It’s early in the morning. My husband has left for work and the kids are still sleeping. I sit down with a cup of coffee in front of my computer in my quiet, still kitchen to try and steal a moment to myself.
I scan my inbox, quickly deleting junk mail and silently reminding myself to pay bills later.
Then I see it. An old friend has emailed me a funny picture of us from when we were much younger.
“How are you?? Remember this day? So much fun!” She says.
I stare at the smiling faces looking back at me. We’re laughing about something—relaxed and happy. We were connected then. An unbreakable bond of friendship.
Now, we only talk every few months, mainly because emails like this often get forgotten by me. I feel guilt wash over me as I look at the date on the email. Sent two weeks ago. Like many emails I get, I read them while I’m on the go—thinking to myself, “I’ll respond as soon as I get home.” And then life takes over.
As parents of young kids, it feels like there’s a constant conveyor belt of things that have to get done. If we’re not getting children changed, dressed or fed, we’re getting ourselves ready for work, running errands, taking kids to appointments, activities, birthday parties. Even in the summer, when we try to keep things as unscheduled as possible, there are always things that I have (and want) to do. Quality family time, making dinner, bathing children, reading stories, asking about their day.
Then there’s the exhaustion at the end of the day. The baby is teething, so we’re not sleeping. Or there’s another ear infection. There’s the non-stop juggling of time. Time with the kids. With our partners. With our extended families. All of this on top of the task of shaping young lives. Raising little girls to be women and boys to be men—a full-time job on its own.
Before long, it’s not just unanswered emails I’m bad at. When I do manage to carve out time to see friends, it has to be on my schedule. “Can you come to my place after the kids are asleep?” “Can we go somewhere close to me so I can still help get the kids to bed?”