When I first had Miles, I encountered the strongest feelings of happiness and love that I’d ever known. I felt like, here he is, my little companion in life. Within a month we had bonded tightly and even though I was in the throes of depression and angst from my struggle with breastfeeding, I still had a full heart. My life however, felt empty. The friends and people at work that I had come to rely on for socialization had all but disappeared from my life (some circumstantially and some by choice). Kofi and my family remained steadfast and my rock to cling to when the feeling of loneliness took over. It was the knowledge that everyone else in my circle had something else to do during the day and couldn’t just take a day off or even an hour away from work to entertain me that made me feel stranded. Of course I could go out with Miles and walk or shop or what have you, but it was still just this little non-verbal being and me. No real conversations or mature dialogue. You just can’t get that with an infant.
By the time Kofi got home at night, all I wanted to do was talk. Talk about ANYTHING. Sometimes I got what I needed from our conversations, sometimes I didn’t. Through no fault of his own, Kofi just couldn’t always be what was missing in my life. A girlfriend. Someone to talk silly fashion talk to. Someone that could really understand what I was feeling. I needed some estrogen in my life and there was none in sight! After a while things started to change and I was able to connect with some women that were new mothers and even further down the road, made some female friends that were not mothers. It took me what seems like forever to regain my life to a certain degree and to create a new social circle for myself. I have a few good female friends that are relatively local. I’ve started singing in a community choir and I’ve been able to revisit some hobbies that have always brought me happiness.
There is a fear that the new baby (due in 4 weeks) will again lead me into a dark cave of solitude, but hopefully if it does, I’ll be able to lead myself out fairly quickly. I know that I’m going to be exhausted and stressed out. I know that breastfeeding will consume my time again, not to mention trying to keep up with a 2 1/2-year-old at the same time. I know that it will be very easy to slip back into bad habits and forget the simple joys in life, like taking time for myself. But still, if I did it once I’m hopeful that I can do it again.
It’s come to my attention recently that stay at home mothers are not the only ones that suffer from feelings of isolation. A dear girlfriend of mine that is single has felt at times that because the majority of her close female friends are married with kids, she has been put on the back burner by the people she cares the most about. She feels that their families come first and she comes second, third or not at all. While she admits that of course family should come first, it doesn’t make her feel any less left out. We married parents sometimes feel like people should just deal with it if we cancel plans because little Timmy needs extra help with homework or someone at home has the sniffles. We take it for granted that a hip single gal will find something way more interesting to do with her time than hang out with the old boring couple anyway. Not always true and no matter what the circumstance, we all still have hurt feelings when plans are dropped without warning.
Yes, I decided to stay home and raise my kids for a multitude of reasons. I still find myself looking forward to the day when I can get back to work. I’m still the independent hard-working sassy pants I always was. Kids haven’t changed that in me. She decided to focus on a career and has worked hard to get where she is. Still, she finds herself looking forward to the day that she meets her settle down man and starts her own family. Being a hard-working sassy pants hasn’t changed that in her. In order to avoid the isolation from setting in, we need to recognize that we are all the same on a basic level and our need for contact with our sisters is real. What ever it is that we spend our days doing, we function better as woman when we can connect with each other when we need it the most.