Saturday, November 03, 2007

"They're different from my other friends, they don't start sentences with "You know who just died shoveling snow?" *

I am going to write another post that might – or might not, since it doesn’t involve animals - spawn vitriol and disgust. (And I am not picking on poor Miz S, I swear I’m not – her response was tame (and at least sincere and balanced) compared to some of the emails I got on that post, and now I will say no more, I promise.) This topic is especially worrisome to me after reading Alice’s funny and heartfelt post about making new friends, which left me feeling like my soul is a withered old crone, perhaps with a big wart on her nose.

People will think, God I can’t believe she even HAS any friends. Maybe you won’t be surprised, who knows. But here goes.

I asked Gina (who totally generated that BFF anxiety in ME when I first asked her out for coffee lo, these many eons ago) recently if it would be very awful to have “Leave me alone, I have enough friends” tattooed on my forehead. It’s not that I have thousands, or that I really think you can have too many. It’s not that I don’t meet people I am sure I want to hang out with, and who would make my life better, funnier, or just simpler. But I am feeling very stressed lately, and have not had nearly enough time to myself.

And what I want – what I NEED – to do, for example, on school mornings is drop the two older boys off and return home to plunk Terzo in front of Sesame Street for an hour while I drink a cup of tea, read the paper, catch up on blogs, get the laundry started, wake up a little bit…in other words, probably all those things that other people get up early, before their children, to do. And which I don’t, because I have never been a morning person and the fact that my offspring rise at the ass-crack of dawn has not changed my proclivities, if it has changed my actual actions. I may like you, you may be a perfectly nice person I will be sorry I didn’t get to know, but right now I don’t want to go walking with you, I don’t want to take the kids to the zoo, I don’t want to go to the park, I don’t want to do anything but what I said above. I don’t want to DO anything. I don’t want to SCHEDULE anything. I just want to BE for a few moments, catch my breath, and figure out how to get on with my day. I have a husband who works long hours, and three children who must be fed and clothed and kept healthy, and I have work to do (that actually pays money) even though I no longer go to an office. I have to do necessary things like go grocery shopping and clean and run errands, in between picking up and dropping off children at various schools, and I truly don’t understand why NO ONE ELSE seems to need to do these things. (I also seem to need a lot of time to myself, which may or may not be normal but that’s what it is. I enjoy my own company and don’t get nearly enough of it. )

You know what else? Friday evenings? I don’t want to go out at ten for drinks; by ten I would like to be in bed, asleep. I don’t want to sit in your living room and fondle dildoes with the rest of your friends at your Tupperware – er, excuse me, Passion Party; I don’t want to see a movie I know nothing and care even less about, or stroll the mall, or do much of anything other than have a drink or a restorative cup of tea, maybe watch a period or two of the hockey game with my husband, read some of my book, and go to bed early. If my neighbors are out on the porch, I might wander across the alley and have a glass of wine and a bit of a chat with them – this event does not require showering, make-up, or for that matter, shoes, and is a highlight of my social life. I am TIRED. I am LAZY. I don’t like feeling obliged. I am possibly the most antisocial person I know.

I don’t see enough of the friends I already have and love. E lives three minutes from me and I see her when we drop the kids off and pick the kids up at school. Gina lives three miles from me and I see her maybe once a month, if I am lucky and we are both healthy, awake, and in decent moods. And I don’t love her any less when she calls to cancel because she’s feeling yucky and it’s raining and we don’t feel like venturing outside, and she doesn’t love me any less when I call to cancel because I have had a rotten day and just want to go to bed with the comforter over my head. And THAT is the kind of friend I need. Not one who minds if I have to cancel, or doesn’t understand why I don’t want to pay for a babysitter to go do something I actually have no desire to do. I am very fortunate to have several dear friends like that; I also have some wonderful cyberfriends to whom I consider myself closer than people I might see even every day (and somehow I know these friends, if they lived near me, would be the friends I would want to see and who would understand when I needed to hibernate.)

