I found this link in my facebook feed last night. I had actually been thinking of writing something somewhat similar (though likely not as eloquent) for a couple weeks now. The article made me cry. Is that dumb? I was never much of a crier before I had kids. Really, I kind of prided myself on my stoicism. But goodness gracious, after the birth of my daughter, some stupid hormones must have invaded my body or something, and the importance of the things that really matter in life became greatly magnified instead. It was though my world came into focus and every other distraction I previously used to fill my time with faded to the background. I became acutely aware how miraculous life is.
It’s sometimes hard for me to say these things, as I definitely remember back when I didn’t have kids – and especially in the years we desired children but were unsuccessful in our attempts – how obnoxious it felt to hear people talk like this. I am NOT saying that one’s life is somehow incomplete without children; I am saying that it wasn’t until I had children that *I* discovered what I felt to be true importance. Everyone has their own path in life and will discover their own focus on their own time and based on their own experiences.
But motherhood has of course changed me. So the article resonated with me. A lot. While I have been working from home for the past 5 school years and have long since adapted to being alone during the day, I admit that I’m still lonely. I don’t love being lonely, but I guess I’ve just gotten used to it. I have virtual co-workers through work, I frequent a couple of online message boards, I keep up-to-date on facebook with old college friends who also have kids now. So you know, I have mom “friends”. Online. Which is as good as I can get, I guess.
Working from home does allow me to see my kids more…but it isn’t all rosy either. Being a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) is tough. Yeah, you get the best of both worlds (you get to accomplish something through a job and bring in money and you get to see your kids during the day), but you also have the worst of both worlds (you’re always distracted by job duties, and you don’t have time to go do cool stay-at-home-mom things like playgroups). It is what it is and I’m not complaining, BUT I admit that for the past couple years, I’ve secretly harnessed the desire to be a real SAHM. It just seemed so much easier, and happier, and free-er, than trying to juggle both work and kids.
Well, for the past couple weeks, I’ve had my wish. But I don’t really know if it’s what I thought it’d be.
KP landed a short-term (possibly long-term?) position as a copywriter at a trailer house and since I’m finishing up maternity leave and with the end of the school year anyway, I’m temporarily getting to play the role of SAHM. I’m not really sure what I think about it. I suppose it’d be different if I had a car. Probably a lot different. We downsized to one vehicle in late 2012, as KP and I were both working from home and it was cheaper that way. And for almost 1.5 yrs, the one car thing has totally worked just fine for us. But now that he’s gone all day and I have no transportation other than my two feet and a stroller, it has been a bit limiting.
Luckily I live within a mile of a grocery store, a pharmacy, several restaurants, a park and a mall. So really, I shouldn’t complain. But errands that might take someone with a car 20 min. take me 2 hrs+. And getting two young kids ready, packed up and out the door while timing naps and feeds and expecting them to be content in a stroller in the heat? It can be overwhelming to plan for. Not to mention that I can’t really go shopping because I only have a stroller basket to carry stuff home in. So yeah…I’ve mostly been staying home. Alone.
I did manage last week to get out to CPK (also within walking distance), the restaurant I was in when I started going into labor, and said hello to the server we’d had. We stopped at Barnes N Noble beforehand and while C played with the trains, I chatted with another mom there with her 2yr. old son. I remember thinking how pathetic it was how nice it felt to talk to someone. About nothing really, just polite conversation about our kids. Who knows if we shared any other commonalities or if we have opposing political or religious beliefs, or if we’d ever actually be friends. I didn’t even get her name. But who cares? She was a person, and I was a person, and it was nice to make a connection with another human being, if only for a short while.
For those of us in our mid-30s or younger, or those of us that were in the formidable teens/20s when “social media” began emerging as an influential part of modern life – I’ve noticed a change in the way people view and make friends. I think I read an article on it once, but it really made sense and stuck with me. Whereas people were once almost forced into being friends with whomever was around them, regardless of if they held different beliefs or opinions – people now are not only able to search around online to find people who share their exact same beliefs on any topic, but it’s also making them more close-minded to accept people who don’t share their exact same beliefs. I’m not sure if I made that make sense, but either way, it’s something that I’ve noticed…and another reason why I find it so difficult to make true friends in real life.
Look, I’ll be honest, I sometimes feel out of place in this city because, well, I tend to hold more conservative beliefs than my peers here. I don’t talk about my beliefs (unless someone were to ask and be genuinely interested in a civil discussion) and I’m certainty respectful of others’ differing beliefs. But it has been REALLY hard when I see people, that I know in real life, post things on facebook that not only state their opinions or beliefs (which is absolutely fine), but criticize or demean anyone who would take the other side. Someone who disagrees with another person is not automatically ignorant. Or a bigot. Or unfit to be a parent.
And so on top of being lonely and wishing I knew how to make friends with other moms (or other people in general), I’m also scared to attempt to make friends. What if someone starts to get to know me, but then they find out I don’t meet their “checklist” of acceptable opinions and beliefs? I wish I could say I thought someone would still be my friend in spite of our differences, but I don’t know if they would. Our modern world has made it too convenient for them to instead look elsewhere and try to find someone who better fit their perfect friend ideal.
So here it is, folks. I’m lonely. I’d love to reach out to other people, especially other moms of young kids, and I’m even willing to chance looking creepy by asking for a number or email address (which is extremely hard for my personality to do, by the way) in order to make a friend. But you have to know that I’m terrified (yes, even at 33!) that I’ll be rejected by you once you find out that I believe something different than you post on your facebook wall.
I’d still love to find good in-person friends, however, in the meantime, as the article that started this whole post suggested, I won’t let loneliness steal this precious season of life from me. But I do hope that someday, when this amazing and crazy time of young motherhood is over, that I do at least find close friends again then.