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You Can Be a Good Mom, Wife or Friend, But Not All Three

Photograph by Twenty20

“Don’t look at your phone, Mommy,” my 2-year-old complains. But group-texting is how I keep up with my girlfriends, whom I rarely see in person.

“I miss your home cooking,” laments my husband. But ever since we had a second kid, I’ve been way too busy to get gourmet on weeknights.

“When can we have lunch?” asks my college roommate. But her school-aged kids are older, while my little ones still have me enslaved to naps and early pick-ups.

At this stage I my life, it feels like I am always letting someone down. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to give all the members of my inner circle the attention they deserve—never mind extended family and other special people in my life (who probably aren't feeling very special right now.)

It’s not a question of learning to say no. I'm pretty comfortable passing up lesser obligations, such as PTA meeting attendance or a last minute bake sale. But being there for my kids, husband and close friends are all very important to me. So why does it seem like they’re mutually exclusive?

I often wonder, will these ignored friendships wilt like unwatered plants, or will they survive the drought?

Like a lot of moms, I tend to prioritize my kids, and sometimes let other relationships suffer. My husband and I are good about noticing this. If we’re feeling disconnected from each other, we’ll make dates, even if it’s just to watch some HGTV in bed together before passing out. Living together has many benefits.

It’s much harder to keep up with my friends. They demand less of me, so I give less. And that’s sad, because I really miss them. I miss the fun. I miss the gossip and giggles, the caring and sharing. The uncomplicated joy of just being together, without cutting up anyone’s food or negotiating the bedtime routine. Yet in the haze of raising small kids, I can go months without seeing some of my favorite people.

I would have made a terrible 1950s housewife, because I don’t know how to iron or sew and I’m really into equal rights, but I do envy the simplicity of their social lives. Those mamas had best friends who lived right on the cul-de-sac and they saw them every day, swapping casserole recipes over coffee while the kids played outside.

Nowadays, my crew will spend months trying to agree on a date for girls’ night out, only to have it canceled by a late-working husband or child’s fever and postponed indefinitely. And the truth is, sometimes the idea of putting on makeup and a cute outfit and driving to meet friends when I could be having one of my aforementioned HGTV dates with my husband in pajamas is not that appealing.

So months go by.

I often wonder, will these ignored friendships wilt like unwatered plants, or will they survive the drought? I don't want to find out the hard way. I need to start making more time to see friends. Because while a lot of busy moms crave "me time," what I am really missing is "we time."

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