So everything in life ebbs and flows, right? Sometimes you have enough time and energy to devote to things, and sometimes you just don't. So some things fall away for a while until you can pick them back up again. It doesn't mean they are any less significant or make you any less happy, but they aren't essential for keeping day to day life running. When you are managing a family, it is hard, because there is so much that is constantly requiring your attention. Things you can't get away from...like a job (because money), grocery shopping (because someone has to feed all the mouths), paying bills (because lights and electricity and water are important things to have), and laundry(because it really looks bad on you if your kid goes to school in dirty clothes). And things you love to do, but there are never enough hours in a day to do them all, and sleep frequently wins out...blogging, knitting, talking to and seeing friends, reading a book that doesn't have pictures, taking a long hot bath, sitting down and eating a leisurly breakfast, catching up on all the shows piling up on my dvr...see my list of would-love-to-but-not-essential is way longer.
I know this is just life...a life I am so grateful to have, and have long ago accepted this and resigned myself to the fact that there are times in my life when I just can't and won't fit in everything I have to do and would love to do. Sometimes it is weeks in between reading chapters of a book on my kindle. And I know that everyone else is in the same boat, too. And I don't get offended or bent out of shape when I don't hear from my friends for a stretch of time. I know that when we all finally come up for air there will be a text or email saying "hey, life was crazy for a minute there. how are you?" and it's all good. I don't live in a scene out of some movie where everyone lives in the same neighborhood and takes turns hosting dinners at their house and carpooling kids to and from school and sports and scouts. We are all spread out and spread thin. All our kids are different ages, they don't go to the same schools, let alone have the same activities. We catch up when we can and try to squeeze in a meet-up for coffee or get together on days off, but it is hard.
I have this one friend who is single, never been married and has no children. Up until pretty recently she was my closest friend. She is even the Godmother to one of my children, so I know she will always be in my life. Bur since my pregnancy and having my 4th child, the differences in our lives have become so much more evident, and I find myself not as drawn to our friendship as I once was. I think this mostly happened because an eight year gap between kids is huge. Basically, it was starting all over again, but it feels like it has been harder because not only do I have 3 older children who require totally different things from me than a baby, but we are on the move much more than if I had a house full of toddlers. And...I am a decade and a half older than I was when I had my first kid. I am no spring chicken and I can feel it. Being pregnant again is crazy hard, in that I really have no energy to devote to extra things. I also don't have the brain power to juggle a million things, either. My focus is already so scattered. Some days I don't remember to answer a text until hours later. It is just how it goes sometimes. I am not a 20-year-old with my phone in my hand at all times. Usually, I don't even know where my phone is.
Also, the older I get, the less tolerant I am of people who don't tolerate my life. You think my kids are too loud and crazy and my dogs too wild and needy? Then don't come over my house. If you come over my house and yell at my kids or dogs for being kids or dogs...then you piss me off and force me to say something to you telling you to leave them alone, which makes you upset with me but I don't care, and then I don't want to invite you back. So I don't extend that open invitation any longer.
Yes, that is one of the many things this friend does that completely annoys me. I know it comes from being friends for so long that she feels comfortable saying things, but it isn't her place and we have had the discussion before, and it never ends well. Coming over for meals and grabbing and fixing her plate before I can even get my kids fed...asking me to fix her plate, mock-complaining when I don't but she is actually serious...crashing cookouts and not contributing anything at all, mooching basically. BUT if someone did that to her, she would be so angry and let them know. But I am a mom, and that's just what I do, take care of and feed everyone, right??
Then there are other things that might seem silly or insignificant but really just add up...a year ago on my birthday, we went to get pedicures. I decided I was going to take my girls, and I invited her. She had asked what she could get me for my birthday, and I said you could just pay for my pedicure, and she was like ok that's easy. Then when it came time to pay she, let me go ahead and pay my whole bill without interjecting that she was paying for one extra pedicure, and I noticed she had cash in her hand that only covered herself. Ok, that's fine if you don't have the money, but acknowledge or say something about it. I refuse to believe she just forgot. When it comes to money she doesn't just forget. Period. Then she proceeded to hang out and be in the way of me caring for a baby and didn't get the hint I needed some alone time to nurse and rock. It was just too much. A few weeks later on her birthday, I got a text detailing what kind of cake she wanted and the gift she wanted as well. I kind of felt like wTf but I didn't say anything. I was incredibly sleep deprived and not at all in the best frame of mind to handle anything. I halfheartedly did what she asked, but with something store-bought not homemade and went home to take a nap. But it was around then that I started realizing how unbalanced this friendship had become. So I started pulling away a bit, not making as much of an effort and definitely not extending invitations for things. Plus, I really am lacking in free time and I want to fill it with things and people who bring me joy and reprieve, not more stress.
