I hung out with a good friend last night and we hashed out a lot of things that I have been going through, and some things that she has been going through, and it was great. We've been friends for the last five years or so, and she is always someone I can call on for a good patio night dish session.
But the thing that stuck with me when I got home was how much better I felt. And I had to think about that for a minute. I had just spent the last four hours talking about kinda depressing stuff, so why was I feeling better?
And I realized that it came from the moment where she said that she'd really like for our families to hang out, not just the two of us. It's nice to have those times, but she'd really like for our entire families to be connected.
She said it several times, to let me know that she was serious. I told her that we are still a bit of a mess as an entire family, that the girls still require a ton of attention and aren't kids that you can just send outside to play. And she said, "Ok, if it has to be short, it's short. You live a mile away. If you have to leave, you leave. No one's going to be judging them, or you. And maybe it'll be great."
And then she invited me to her fiancé's family farm, for a girls weekend. "You will love these ladies," she said. And I could picture it perfectly in my head, how relaxed the weekend would be, the food that we would eat, the wine we'd drink, the ache in my stomach from laughing, sighing under the stars.
And I wanted it. Badly. And immediately.
I wanted to see our kids running around in her backyard, laughing their heads off. I wanted her to hand me a beer and laugh at something dumb my son said. I wanted to see the men in our lives connect. I wanted to taste the amazing dinner I know that she'd make (it's lucky to have foodies in your life, especially when you are iffy on cooking, but love to eat).
It hit me then that I have been saying that I'm an introvert for the past half dozen years or so, but that's not actually true. I do like being at home, and when I'm at a big party where I don't know many people, I get uncomfortable. I need a brain break at the end of the night. So I chalked it up to being an introvert.
But I really enjoy being around people. I enjoy family time, but I also like being around people who are different from me. I like finding new people that are just like me. I just like people.
My husband and I questioned why we have become this way, so isolated. We were very social when we were younger, maybe me more than him, but he was always along for the ride. What happened?
Even though it pains me to point this finger, we wondered if a lot of it hasn't been because of Miss A's diagnosis. That was a low point for us all, and so much time and energy was focused in her direction, it wasn't easy to drudge up energy for anything else, including our friends. And that's right to me, that we did that. It needed to be done. It wasn't anyone's fault.
Luckily, our friends have mostly stayed by us. They knew what we were going through, and probably felt powerless to help. It was hard to live, but I imagine that it was also hard to watch.
But that season is ending, or at least getting better. I don't know if she's gotten so much better, or if I simply care less about the judgy stares, but we DO things as a family. We just haven't opened up our circle to include friends. And I miss that.
It occurred to me last night, as I was trying to go to sleep, that I'm in a very luxurious point in my life. One where I can wake up in the morning and say, "What is it that I want from today?" And then do that thing. My days are pretty wide open.
That's not to say that there's not a ton of hustle and bustle in being a stay at home mom and keeping up with the house, etc. Just like in any job, I have duties. But I am realizing more and more that 1.) I can include the kids in these duties and 2.) Some of this stuff really doesn't need to be done. No one cares if I sweep my floors every day, me included. (I totally don't and never have, but I feel guilty if someone is coming over and the floors are dirty.)
If I want to work on a craft project, or write, it doesn't need to wait until the kids are at school or in bed. They can either help me, go find something else to do, or sit next to me and do their own thing. A-freaking-HA! I can still exist AND be a mom. The two are not mutually exclusive. It's amazing! And I am an idiot for not realizing this years ago.
We had groceries delivered this morning, for the first time ever, which if you follow me on Facebook you know was a life changing experience. No stress! Happy kids! Happy mom! It really got me thinking. There are all these ways that I can make life easier on myself. What other things do I not know about?? How do I find these things?
I joined a writer's group last week, and the entire experience was incredible, and pushed me a little out of my comfort zone. But as I sat there, I realized that it put me right back into my comfort zone. These people are my people. They speak my language. And it's not a judgy one at all. They listened to me reading and responded to what I had written. They laughed! They laughed at my stupid mom stories, which is the only thing I seem to be able to write right now. And I said that and they said, "You write what you know. No big deal. We all do that." And I felt like.... HOME! I am home. And it was a little bit of a miracle.
But it really wasn't a miracle. A friend told me about this group, I asked about it, I drove there, I wrote, I participated. None of this is earth shattering. I can do these things. Lots of people do these things. I do not have to be bound to my house and my children. This is doing no one any good.
So I can't wait to have dinner with my friend's family. I want to find more friend's families. I want to go to the farm and connect with a bunch of sixty year old, hilarious women. I want to let them breathe life into me and help me feel whole again.
I want all these experiences, and I want to include my family in them as well. While I have felt like this is a personal experience that I am going through alone, it really impacts all of them as well. And I think we are all perfectly capable of stepping out of our comfort zones and enjoying a new experience, as squirmy and uncomfortable as it may feel at first.
This has been an intense few weeks, but for the first time in it, I see that there are concrete things that I can do. Things that I know that I will do. My life has unfolded in this way, but it doesn't need to stay this way forever. Really, having gone through some uncomfortable conversations, it's so much better on the other side.