Maternity leave, in winter in Northwestern Ontario, can be a bit isolating. Oh, I know, it’s hard for everyone to get out of the house and do stuff in the early days, but I sit here with extreme cold warnings popping up from my weather app, I watch the snow pile up in the driveway, and I rue the fact that we aren’t in a big city with a mall or an aquarium or some other kind of climate controlled meeting place where it’s acceptable to bring a screaming kid (because my kid is, currently, a screamer).
I know it gets easier when January passes and the worst of the frigid cold is over, but it has me thinking about social relationships for now. We’ve slowly been shifting into a different social circle — by virtue of having a three year old, we’re seeing more of fellow parents at things like birthday parties and skating, and a lot of our younger friends are moving away or have already done so. But still, we know a lot of people but don’t do a lot of social things. I’d like to change that, a bit — I am an introvert and always will be, but sometimes I think I tend to decline invitations and act like a hermit a bit too much.
And, as parents of two kids, it’s obvious that our own relationship requires a conscious effort to be more than bleary-eyed ships passing in the night. That counts as a relationship I want to nurture, too.
To put it out there in list form:
- Bring back Friday Night Meatballs or something similar — originally instituted due to a lonely maternity leave, we are well overdue to get this going again, but we need to have the bathroom in shape first.
- Accept invitations. More of them, even if I feel tired or gross or not social. I usually have fun when I get there no matter how socially awkward I feel before I go.
- Extend invitations. It works both ways.
- Turn the “we should get together sometime” talk into concrete plans. Take initiative, again, even if I feel socially awkward about it.
- Turn consciously toward connection — a friend shared something that indicated successful couples make a point of consciously connecting with their spouses, when a partner presents them with something (“hey, I read this cool thing” or “guess what happened at work today?”). I am all too often in multitasking-tired land and only have half an ear out.
- Respond with love. I know we are in the early days, the survival time of the first three months, and lack of sleep gets me grumpy. It’s something I need to work on.
- Those last two goals count for the kids, too.
The overall goal, really, is just to expand and connect and keep building that social circle. Living in a place where we don’t have those family or childhood connections, we really do have to work to create that sense of found family, but it’s worth the effort when it works.