The early part of this year found me swamped with working on the house-purchase stuff. Every chance I had that the baby was napping I was typing/faxing/researching/emailing/following-up. When he was awake I was either engrossed in playing with him or doing something with the older kids. The noise level in my house is incredible, so phone calls aren't exactly possible. In my old house I would have to go sit outside to talk. So quick texts are the most I could handle. So I really kind of holed myself up trying to handle all of this stuff. In the middle of that I was dealing with some other outside stuff, and had also became pregnant again, and I was still nursing a baby that didn't yet sleep through the night. So now I was even more tired and physically sick as well. It was a super fun time. When it got closer to the move this friend sends me a text asking what she could do to help. Wow, perfect, I thought, and texted that I could use help packing. I got no response. When I saw her at a function, she asked how the move stuff was going and could she help with anything. I asked why she never got back to me after the text, that I could really use help packing. She doesn't really say anything about it. Not even a "no, I am not able to help you pack"...nothing. Whatever, I really didn't have time to deal with that, but I was so sick and exhausted and running on a tight clock. I was kind of hurt she said nothing about it. Why even ask what you can do to help then?? I know I hadn't been around much, but I have a really full plate...and she just has herself, and a regular 9-5 job. And literally, the biggest thing in her life is all the TV shows she watches...seriously, she will tell you that herself. She eats out or with her parents every.single.night.
Moving along, we get moved in and a week later have a graduation party for my oldest child (her goddaughter). I asked everyone in the immediate family/closest friends to help bring something since we just moved and I would never be able to get all of it done by myself. She told her just to let her know what I needed, so once I knew who was cooking what I came up with a platter and asked if she could get that. No problem she says. The first thing she makes sure to do when she gets to the party is tell me just how much said platter cost her. First of all, I had no idea it would be that pricey, second why didn't she say something when she found out the price if it was too much for her? Anyway, she made sure everyone at the party knew just how much the platter cost her. See what happens when the shoe is on the other foot??
About a month later my birthday was coming up. We usually do a cookout and get some expensive seafood, courtsey of my mom. But I didn't want my mom to have to do that on her own after doing a lot to help with the move, and I knew the only other person around that weekend was this friend. My husband had the day off unexpectedly so we decided to take a family day trip. I know this bummed her out and she kept calling to see if we changed plans. But I really just couldn't deal with her being around. My new home is my solace. I don't want added stress here. She put my card in the mail, and I made sure to text her as soon as I got it to let her know how much I appreciated it. (I had told her no gifts when she asked, 1) because of last year, and 2) because I didn't want to feel obligated to do something for her, as terrible as that sounds)
Her birthday was a few weeks later. She always usually takes off the entire week of her birthday and in years past we would hang out all week. But there were also years when I would clear my schedule and then she would have a lot of other plans and she would only fit me in for a couple hours in between other things. Well, this year I had a ton of stuff booked. I had a couple of months with a lapse of health insurance, and coupled with a situation where I had to change my kids' doctors (which is a whole separate post) my kids were all overdue for checkups. The new insurance had just just kicked in that month, so I had appointments for physicals/dentists/eye exams to get done before they go back to school, on top of my own prenatal appointments. I have literally had at least one appointment for someone scheduled every week since July 1. Then there was the budget factor. We were going on vacation a week later and I had tried to pay all my bills ahead of time. So I didn't have much extra cash for anything, and the next big grocery shopping trip I could do wasn't until vacation.
I didn't want her to think I was being a total shit, so I asked what her plans were. She listed each day of the week and what family member she was going out to dinner with each night. I asked why they weren't all going together, and she said because she wanted to go out every night and have someone treat her to dinner, so had to get each family member to pick a night to take her out...so her mom one night, her dad the next,ect ect. That is sort of exactly how she is in life. I texted back that I sure couldn't swing a dinner out, that the most I could probably do was a card. A few days before she asked if we could do lunch one of the days. Well...I would be feeding me and 4 kids, plus presumably her since it was her birthday. It costs like $50 for all 6 of us to eat at even someplace like Subway, and I didn't want to spend that kind of money on a lunch. We were living on pb&j until vacation, which she hates. And I didn't have much extra time in my days that week, when you take into account a 2-3 hour baby nap in between all the appointments. I didn't really want her here either, because it gets so disruptive with the yelling and fussing at my kids and dogs. It just isn't fun. So I told her we could meet at the pool one day for a couple hours instead, that I couldn't afford to take everyone to lunch a week before vacation. But then...we hit code red days of heat and humidity. Which I can't be out in, and the baby shouldn't be either. So I texted the night before that it was going to be way too hot for us to be out at the pool. Plus, by that point the pool temp was in the mid-80's so not even that would be refreshing. She didn't say anything back, not even an alternative. I texted her for her birthday and she said thank you, and when I realized I wouldn't see her put her card in the mail. She never even acknowledged she got it. I even wrote in it about how I know I haven't been able to be the same kind of friend and around all the time but that she still means a lot to me. And she does.
But it just feels like one of those things that needs to take a break. Our lives are very different, and maybe neither of us is very good at seeing the other side. I honestly can't imagine being our age and not having a family of my own, even if I just had a partner. She has her parents and sister, who is also single and childless. I guess that would be a lonely life. But I can't fill the gaps for her. Just like she can't fill in for me what I lack. My life is happy and full, and there isn't a place for people or things that don't contribute to that. So I will let things be for now, and see where the ebb and flow takes us.