Figuring out my own social life

Posted: - Modified: | connecting, parenting

It's much easier to hang out with other parents and their kids than with child-free friends. Parents are used to pausing and resuming conversations as we follow our kids' interests. They know scheduling is super-flexible and it might take three times longer to walk a short distance than Google Maps estimates. The actions and recent developments of our kids give us many things to talk about. It's great to be able to share snacks and baby wipes, and to watch out for each other. They usually have memberships to the same sort of kid-friendly places A- and I like: reasonably quiet, with lots of things to explore.

But my friends are my friends because I like who they are as people. I learn from their lives, and I appreciate that people like them exist. I don't want to move out of their orbits permanently, or even wait until A- is old enough for me to leave her for an afternoon or an evening. They're also grown-ups who can make the most of the moments when A- pulls me away. A- generally takes one nap these days, and I can usually get away without napping along with her. She doesn't have a particular schedule. If we have company, I might be able to get her to sleep in the carrier.

The ideal situation is when child-free friends are also good friends with parent friends. Then we can all hang out, and despite divided attention and fragmented conversations, we can usually manage to talk about interesting things.

Home is the best place. A- is comfortable. We've got space to spread out and let her do things on her own whenever she wants to. I'm a little intimidated by the thought of hosting with food, since it's still a bit hard to get groceries or cook with A-. But maybe I can find a few forgiving, freezable recipes that I can make ahead (zucchini muffins!), and I can ask people to bring things they might enjoy. Afternoons are best because A- is awake and we can keep our evening routines smooth. Most people aren't available during the week, though, so maybe I can see about setting up a Sunday afternoon thing once a month.

I'm still looking for places in Toronto and Manila that can serve as a good base for grown-up socializing. During good weather, the parks in Toronto are great for picnics and walks, so maybe I should see if there are parks/playgrounds like that in Manila too. (And what time to go, considering the heat.) She's a bit too small to play independently in public playplaces like those occasionally found in fast food restaurants. Big, uncrowded spaces work better for us, so she can explore while I remain close by. The Mind Museum in Manila and the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto are among our favourites.

Meals are another possibility: restaurants with high chairs, food that A- likes, and my own grab-bag of crayons, paper, and other things for kid entertainment. I prefer to not have her confined to a chair for a long time – and she usually clambers out of it quickly anyway – so that's more for 30-minute charts. I'm mostly distracted by feeding her and keeping things from spilling, though, so I'm not much of a conversationalist.

Hmm. That gives me a few things to experiment with:

  • I can continue seeing Jen and E- weekly, since we've got a good rhythm for field trips. I can invite Eric whenever it makes sense, since he's a mutual friend who has a flexible schedule.
  • I can work on setting up a similar rhythm with Joy and J-, maybe on Tuesdays, or introduce them to Jen and E- for more fun.
  • I can see if flexible, low-expectation planning works for having people over on Sunday afternoon. It can always be a supermarket rotisserie chicken dinner thing, I can ask people to bring stuff, or we can have stuff delivered.
  • When W- wants more focus time, I can plan to see friends at a park, restaurant, or something like that. This might be good for getting back in touch with both parent and non-parent friends.

Hmm. Reviving my social life also ties in with helping A- get to know and interact with more people. I think it would be a good use of my opportunity fund. I like the things I've been learning from friends' lives. Since people generally don't write as much as I do, it's good to talk to people more regularly. The limiting factor is probably me more than other people or A-, so if I rejig my thoughts (yes, people can bring stuff, I can pay for delivery, people can be flexible, and I can trust that I'll hold up my end of the conversation), that might open up more possibilities. Let's give it a try.

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