Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Goodbye strangers, goodbye friends?

Lately for short periods I've thought about what my funeral would be like.
There would probably be a picture montage set to U2 because, let's face it, Iron Maiden or Metallica would probably not be appropriate. Besides, I'd be dead, so I'd have no say in what music was picked. And U2 does open the movie I'm making about the twins, so they'd probably deem it a safe choice and move on.
I suppose there would be flowers, maybe me in an open casket, if I'm not too gashed up from my fall off a peak, dressed in fleece and my ice axe by my side.
The thing I can't picture is just how many people would show.
But I think the pews are getting emptier.
Even before we had the kids, I wasn't one to have a lot of friends, and quite frankly I liked it that way. I liked having free nights, even on the weekends, to myself. I love time alone. The time I spend with people, while fun, drains me of the pieces of energy I have left after burning it running or working or living.
In the eight months since we added twins to Jayden, however, the few friendships I enjoyed have been difficult to maintain, and lately I've worried about their erosion, to the point where I wonder at times if I have any friends left at all.
I've had to leave poker games as they're just starting to pick up, turn down invitations to movies and forgo inviting others to watch a Kansas basketball game with me. In the past I'd probably gather a few friends to watch the Orange Bowl. Last Thursday I watched it alone, and silently, because the kids were all asleep.
I've constructed a pretty thick cocoon around myself as a parent of a toddler and twins.
We used to have a group of friends Kate and I hung with every few weeks, where we'd gather and drink and play games (NO, not spin the bottle or the car keys in a fishbowl). Once we even ran around different neighborhoods on a scavenger hunt, like eighth graders. It was fun. We took a five-day mountain climbing trip with a couple in that group and went out to dinner several times a season with another.
Now we haven't seen any of them in months.
It's just easier that way.
It's so much work to go out these days. It's not like we can just call a babysitter. "Hi, can you take care of two eight-month-old infants and a toddler with more endurance than an Ironman athlete? OK, see you at 7!" And taking the kids anywhere, even to dinner with friends, means shoving more things into a backpack that I used to bring climbing 14ers, clipping in two babies in their carriers and belting in Jayden and praying to God they don't throw a fit in the restaurant.
We're trapped in our own house, and though it's not prison because the girls are now super cute and getting big (videos to come I promise) and Jayden is speaking more words every day, those refreshing times with friends are fading fast. Even when we're out, sometimes it's too hard to have the singleton parents to make plans for some trip/night out and act disgusted when we say we can't go. One friend of Kate's constantly asks her why she can't go out to dinner with them every week, and Kate says "that leaves Dan at home with the three kids." I do give Kate a girls' night out once a month, and even then, her friend just asks her why Kate can't go out with them more as they take their calm, single child out in a stroller and to swim lessons and lunches in a high chair.
They don't get it, Kate says many times, and no one really does.
People, however, get tired of asking if you can make it to a movie and eventually just assume you can't. That's where we are now, and I'm beginning to question what, if anything, I want to do about it.
As I said, I'm perfectly happy playing online poker and chatting with virtual friends made and strengthened in Las Vegas and hitting up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and reading and watching movies. Now that my free time has been cut in half, at least, with caretaking, those activities are more important to me than ever.
Yet I do fall into depression at times, and I think it's because no matter how much of an introvert you are, and no matter how renewing time alone is, human contact with others you care about is important.
Kate and I realized how nice it was to have a few hours alone, without the kids, when Dad and his family watched all three of them during our trip to Kansas recently. So we made it a point, then and there, to try to have at least a couple hours together once every couple of weeks.
We're trying to watch our own relationship, and then we'll work on rebuilding the ones we enjoyed with others. But finding the time to do that continues to be challenging.
Kate asked her brother this weekend if he could watch the kids for a couple hours. We're not sure yet. We're starting to get the idea that he may be busy.


lightning36 said...

Do you have any friends in the same situation -- where you could watch their kids for a night while they hit the town or have a glorious night alone? And then you could switch roles and get a nice night off? I tried to encourage my wife to set these trades up when the kids were young. It seems to me that having six kids for a night is worth getting a night alone.

Once the kids get a little older, you'll be like a bear coming out of hibernation. I know it is tough in the short run, though. Good luck!

Brooker Douglas said...

your funeral? what the fuck?

NumbBono said...

I hear you on this one. We have a 15 month old, who demands all of our attention. It's tough, because we get home from work, already worn down, and there he is, demanding attention from us.

But you know what, it's worth it. The time spent with your children is time you can't ever replace or change. Take advantage of it, and teach your children the things that you know you should. You've only got one chance to do this, so do it right.

Take the hours off if you have the chance, but realize that your duty right now is to raise your children, and embrace that duty with the realization that this is now your purpose.

Krissy said...

I always appreciate your posts, not because I am an avid poker fan (I'm not, although I am pretty good at hold 'em), but because reading what you write helps me to understand my husband better. Our twins are almost 8 months old, and my husband is a very stressed out and tired attorney. It absolutely boggles my mind that he preferred choice of activity on a Friday night is to stay up until 4am playing poker. I was totally confussed by this for the longest time, until I read your posts about needing to let off steam, and being renewed by engaging games. Thanks for being a guy that WRITES what he feels...helps me understand my hubby when he is too tired to talk!

We do trade off nights/mornings off...he usually gets 2 nights out to my one, but it works, and we are happy with it. We do have a lot of family nearby, and we don't have a toddler, but it is still hard to nuture our relationship. Good reminder to work harder on that one!