motherhood, the most rewarding loneliness

Recently a fellow SMC and adoptive mother posed this question to her Facebook followers: have you lost or gained friendships since becoming a mother?

I read the responses of mothers raving about the mommy friends they have and the way they keep each other sane with quite a bit of sadness. Since the arrival of my first foster child I have essentially lost or become very distanced from my close friends. A lot of it was a lack of effort on my part at the time (lack of sleep and such with a new baby), and a lack of availability on my part as well. Maybe they began to find me boring or unrelatable… After all, I couldn’t join them at restaurants or bars later in the evening or night, I couldn’t crash on their couches between work shifts, I couldn’t go to concerts or cafes, I couldn’t attend karate trainings or special events. I know that the axis of my world completely shifted, while theirs continued steadily in the same direction. It’s understandable, but oh how it breaks my heart, and how I miss, truly and deeply, their company and who I was with them. The fun we had. The lack of loneliness when we were together.

Many moms experience this with their childless friends… They go on to form new and awesome friendships with fellow moms. They join together and become a supportive community, kids aging together, moms sipping coffee and commiserating and supporting. I have tried embarrassingly hard to find such a friend or tribe of friends for myself. From music class and playgroup moms, to neighbors and fellow preschool moms, we may have a play date once… And then nothing. All future offers to hang out are turned down. No one is available anymore. I tried to relate to the organic co op moms, the fellow single mom on the playground (who uninvited my daughter from her daughter’s birthday party because… I’m not sure, but she doesn’t want to hang out now), co-workers with kids. Nothing. Maybe a play date or two, then they all become suddenly unavailable. After one or two offers or invites or “hey how about getting together sometime?”s I take the hint and stop asking. I’m not a stalker, or a pest. Maybe they’ve all found their communities so there’s really just no place for me there… Maybe my support of unschooling weirds them out. Maybe I’m too single, not traditional enough, too gay, not gay enough, my daughter is too rough when she plays, or wrecks too many other girls’ neatly arranged art projects, or the other little boys don’t like playing with the girl who wants to play so with them so badly. Maybe I live too far away from anyone to make spontaneous get togethers possible.

I can’t figure out what it is, really. Maybe it’s just something about me others can’t connect with. I just know that if it takes a village, I don’t have one. I have my mom, and my daughter. I have work related socializing with adults while at work. I beg my sister frequently to let us come to her house just to hang out (she doesn’t ask me to and doesn’t come to mine). And that’s… it. There are days I tell myself it’s fine, I’m fine. There are days I’m so desperate for socializing with other adults I’ll chat happily with bored cashiers. Most of the time I just feel isolated, and alone. I find books or shows to fill in the void. I pray that someday I’ll feel better about being a solitary creature. I hope that my people are out there somewhere, and dream of the day I can escape this place and find out.

Being a mom to my amazing girl has been the absolute best and most rewarding thing that’s ever happened in my life… But here is the darker side of it. Who knows if I’d have more community in a childless life… But I wouldn’t trade my experience as a mother for anything.

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8 Comments »

  1. Once we moved away from my family, which was actually quite a relief for me, I found myself in a similar situation. We were always too this for that family, to that for another, or I’d find myself tolerating moms I didn’t really connect with bc their kids and mine got along OK, and then I’d end up dodging them bc of whatever upsetting discipline or generally judgemental commentary that I had no interest in engaging over.

    That all changed after we moved from that area, so I like to think you’ll either find your people on your travels, or traveling to see those you already know as your people will be refreshing enough to get you thru to the next phase of your lives.

  2. I have very few close friends. Well, none really, but I enjoy the relationships I have at work quite a bit. There’s no one but me and Dayne to look after our son and his disabilities sometime make it feel very lonely indeed.

    I’ve read your blog for a long time now and always wished we were friends but you’ve never seemed to really like me much (or rather, wanted to get to know me or connect with me) so I’ve tried not to be annoying by constantly commenting or offering much advice. Just trying to say that you are very likeable and your little girl is too. Friendships will unfold as you go along and things will be different as she gets older, I think. πŸ™‚

    You’re a great mom and you’re allowed to feel lonely sometimes. I’m around if you ever feel like writing or something. I know it’s not the same but…still. I’m around.

    • Oh wow! I’m sorry that I seemed to not want to be your friend! I think I tried to add your blog to my bloglovin feed once and it didn’t work and then I forgot 😦 So I haven’t even been keeping up, but I will do so again! I just realized you have a photograph blog as well… do you do instagram too? Do you live in the Midwest?

      • Oh no! Don’t feel bad! This is blogland, I know, I most certainly didn’t take it personally in any way. :). It’s hard to know people here when you only ever see one particular side of them. It doesn’t matter if you follow my blog or not … Will still follow yours.

        I just really relate to that loneliness you wrote of in this post and how confusing it can be because you wouldn’t want your life with your little girl to be any different while you miss the ease of maintaining friendships before a little someone took your heart and time away. My motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I cherish every moment but life is sure different than it was. Xx

  3. I’m your friend. πŸ™‚ But the distance really makes it hard and honestly sometimes it makes it feel lonelier because we can’t just have spontaneous playdates or play dates at all without significant travel.

    If I didn’t have Sarah and crew, I would have no one. So if they’re busy without us, that is felt acutely and I think to myself, “I really need more friends.”

    • Yep, it’s awesome you have them for the daily type stuff… dinners together, play dates, just hanging out. That’s the stuff I miss. Get-togethers with my friends are always this big planned event, never a relaxed and daily familiarity.

  4. My best friend in all the land is childless and lives in Australia. I live in the middle of 50 acres in the middle of nowhere on a windy ass highway. So yeah, I can relate. I met one mom at story time at the library, we sat in back and made sarcastic comments about how terrible our daughters were at socialization. That’s it really. I never made friends at work, or exercise class, at least not ones I’m hanging out with with my kid, and I don’t go anywhere else. I am so jealous of those tv shows where they pop into each other’s house for a quick coffee, or to watch the kids while I run my unexpected errand. No one to have a glass of wine with at the end of the week. Certainly no BBQ invites over the summer. It’s lonelier than I expected. But, having G as my sidekick is amazing. We do everything together, and that’s pretty awesome for me.

  5. I’m right there with you. It feels like everyone already has their social circle and community and there’s no room for me. I have one local mom friend, and I used to work for her. I wish we were closer and we could hang out. Wallace can handle car rides now, especially if I line them up with naps. We could try a meet in the middle thing? I know it wouldn’t work for a regular get together but it could be good!

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