I don’t want to join a mommy’s group, or discuss books with people who consider Maeve Binchy great literature (not that I haven’t read and/or enjoyed a Binchy title…), or schedule exercise everyday at the same time (for that matter, I prefer to run by myself, as my running is done as much for its mental as its physical benefits.) I don’t want to make elaborate plans that require planning like unto the invasion of Normandy.

I really should have been one of those hermits who lived atop a pillar or in a cave somewhere. I probably should not have gotten married and procreated four times. I probably will not be surprised when I am old and alone, with my sixteen cats and neighbors who don’t know or care if I am dead or alive. There are many people I love, and fewer people I actually enjoy spending time with; but mostly, I need way more time by myself than I get, and I am starting to mightily resent a lot of perfectly nice people demanding more of my time and attention.


* Richard (Tom Selleck), on "Friends," about Joey and Chandler


jenny said...

Are you an only child? I blame my anti-social tendencies on my only child status.

To me, it's totally normal to need a lot of time to yourself. I'm fiercely protective of my own time, shuffling the kids off to bed when they're not all that tired, turning down invitations to sit home and read or watch a movie.

Vitriol and disgust? For this? No way, not from me anyway.

David said...

the Mrs. went to the passion party. I stayed home and cleaned the kitchen.

this realm is definitely a quality not quantity thing.

still, its nice to see nice people occasionally.

Paula said...

You're singin' to the choir babe...

My kid has a t-shirt that says 'fuck you, I have enough friends'.

Jess said...

Only sympathy from this end, no vitriol. While I go through social periods, I'm usually quite happy to be by myself. I like doses of regular social interaction, but I have no problem with my alone time. I'm also a total homebody - if you want me to go to a party, or stay up late, or be mellow and have fun - for the love of God, come to MY house.

Hungry in LA said...

I never liked you either.


I have many days when I truly hate people and their needs. And now I hate blogger since it just ate my comment.

Hear hear! I support your resentment.

Katy said...

no vitriol from this corner. Enjoy your anti-social-ness. As a child, I would go to camp for 2 or 4 weeks, and then spend a week or two in my room, reading, door closed, alone, to recover. Some of us just need time to ourselves. It hasn't changed.

lazy cow said...

70% of the time I feel like you. Those are the days I'm head down at the school gate and kinder gate, when dropping off the kids. Actually, I'm 100% not into making friends with any kinder mums (cannot WAIT for the year to be over). The rest of the time, I'm VERY social. Happy to have a coffee with the interesting school mums (if it suits me), do the bookgroup thing with friends (because they've been my friends for years and I like them), meet up with new blog friends, even arrange big blogger meetups (this week, arghh scary!) etc. I find it extremely energising to meet new people, but that means I need a lot of quiet time to myself to recharge. Hence staying up till midnight most nights. I think most mums do understand, especially the ones with multiple kids. Don't be so hard on yourself.

Suse said...

I have a huge need for me-time.

No vitriol from me, babe.

KPB said...

No wonder we get on so well.

Sarah Louise said...

I like that you now put who said the quote at the end. I knew I knew that quote (I've only seen that episode gazillion times) but it was fun to have to wait til the end.

Hon, I understand. I work two nights a week. So on my nights off, I usually DO not want to be doing something with people. I could write a whole post on fact, since I have to write something every day this month, I just might. Heck, at least you'll come comment...


It's an introvert thing. I think we think that once we reach a certain age we know how to be friends, as if it's the same thing as learning how to walk, or ice skate. OH, this is becoming a post.

I agree with LC and Kim.

Oh, and I totally thought this was going to be about Fred.

Anonymous said...

I think I know exactly how you feel. My kids switched schools a few years ago, and I have done very little about meeting and getting to know the other parents at the new school. I would rather spend time alone at home with a good book.

blackbird said...

