No matter how you cut it, being a mom is hard and can be lonely. Whether working or staying at home (maybe even a bit of both!) it is hard. An equal amount of cons and pros for both, each with their rewards and difficulties.
Leading up to having our first child I worked in a doctor’s office. I was friendly with and enjoyed the socialization I had with my co-workers. We had in office parties every now and then, sometimes we would get together outside of work and grab a drink…I hadn’t really given the idea of being a stay-at-home parent much thought. When my husband and I discussed it, figured out the financial details to make it work…I hadn’t realized that losing the social aspect of being in a working environment would prove to be a bit detrimental to my mental well being.
I can remember the day in detail that I admitted this to myself. My first child, then around six months old, had just fallen asleep. I’m pretty sure this was after it took a while for me to probably get him to do so. I sat on our couch and looked around : nobody there. I sat still and listened. There was no sound. There was no hustle and bustle of my co-workers shuffling about, there were no delivery companies coming in and out, there was no voice coming over the intercom…there was NO ONE. I felt totally alone. I didn’t know a single person going through the same early stage of parenthood as us.
I did discover a wonderful mom’s group in our area that basically saved me. My son and I made new friends, friends we could talk and relate to. It was an awesome several years until those kids grew old enough to attend school and our mom’s group disbanded.
Now, after having my third son, it just about feels like I’m starting over again. Not so much with parenting, at least I feel like I have an idea what I’m doing, but with the isolation. I haven’t lost the craving for some good ol’ adult conversation. Highlights of my day can include school pickup, where I get to spend ten glorious minutes talking to a few of our friends. If I go out to lunch, chances are I’m wearing makeup. It’s kind of a big deal to be out. Last week I went to my favorite coffee shop and was stoked that the barista remembered my name – the little things! I have attempted another shot at a different mom’s group and even a class for my toddler, but haven’t “clicked” with anything yet.
I have to admit that technology has also been a constant saving grace over the last several years. I joined Facebook when I had my first born and now text a ton, have Instagram…as much as I think I am on those things too much, I also realize I need those things in my life to have pretty much any contact with the outside world. I know it plays a significant role in feeling like I know what’s happening outside our few house walls. I know I would feel more lonely if social media wasn’t a part of our lives.
I feel the isolation of being the only parent home a good part of the time, when all three kids naturally need something the same moment. One is hungry, one has a hurt foot, one needs help with homework…
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be where I am. I am glad I have chosen this path while the kids are young, a time that is fleeting. There will be a time to enter the workforce again in the future. More opportunities to get out and socialize will come. I realize I have an adorable little person to talk to. His vocabulary only consists of about three words right now, so unless we want to talk about dada, a dog or a ball our conversation is a bit limited.
May I suggest if you’re out at the park, at the local trampoline joint, gymnastics class, maybe sitting with your kids in the shallow entrance to a pool…if you see a mom sitting on her own, staring out in the distance…take a moment to move over and say hello. Ask about her day. Compliment her. Chances are your simple act of kindness could be the best part about her day and for that few minutes, less lonely.