Being a new parent can be a very isolating experience. Right after the baby is born friends and family come by to poke and coo and to bring a noisy toy that will likely become the bane of your existence. But not long after the visits start to drop off. Friends that don’t have kids would rather go out on Friday night than sit and talk to you about how many times your baby pooped that day. And who can blame them? Friends that do have kids have their own families to worry about. Even family goes home eventually and gets back to their lives. After awhile it is just you and that baby at 3:00 in the morning. (Before my husband serves me with divorce papers I have to qualify that he got up at night too with the baby, but at 3 AM nobody is good company.)
Before I had kids I was a fairly social person. I loved having friends over for dinner or drinks or for a BBQ. So it was something that I really missed after I had the twins because it wasn’t so easy to do anymore. Dinner parties are a little tricky when they interfere with bedtime and quite honestly once the kids were asleep entertaining was the last thing on my mind.
The other problem was that I was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to having people over. The house had to be clean, the table set, the food ready, everything in order and… perfect. Once I had kids, the pursuit of perfection was unattainable. Forget about trying to clean the house while three kids play dress up, fire station and school bus all at the same time. Forget about trying to cook something that doesn’t come out of a box without greasy kid fingers poking at it. Forget about putting out the wine glasses from our wedding or god forbid, a table-cloth! Although it doesn’t really matter because there are only three wine glasses left anyway.
Trying to live up to pre-kid standards was exhausting to think about let alone to try and achieve. This is how I entered the isolation tank. The one that I would enter upon returning from work on Friday night and exit on Monday morning when I left for work. It looked a lot like my house.
But after a while a funny thing started to happen. I started to realize that I really liked being around other people. People who are not my kids or my spouse. And my kids liked to be around other people, that are not me or my spouse. So I realized I had to change my standards because all the cleaning and prep and preciseness just wasn’t fun or realistic anymore. I just wanted company, conversation and food that didn’t start with mac and end with cheese.
Now I might be giving myself away but I have a new-found respect for potlucks, paper plates and storage closets. A potluck means good friends and good food that I didn’t have to make and answering the door looking semi-fresh because I am not red-faced and sweaty from a cleaning/cooking frenzy. Paper plates means little to no clean up and almost anything can be stuffed into a storage closet for a couple of hours. These little “modifications” give me the time and opportunity to be with friends, to enjoy them and to enjoy myself.