I want to see you, really I do. I've always prided myself on having time for my friends. I don't think I lost any when I met my partner, I didn't intend to lose any when I had a baby.
But, as Americans say, let's do the math. If you work regular hours you only have weekends, evenings or your annual leave and bank holidays to see me. I'll assume your annual leave is taken up with holidays and your bank holidays are taken up with ill advised trips to the seaside and picnics in the rain.
If of course you are free in the day, meet me near a step-free station for coffee. But please not before 11am or after 3pm as rush hour with a baby is not fun. And remember we need somewhere with a highchair and changing facilities.
You are of course welcome to pop by our house after work but please bear in mind that from 5pm until 6pm there's some form of food fight known as dinner followed by some sort of water fight known as bath. Then from 6pm-8pm depending on yawns, eye rubs and general malaise (and that's just me) is bedtime which might take five minutes and might take an hour but do feel free to come and watch Eastenders downstairs while we do that upstairs. We could then start making you some food about 8pm-ish which means we could eat at 8.45pm-ish but would you mind awfully leaving by 10pm please as we're knackered.
Which leaves weekends. There are 52 weekends in a year so 104 weekend days. Of these each set of parents want to see us at least once a month (24 days) as do other aunts, uncles, cousins and relatives. Let's conservatively say we do that one day a month (12 days). Now we are left with 68 days.
Let's take off some of those for the occasional holiday or weekend away - two weeks of holiday and two additional weekends away shall we say. That leaves 60 days.
On some of those we have household chores we need to do as a family. We might need to make furniture or paint a wall or sort out the garden. Like everyone we are great procrastinators. We put it off as long as we can but we still need a day perhaps every six weeks or so. Let's say eight a year. That leaves 52.
We're getting older and many of our friends are married now, and not many are onto their second marriages yet. Despite that we still have perhaps three weddings a year with maybe one of those necessitating an overnight stay so that's another four days leaving 48.
Then there are the significant grown-up birthdays, the anniversaries, the Bar Mitzvahs and christenings. Take off another five days. Still that leaves 43 days we could see you.
And the peril of having a baby, you meet lots of other people who do too. Add another ten days for first birthday parties that you could miss of course but who will come to the party of your little one if you do that. And then there were 33.
Take two off for illness. 31. Then a whole weekend for Christmas shopping, that's 29. You then need a special treat day to make up for a day being dragged around shops of course leaving 28 whole lovely days for seeing friends. Then there's father's day, mother's day, our wedding anniversary, my birthday celebration and that of my other half. 23 left.
There's usually a tube strike weekend and a snowed in weekend, then the three times a year I must get my hair tamed with an afternoon at the hairdresser. Bugger, 16 days left.
16 whole glorious days when we might see you. When we might come to your BBQ, have a picnic with you, go for a walk or cook you lunch. Presumably if we're that kind of friend we'll want to see each other more than once a year. So that's not 16 friends or couples we get to see, it's four lots of friends four times.
Of course it doesn't work like that. We do more than one thing a day. We squeeze in breakfasts and brunches and lunches and teas and dinner and drinks and parties with the baby in a travel cot in the other room. We have the occasional babysitter. We see more than one friend at once at parties and meals. And occasionally we go out, not with friends, not with family, but the two of us, as a couple.
None of which is a complaint. What a lovely lively busy life, what a wonderful problem it is to have so many friends. But please understand when we try to make arrangements, it's not you it's us, but we just don't have time to see you, not this year.