In late middle age, I’ve come to a realization: Playdates are not just for children.
From the day my daughter was born, I lived my life according to her needs: Up by 7:00, race to daycare/school, get a few hours of work in or grab a coffee with the other moms, back for pick-up in the afternoon, then on to after school activities/shopping/meal prep. Day after day after day.
It was predictable. And comfortable. And it all changed four years ago: She went off to college – and I lost my moorings.
This is not one of those posts where I’m complaining about my suddenly empty nest. I’m proud of the fact that I raised a young adult who is taking care of herself, and we’ve found a nice balance. My husband and I find plenty to do together on weekends. We’re all good.
But I have had to figure out some new personal weekday rhythms.
With no reason to get up early, I often sleep in. Since I work at home, I don’t need to leave the house — so there are weeks when I go Monday through Friday without stepping outside to do more than get the mail or take out the trash. I have been known to do my grocery shopping online… because I can. If it weren’t for Facebook and Twitter and email, there are days when I’d have no interactions with the outside world at all.
I don’t have to be a scientist to understand that this isn’t healthy.
By “Playdates” I Mean “Meeting for Coffee.” Or Cocktails.
So I now start each week combing my contacts and reaching out to local friends who might be amenable to meeting me for lunch or coffee or cocktails or dinner IRL.
And it occurs to me that this is a skill I developed 20 years ago, when I was anxious to set up playdates for my only child, so she wouldn’t grow up lonely and anti-social.
Only this time, the playdates are for ME. And they are absolutely necessary.
I’ve talked about this with a few of these friends, who are amused by the playdate analogy.
“But you and your husband are always going out and doing interesting things,” they tell me. They know this because I post the photos to Instagram and Facebook. But those activities take place on the weekend… and besides, we all know that we curate our social media feeds so that we only share the interesting stuff. If I posted what my life is really like, it would look something like this:
I could go on, but you get the picture. The highlight of the day comes at the end, when I realize my cat didn’t leave me any hairballs to clean.
My “playdates” on social media may look like just a picture of a coffee cup or martini glass, but they have given me laughter… connection… and sanity. And so I’m off to schedule a few more.