how can you be lonely when you’re never alone?

There are times when I watch someone walking alone and I get jealous of them.

Sometimes, I wonder what it’s like to not have to ask permission to go somewhere.

Or what it’s like to not feel guilty for doing something for myself.

I often look at my kids and think I’m taking them for granted. That I see them all day, and when I wake up in the morning they’ll still be there.

Hanging off me. Asking me to watch them do something for the thousandth time. Mom. Mommy. Mama. Mom. Mommy. Mama. Mom!

There are times when I just want to go for a run. Just a simple run. But I can’t. Because I don’t have a triple jogger.

Sometimes I just want to pee without having to explain myself.

Since I’ve become a mom, some really awesome things have happened. So many things.

But also, since becoming a mom, I’ve lost a few things, too. Friends, for one.

I mean, what childless person wants to hang out with some chick and her kid?

It’s rare I get to go out, and when I do, I’m tired.

I don’t know how to function with a group of adults so much anymore, either. That’s a whole other story.

And since I’ve had kids, 4 1/2 years ago, I’ve never felt more alone.

Which is really funny, since I have three kids and am constantly surrounded by bodies.

Being a mom is a wonderful thing. I get to see the joys on my kids’ faces as they figure out how to do something for the first time. When Claire first figured out how to zip up her jacket? Priceless. When Luca figured out how to clip himself into his car seat? Awesome. How about when Mae learned to say “Sadie-Dog” and “Cau-Kitty” and “Cheese Stick”? Very helpful.

It’s just, sometimes, it hits me.

Most of my mom friends are working moms. Since I’ve never really been one, I can’t even begin to imagine the pangs of guilt that I’m sure are felt from time to time when dealing with daycare. And so when I make comments like, “Oh, I can’t wait for Matt to get home, the kids are annoying today,” I almost immediately feel guilty, because maybe I sound whiny for no good reason.

But on the flip side, those women who go to work every day get to socialize with adults. Maybe even go out to eat. And all the while they’re at work, their kids aren’t their immediate responsibilities. The day care, or the nanny, or the babysitter or the family member is. Primarily, that is. Parents are always still responsible of their kids regardless of work or not. But it’s not on the forefront.

Since Claire was born, I’ve feel that constant nag, that pull. That even when Matt’s at home, I feel 100% responsible. That I’m the only one capable of taking care of them. That the world will end if I’m not there.

I’ve slowly begun letting go. Just tonight I met a friend at the gym and then talked in the parking lot after for an hour and only felt slightly guilty for not coming right home. Matt didn’t care that I was late. He was glad I chatted with my friend. But it’s me, I, who makes such a fuss. I’m allowed to have a life aside from the kids, but I’m not.

Does that make sense?

I’m rambling.

But I guess that’s what happens when the majority of your day is spent with three kids under the age of five.

I really wouldn’t have it any other way, but sometimes I just feel so isolated. And I don’t think anyone can really understand that until they’re in this situation. I love my kids, I love my life, but sometimes even while I’m surrounded by a bunch of tiny bodies, I still feel so alone. And when that feeling comes, it hits me like a brick wall. It’s overwhelming. And there’s no amount of arts and crafts that can save me.

So when it happens, I take it in. I talk it out and I examine why I feel that way. I make changes and chug along.

Anyone who thinks being a mostly stay at home mom is easy is wrong. Simply put. No matter how you mother, it’s not easy.

It’s helpful that I have friends who are mothers of all different kinds. I like to hear how it’s difficult for them working 40 hours a week. Not in a “Yes! It’s hard for them, too!” kind of way. In a, “I get it, the grass really isn’t greener,” kind of way. No matter how you slice it, the guilt is always there. The feeling of inadequacy is always there. The thought that your neighbor is doing a better job as a mother, is always there. It’s just, always there.

Just like my kids.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on June 6, 2012, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Such a beautiful and honest post.

    But you know what? I know you can function in a group of adults. Remember when I had you putting together shower decorations with a group of women you barely knew? You were talking to them all like you’d known them forever.

    But I get the lonely. I remember that feeling when I was on maternity leave. Sometimes you need a break and it just doesn’t come, so the loneliness and despair gets worse. Of course I’m on the working side and, you’re right, it comes with it’s own brand of guilt too.

