush my own hair today (or to pick up the prescription at Target that has been waiting for three days, or return the overdue library books or return one single email. But I digress).
And as they arrived, it was as I expected. They seemed refreshed and energetic, bearing a cute jug of high-end beer. She was adorable. She did brush her hair this morning. Her toenails were painted, her clothes were not caked in baby food. Her purse was not overflowing with diapers and sippy cups. She was funny and charming. So was he.
When they arrived, my kids were doing their usual routine of running through the house full-speed, trying to avoid bedtime. Not five minutes in, I could see them grimace at the noise level. It was loud. I was self-conscious. And then, the question. The question that was sort of a joke, but also an observation. An observation tinged with a little pity, and maybe just a hint of concern.
“Is it always this loud?”
Yes. It is.
The kids went down. The guests both went to the bathroom. I winced at the thought of how that room smells (a result of two boys with very bad aim and a neglected diaper genie). I made excuses. Haha – the bathroom stinks. Haha – don’t mind the laundry in the hallway. Haha – that drywall hasn’t been patched yet. Haha – sorry the hand towels are so dirty. Haha – Kristen SHUT UP.
We chatted. It was nice. They were lovely. We laughed at the chasm between us as we discussed carpooling to a mutual friends wedding, and debated whether we should drive in their Porsche or our minivan. Haha – I have a minivan.
But still . . . I felt like I was pretending. Pretending to be more than a tired, frazzled, overwhelmed mom. Pretending to be a grown-up. But a younger grown-up?
I don’t know.
It was a simple evening with friends, but it brought up a lot of stuff for me. I need to be more content. I need to be more grateful for my kids, and less whiny about the inevitable obstacles in this lifestage. I need to stop assuming that the fatigue I feel this week is the way I will feel forever. I need to get more sleep. At the same time, I need to take some breaks from the preschool set. I need to figure out how to be a social being and not just a mom.
I need to find more balance. And I need a pedicure. Stat.