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It’s OK to Lean Out – At Least for a Little While

The major winter holidays may be over, but somehow things don’t seem to be slowing down. Nearly every mom I know has been lamenting their packed family calendar, and it often feels like activities that would be individually enjoyable become much less so when they are crammed together back to back.

But what’s new for me this year is a sense of reluctance when each new invite arrives in my inbox, not because our family’s schedule already requires a spreadsheet to manage, but instead because I don’t want to go anywhere period. Call it reverse FOMO.

This is not my typical reaction, though I admittedly veer toward “homebody” on the social-butterfly spectrum. What’s changed is that our third – and I’m pretty sure last – child was born in July and as her half-year birthday approaches, I remain in full-blown, irrational, head-over-heels baby love affair mode. This little girl has me wrapped around her delicious little finger, and has been with me even more than my first two kids were, since her third-child status requires her to be super portable. (I don’t think she saw her crib in daylight for at least the first two months.)

It may be the special chemistry with this baby. It may be my postpartum and breastfeeding hormones. It may be the allure of spending a good chunk of the day in yoga pants. It’s probably all of the above. But the result is that right now, I would take staying at home to rock and sing my baby to sleep over any parents’ social, girls’ night out, even date night (sorry, Husband, I still adore you!).

At first I tried to keep these feelings hidden, as though once the newborn period was over I should suddenly be speed-dialing babysitters, dying to dive back into the social scene. When I did go out, I would go through the motions of pretending it “felt soooo good” to have a kid-free evening. But in reality, I couldn’t wait to go home and just be close to my baby, even once she was sleeping through the night and didn’t need me to feed or hold her.

Recently I realized this fake behavior is ridiculous. Just as moms should never be judged for returning to work, jetting off for a girls’ weekend, or carving out “me time” for themselves while someone else watches their children, I should own my feelings of intense desire for mom-and-baby time. Soon enough, my own needs and my daughter’s will start to shift, and what makes both of us feel happy and fulfilled will look different than it does in this moment.

So if I turn down your lunch invite or skip this month’s book club, just know that it’s not you, it’s me. I’ll be back in the swing of things eventually. For now, the heart wants what it wants.

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