    Just remember I’m always on the other side of the g-chat/phone when you need it (as long as I’m not in some helacious meeting).

    You’re a strong woman and your kids have been blessed with an amazing, talented, smart and beautiful mother. Never forget that.

  2. I get it, dude. I feel lonely a lot too. And I despair that I’m never going to get to do anything creative (just for fun, not profit) ever again. But then I feel guilty because I love Harper, she’s such a joy and she’s genuinely good company, so I should be in ecstasy for every single minute of motherhood, right? RIGHT?!

    WRONG. Ha!

    I think I’ll find this easier as Harper gets older, not because SHE’LL be easier, but because I’LL be better at it. And I think you’ll find yourself increasingly less isolated as your kids get closer to school age. Packs of moms are notorious socializers!

  3. This post is spot-on. Now I am going to ramble in my comment. You know we were talking a few weeks ago over at my blog about my feeling guilty about leaving Silas for just a few hours and that I’d never left him overnight. You were reminding me that it’s not bad to have a break from your kids. Yeah, that was still full-time working mom Noel talking. Now that I’ve been staying at home for nearly three weeks, I sort of feel like I am going out of my mind. I look forward to walking a few feet down the sidewalk at 6 p.m. to visit my mom every day because at least it means getting out of the house for a bit. In a few weeks I am going to be gone nearly all day by myself, and where in the past that would have made me feel badly, I have to admit I’m majorly looking forward to it. I now feel like I could ask somebody to babysit Silas once a week from now to eternity without feeling badly. And when can I sign up for that overnight trip sans baby? I get it.

    As far as the friend thing, I think in a way it is something that happens to us because of kids, but it’s something I’ve struggled with both pre- and post-Silas. Most of the time I don’t care that I really have no friends who are nearby, but I go through phases where it really bums me out. I think you know/understand that I live in a sort of weird place, sort of like a closed community, and even though there are some other women with small children, I just don’t feel like we “click,” so I have to admit that I don’t make much of an effort with them. But then that is kind of like shooting myself in the foot because I wake up some days and feel extremely lonely.

    Thank God for internet friends!

  4. Sometimes the idea of being a stay-at-home anything seems really appealing to me. It seems like you’d have the time to keep a perfect house and to read all of the blogs and to eat all of your lunches with your equally-leisured stay-at-home friends. I somehow never factor children into my daydreams.

    It IS annoying as a childless person that I can never see my childed friends without their kids. I love their kids, of course, but when I’m with them, all we talk about is the kids. I have no idea what’s actually going on in these women’s lives. I actually thought they all just have horrible husbands who can’t be trusted to stay at home alone with the kids, but now I realize that maybe it’s actually more stressful to be without the kids, worrying, than to have to entertain me and the kids at the same time.

    And I can entirely see that the kids are worth it for you. If I get joy out of their goofy faces and questions and art projects, then you must feel it a hundred times more.

  5. I totally get where you’re coming from. My oldest (now 10) was 3 years and almost 4 months old when my third was born. I was a stay at home mom until the youngest was 2, and felt the same way. I lost friends, didn’t make new friends, felt like I couldn’t function around other adults (and HATED mommy groups).

    It changed me.

    When I went back to work, my husband took over the stay at home parent role, yet my feeling of being 100% responsible for the kids hasn’t gone away (almost 5 years later). I kind of micro manage the husband and feel that I need to know what they are doing at all times and that it is “acceptable”. The guilt has not lessened either. I feel if I am not working, than I NEED to be with them, eventhough I know that is not always necessary or healthy.

    I think you really seem to enjoy your time with your kids. Honestly, it all goes by so fast, and it is worth it to really be present in their lives as best you can. And by the looks on their adorable faces, it is making them happy kids.

    By keeping up with a good blog, teaching fitness classes, and running fast races, you are doing a great job. When I was at home, the overwhelmed feeling left me 100% focused on kid only activities.

  6. I think we all get it. At one (younger, less tired) point in my life I was a stay-at-home mother with 5 kids aged 5 and under. I had 3 in diapers and 5 car seats in my truck. A lady at Walmart saw me with the kids on the shopping cart (one in the seat, one on each side and one on the end “riding” and said, “I had to laugh, they reminded me of how people hang their 6 packs of soda over the carts.” Uh..thanks? Haha.

