Someone once described relationships (familial, romantic, and friendly) as a bank account. Sometimes you make a lot of deposits (giving ample time, attention, and care to others) and sometimes you make a lot of withdrawals (leaning on those close to you). I've always considered myself someone who really tried to make more deposits than withdrawals. Or at least made it 50/50.
But, since LF was born, I know I have been withdrawing A LOT. More than during periods of anxiety or depression. More than during infertility treatment. I've been relying on those close to me for support and understanding more than I ever have. While I was in the thick of the newborn stage, I didn't really think about this too much. I was consumed with day-to-day survival. Everything else, even basic showering and eating needs, took a back burner.
Now that LF is 6 months old, and I can function at about 75% of what my pre-baby capacity was, this has been on my mind a lot. I've noticed changes in many of my friendships. Some obvious, some subtle. But mostly, I'm feeling some distance from many of my friends. There aren't as many phone calls. There aren't as many visits. There aren't as many texts. Lately, it's been making me feel pretty sad. It is as though I made too many withdrawals in the early days of LF's arrival.
I mean, some of this is normal. We all have busy lives (with or without children) and as we age our jobs and personal lives get more and more demanding. It's also incredibly difficult for KG and I to do spontaneous things these days. Everything runs on baby standard time, and last minute cancellations are pretty common due to illness, etc. Some friends are wonderfully understanding about this. They roll with it, and know that it usually evens out in the end, because many of them are in the same boat.
However, some friends have a hard time understanding that it isn't as easy as, "Just take the baby with you!"
There are naps and feedings to consider, as well as certain times of day that bring out the best and worst in LF. Additionally, with LF's reflux, feeding him outside of our home was a nightmare for a long time, and I'm still carrying some scars from that. (We are just trying out a day trip with the baby this weekend for the first time and its stressing me out already.) I know some babies can sleep anywhere at anytime, but LF is not that baby. He will knock out in the stroller or carseat sometimes, but not reliably. We want to encourage him to be flexible, and we do try to sleep him in various places (bringing the pack n' play to friends' homes, etc.) but it doesn't always work, and then we have a very fussy baby on our hands and the overnights suffer as well. The trade-offs are sometimes worth it, but sometimes not.
The longer I am LF's mother, the longer I feel like he was made this way. Even as a newborn, he had really specific, and lets' face it: high maintenance, needs we had to meet in any way we can. He is who he is, and our job is to do what is best for him, at all times. It seems selfish to make my baby upset or uncomfortable because I want to drink wine with my girlfriends.
The hard part is the judgement I perceive when we have to say no to things, especially evening events that conflict with bedtime. I feel like sometimes we, LF's parents, are seen as the problem. That somehow we made him into a baby that has difficulty with feedings, sleeping, etc. That somehow if we were more "this" or more "that" then we would have made an incredibly easy infant that we could tote along at any time. KG recently articulated it really well. He said, "LF isn't a piece of luggage we can bring wherever and whenever we want. He's a person." He's also a person who can't yet speak for himself. He relies on us to intuitively make decisions we feel would make him the most comfortable.
But the other side of that coin is that it has been a long time between visits with some people close to us, and I'm sure they get as frustrated by that as we do.
I think it is probably time for me to start making more deposits into those relationships. Lately I've been reaching out more to friends to visit and spend time together, with and without LF. KG is often willing to hang with the baby while I hang out with a friend. We've gotten a sitter, and taken advantage of my mother's help, to have a dinner out here and there. We're even taking a trip to NJ to see some friends in a couple of weeks. Our first trip with LF!
Socially, we're slowly starting to make our way back into the land of the living.
I just hope we aren't overdrawn.