3+Me: I hate coordinating schedules

Coordinating schedules is one of my least favorite things to do in the world ever.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: “We should meet up sometime!” [months go by] “Oh hey! We should meet up sometime!” [more months] “I miss you! We should meet up sometime!”

And on it goes.

Accommodating all the pieces of stepmom life feels like a bit of a stretch sometimes.

Setting up hangout time had its challenges as a single person, but it’s substantially harder as a married stepmom. (I can’t even imagine how much more impossible it is for actual full-time-custody parents.)

A few weeks ago, we got an invitation for a get-together at our friends’ house. And I went through the motions I always do: Check the calendar, realize we have some pre-existing obligation (ours or the kiddos’), and respond with our regrets –

Wait! This time, I stared at the month of April, and squealed.

“WE CAN GO!!!!” I yelled to my husband, and immediately wrote our friend: “OH MY GOSH WE’RE FREE THAT NIGHT!!!!! MIRACLES!”

There was a lot of caps-lock going on in my brain at the moment.

It felt like a rare occurrence.

And it reminded me how much time I don’t spend with friends these days.

I used to be much better at setting aside time for my tribe of important humans. Sure, it was tricky, but I made the effort.

Now, I still make an effort, but I’m working with less usable material. There are fewer open dates on my little calendar —

Or at least it feels that way. Reality check: The majority of the time, we actually don’t have the kids at our house. Sometimes we only have them a single night out of the week.

Then why does it feel like making time to hang out with our adult friends is so hard? That it’s such a major accomplishment when I see more than a friend or two over the course of a month? That my entire week revolves around the few days we do have the kids over?

Because it isn’t just my literal Time-With-Kids calendar that I need to schedule around, though that might be the one I focus on the most.

There’s also the Time-Of-Worrying/Planning/Preparing/Overthinking-About-Kids, which I spend enough time on that it should have a penciled-in calendar (or maybe at least a half) all to itself.

But even those things didn’t explain what happened on a recent kidless weekend.

My husband and I had a full two days wide open. No kids, no immediate need to plan for or overthink about them. We could have loaded up on Time-With-Friends.

But we didn’t. We only ended up going to that get-together that I’d squealed about, and I met a friend for coffee the next morning.

That was it.

And that was all we wanted. It seemed dumb: We’d wasted so many perfectly useful socialization opportunities!

Or had we?

Because the Time-With-Kids and For-Kids calendars aren’t the only things we need to schedule around. The kids themselves aren’t the only ones I need to prioritize my time for.

There’s also my Time-With-Hubby, and even my Time-To-Myself (-and-cats) schedules. Those are more important than I usually give them credit for.

Because even though my partner-in-crime and I are together the days we have the kids, we’re not actually focused on each other as much as we’d like. And sometimes I want some time with just myself, because my brain needs that, too.

Even though we didn’t see anyone else much during that weekend — friends or kids — we did see each other (and the cats). And we needed that.

Just a few years ago, I only had one schedule to contend with: My own. Now juggling a few more, the remaining Time-With-Friends schedule has shrunk considerably to accommodate. It’s no mystery that social time gets more strapped the older you get and the more responsibilities you have.

That’s just a life thing.

Fortunately, it’s something most of my friends understand.

And that, I guess, is what makes them good friends.

Originally published at HeraldNews.com on April 29, 2018.

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