    There was simply no time to myself. I turned into Bedtime Nazi. I had a Zero Tolerance Policy for getting up after you’d been tucked in. BEDTIME IS NOW. After that, if I wasn’t exhausted, I would tidy up a bit and SIT DOWN. Maybe watch tv. Or draw. Or take a bath. Or pee by myself with the door closed.

    This time around, my other kids live 1300 miles away with their dad and I’m a stay-at-home mother to Abigail (who will be 3 in a few weeks). I am alone. Yes, I’m surrounded by Abigail all day every day and Matt (mine, not yours, haha) when he’s not working or on call, but because I no longer drive and everything here is so spread out and there are NO SIDEWALKS *grumble* Abigail and I are at home. All day. Every day. I can’t go anywhere to make friends. I don’t have anyone to call and say “Hey, come over, I’ll make pizza, we’ll watch a movie, or grill, bring me some beer.” I have no family down here.

    Abby and I talk all the time…but it’s not the same. I’m kind of jealous of Matt because he goes to work. He helps people. He gets to talk to other adults.

    I did just recently join an evening knitting group that meets once a week. One of the members lives near me and picks me up on the weeks I can go. And when we get there we knit….and THEY talk. I am now very aware of my degenerated social skills. Not that I was ever the outgoing socialite. Now I’m more hermit than debutante. I have a toddler, I have a man who loves me. I get to do things for me and watch tv or read a book…but I feel like an island.

  7. I once heard a great quote: “That which is most personal, is also most universal.” That means that those ways in which we all struggle and think that we are the only ones, are the same ways in which everybody struggles. Did I write that in a way that makes sense?

    You are such an awesome mom. I know from reading your all the posts you write about your kids and their full lives. Nobody is perfect. And the things you are feeling are very real, but they aren’t forever.

    I had very good friends who had three girls, about the same age spread as yours. They had some rough times in those early years. As you said, you “chug along.” You make sacrifices in one area, another mom makes sacrifices in another area. You both feel guilty. Believe me, all those working mothers feel “guilty” for not being at home as much as you are.

    I then watched as my friends’ lives got a little easier each year as their kids got older. Eventually, the older ones could help out more. Pretty soon, the older one could even “babysit” the younger ones. Slowly, life came back for that mother. And today, all those seeds of difficulty have blossomed into an amazing crop of blessing in her three beautiful daughters. Their oldest is now a sophomore in college. I can’t believe I saw her when she was about an hour old.

    Never feel guilty for whining. Never think you’re “wrong” for feeling alone. Keep sharing the hardships with the good times. All of that is part of belonging to this weird cyber community.

    Chug, chug, chug.

    • Thanks, Carpetbagger, for this comment. This is something I really focus on somedays. Like: This stage with the whining, the constant interruptions, the need to do so much for them — it doesn’t last forever. My older two are learning to clean up after themselves. They can entertain themselves while I tend to their baby brother. It really does change every year, and it gets easier. Of course, they will be teens someday, so we’ll see how that goes!

  8. Yes, it makes sense. And I think it is great that you can take it in and examine it and make changes. That is such a huge accomplishment!

  9. Oh, sweetie, I so understand this. Motherhood can be terribly isolating. When F was 9 months old, we moved to the suburbs. I was a WAHM then, and then I landed a full-time job and promptly got pregnant with K. After her birth, I lost my job. I found myself in the suburbs, with two little people who couldn’t really talk and were totally dependant on me. I credit social media (especially blogs and then Twitter) with saving my sanity.

    I also have pangs of guilt for wanting time to myself. I spend 45 hours away from my most precious things — my three babies — and it is hard for me to then occasionally hire a sitter so I can go out with Dan, or see a movie with my girlfriends, or even attend a school meeting or event. I feel bad for being *more* away from them.

    But that’s what I signed up for. It’s been harder since M has been born, and the financial part of it is just this side of in the black. I keep looking for part-time work to make the balance better, but I haven’t found it yet. So I just keep trucking on.

    The fact that we even care about this I think makes us good moms. great post!

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