Today a friend complimented me on the fact that I set limits when it comes to outside obligations. The event in question was a backyard camping party hosted by friends who live in the country. Sounded like fun, E was game, and I think all who have been invited will attend. Except us.
Tonight, we will be camped out on our couch, for family movie night, complete with wine (for J and me), apple juice (for E), and popcorn for all. Over the past two weeks, both J and I have gone out of town, separately. It's been hectic and exhausting, and what our family really needs at this moment is to cuddle up on the couch together and just be.
Would it be fun to sleep under the stars with a bunch of our friends and their kids? Yes. Would it make for some great memories? Most likely. But what won't make for great memories is the inevitable moment when the stress and the exhaustion and the worry and the lack of time together catch up with us. Maybe family movie night isn't as exciting as backyard camping, but if the price of those memories is a tense, angry day because we've all pushed too hard, for too long, then not only are those memories not worth it, but they won't even be the happy memories I'd like them to be, because we'll all remember what came after.
I say yes to these kinds of events far more often than I say no, but just as I need time alone to recharge and reconnect with who I am apart from E's mom and J's wife, just as J and I need time alone together to just be a couple, instead of E's parents, our family needs time together to recharge and reconnect, as a family. I've realized that turning down an invitation doesn't have to be about saying no. I'm not saying no to backyard camping, I'm not saying no the hosts, I'm not saying no to our other friends who will be there. Instead, I'm saying yes to my family.
Over the past few months in particular, we've been making much more of an effort to get out and do things that we enjoy, such as museum visits. I feel compelled to make the most of our time, to really live life, but I've also realized that part of living life, and making memories, are those quiet moments when you are all together, cuddled under a blanket, sharing a bowl of popcorn. Those moments when you say yes to your family, leaving the rest of the world to its own devices, while you retreat, safe and secure, into yours.
Do you struggle with the ability to set limits on outside obligations? What are your criteria for turning down an invitation to a social event that your family would otherwise enjoy? Any good recommendations for movie night with a 3 year old boy?