I don't find this unreasonable at all.
I have a terribly underscheduled life and, as far as friends go, I tell people that I am full up.
I'm at a stage, and have been for a few years, wherein I don't make new friends and my old friends understand my days.
So, the question is, how AM I going to get out of the cookie swap party I was invited to last night?

Badger said...

Dude. You're not the most antisocial person you know. I am the most antisocial person you know.

If anything happened with DH and me I would never remarry, because I don't want to live with anyone ever again.

When my kids are grown and out of the house, I will miss them terribly, but I will LOVE structuring my days around my OWN activities, if any.

I'm beginning to dread Girls' Night Out rather than look forward to it, even though I adore the other ladies involved, and even though we only do it like once or twice A YEAR.

My mom has taken to calling me every weekday morning about 20 minutes after I get home from dropping off the boy, which is RIGHT at the time when I usually fix my tea and spend a nice half-hour or so catching up on my favorite blogs, and even though I do love her and keep reminding myself how lucky I am that she's even still ALIVE, I resent this intrusion more than I can possibly express.

Not to mention, I hate cold tea.

So yeah.

Anonymous said...

After years of committees, clubs, and associations, I no longer belong to any. I have two friends I still see - they are from law school and we raised our kids and careers together. We are now down to 3 to 4 times a year. And the entire time I out at night, any night I have to go out, all I do is glance at my watch to see when I can go home.

I do miss having an art group, though, I like to bead or knit with someone.

Major Bedhead said...

Every week, I look forward to Friday night because I can go visit my friend C. I get to her house, I relax, I have a beer and maybe sneak a cigarette, and then a few other people show up and pretty soon, I feel like my skin is crawling and that I can't get away quickly enough.

So I say that I need more time with friends, but what I really need is more time to myself.

Yeah. I totally get it, especially that last paragraph. This is why I like the people in the computer. I can shut them off and walk away and no one ever gets offended.

nutmeg said...

You see? All the people who regularly read your blog - read where you're at so well 'cause most of us are experiencing this stuff, more or less, too (me included).

I crave my time alone - it's what helps me go forth during other times. I think I am somewhat at the 70% rule that Lazy Cow was talking about. This year I am (now "was") part of too many groups and in hindsight it caused me to have a mini meltdown! I don't answer the phone - I wait to see who it is and even if it is one of my nearest and dearest friends I may not answer it if I have just grabed the first bit of time alone in hours, days or weeks. Truly great and enduring friends will be there when I connect back with the world.

And your description of a perfect Friday night is the same as my own - just substitute football and/or cricket for the hockey.

I think you might want to join Lazy Cow and I at our slow motherhood club - it's the club when you're not having a club!

Unknown said...

This post is exactly how I have been feeling for quite some time. I have expressed that no I really don't want to bar hop (I'm 32 for Christ's sake) and that I prefer to go to an early dinner/movie and call it a night...and now that I am pregnant (for the first time) boy am I really getting the guilt card...I've heard more of "when you have the baby we will never see you so we have to hang out NOW" than ever before and personally I AM OVER IT! Thanks for speaking the truth!

Unknown said...

This post is exactly how I have been feeling for quite some time. I have expressed that no I really don't want to bar hop (I'm 32 for Christ's sake) and that I prefer to go to an early dinner/movie and call it a night...and now that I am pregnant (for the first time) boy am I really getting the guilt card...I've heard more of "when you have the baby we will never see you so we have to hang out NOW" than ever before and personally I AM OVER IT! Thanks for speaking the truth!

Anonymous said...

Oh now see? This is the beauty of the blog. You are so not alone in this! I think you should recharge by whatever means suits you best. Anything that's a drain (strolling the mall, for crying out loud, who has time or inclination for that, and what purpose does it serve?????) should be avoided, with no remorse or guilt! Recharge YOU so you can be the best YOU for those most important to YOU!!! Friendship is about quality, not quantity, anyway.

Caro said...

I just had my first girls only weekend in ten years.

That's how social I am. We are much alike.

I do, however enjoy fondling the occasional dildo.