I’m sitting at the kitchen island, coffee in hand, trying to craft a thoughtfully grateful but firmly “no” text message response to a weekend dinner invitation sent by a close friend. The invite came through last night, but I put off responding until this morning because I hate the stress associated with declining invites. First I feel guilty about potentially disappointing people and then I worry that they’ll be upset with me. But honestly, I’m tired of overthinking and stressing about my decline. Because the truth is, I’m in my anti-social era (I mean we’re all on our personal Eras Tour right now, right?) and I’m kind of done feeling bad about it.
Now, to be fair, I am not sure others would classify any of my eras as overly social. I am more introverted by nature and enjoy the company of a very small circle in quick and sporadic bursts. But today, at 38 years old and with four young kids under 10, one might go as far as to label me as reclusive. And they are mostly right.
I think it’s mostly that I spent the last ten years either pregnant or carrying around a newborn, having a kid pretty much every two years. Basically, it’s been a decade since I’ve peed alone or had a quiet house. And of course, I chose this. I love it! But it’s most certainly impacted my social gas tank, and not in a good way.
There’s just a lot of overstimulation in my day-to-day life. My currently very long days of toddler chatter, pretend play, homework battles, activity attending, and taming tantrums all leave me yearning for a little solace when I get the chance. Even my husband ends up being unintentionally ignored as he attempts to make adult conversation with me post-bedtime, simply because my ability to converse and comprehend anything beyond my own basic needs feels virtually impossible at that hour. I simply don’t know how to muster dinner party conversation and somehow keep my four kids in check at your house without losing my mind. There is nothing about that scenario that feels relaxing.
And finally, my schedule. And this isn’t some #populargirl brag. In fact, it’s the opposite. My schedule is filled to the brim with all the un-fun things, things like practices, games, work, dental and doctor appointments, speech specialists, my own therapist, PTO responsibilities, and birthday parties. Between the calendar of events and the ever-evolving and differing needs of four kids, finding energy and availability for social events often feels like solving a Rubik’s cube while blindfolded. Do I squeeze in cocktails between butt wiping a 2-year-old and dropping off my second kid to football practice? There are just not enough hours in the day.
Not because I don’t like to spend time with people outside of my household. In fact, despite my introverted nature, there are people I very genuinely love getting together with. I value their conversation and company deeply. These are people who fill me with joy, energy, and support, who truly lift me up and help carry me through this life. But in this chapter of my story, even they can feel like too much.
Even my family — those I love and connect with most deeply — are being downgraded on my social calendar. Because in all the chaos, even a wonderful family dinner can feel like an addition to the pile that just might put me over the edge. And of course, I could show up and quietly reserve my energy in the background rather than putting on a personality show that depletes me of any existing energy. But that’s kind of just not me. If I’m going to show up, I want to show up in all of my social glory. And right now, that feels impossible.
So while I’m sorry that I don’t invite you over more, or accept your invitations to dinner, I’m kind of hoping to get a free pass. Because if you are my people, I hope you know that the closeness and importance of our relationship is not based on get togethers and gatherings but all the funny gifs I send you throughout the day. Instead, it is currently based on loyalty, understanding, short bursts of wonderful connection, and sporadically helpful or funny text messages. And someday, when the kids are more grown and I have caught my breath a bit, maybe I will get out from under all the chaos and find myself with some extra energy to give. And if you ever find yourself in your own anti-social era — I’ve got your back.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.