No One Ever Tells You About the Loneliness
In the Comfort of Strangers
In the Comfort of Strangers
There are a million books and websites on post-partum depression and the baby blues. You’re given pamphlets of signs to watch for before you leave the hospital with your newborn baby in hand. You read about it in magazine articles and hopefully, your doctor asks you about it at your six-week check up. What wasn’t discussed and what I wasn’t prepared for is how lonely I would feel, passing the hours, days and months with my new baby.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child I made so many promises to myself about all the things I wanted to do. I was going to take the pre-natal yoga class, Baby and Me classes, swim class, gym class, walk every day until that excess baby weight melted off, take baby sign language classes…I had all these grandiose plans, but then reality hit me like a ton of dirty diapers. Most of those things not only cost money, they take motivation. And these days, Shayden, my sweet baby boy has drained me of both.
With an active 14-month-old on my hands, I spend my days trying to figure out how I will entertain him (entertaining me is a notion of the past) on a shoestring budget. I’m thankful for Baby Storytime at the public library. After all, now that the rain has set in, it’s the one thing Shayden enjoys that’s not depleting my bank account. But how long before the librarians tire of the cute little boy who pulls all the books off the shelves?
Each day, I try to plan something fun and interesting for him. If he’s happy, I’m happy, or so the saying goes. I thought being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) would be great. I could write, I could go to the park everyday, go shopping… I wouldn’t have to drag myself to a job where I’m underpaid and underappreciated. Little did I realize that as a SAHM, not only would I still be underpaid and underappreciated, I’d also be incredibly lonely.
No one ever talks about the loneliness.
While on one hand I adore watching Shayden surprise me with his miraculous feats of development each and every day, I also find myself also struggling with the isolation being a new mom can bring.
I envisioned sharing playdates with my mommy friends spending the days drinking coffee taking pleasure in our child’s misdeeds. Actually, I don't even drink coffee, but what I didn’t take into consideration is that my son would be on a different nap schedule than every other baby in town thus preventing us from enjoying those playdates and coffee that I don't even like. Additionally, it seems that unless the planets, the sun and the moon are all in perfect alignment, Shayden’s nap schedule makes it difficult to attend almost any classes (why is that most baby activities seem to be scheduled between 9-11 in the morning, don’t other babies nap?). Invariably, this leaves me scrambling to find somewhere to take him (other than the mall please) where he can burn off some energy and work on his developing motor skills (like pushing the shopping cart through New Seasons market – as we did today to the amusement of the kind, patient and generous staff).
Sometimes I feel as though I’m stranded on a deserted island, cut off from the rest of world, longing everyday for the company of others. I avoid calling my friends for fear they will hear the neediness and desperation in my voice—I don’t want their pity or their sympathy. I skirt the issue with my husband, for although he tries his best, I know he can’t relate and doesn’t fully understand what I’m going through.
Lately, I find myself turning to complete strangers; looking to exchange just a few intelligible words with another adult (the women sitting next to me at lunch, the person in line behind me at the grocery store, the teller at the bank). Thankfully, somehow my baby draws the world in a little bit closer. His magnetism enables other to reach out and open the door to conversation. Where I once went about my business not paying much attention to those around me, in a hurry and trying to just get things done to get home and keep up with my busy schedule, now I take delight in the chatty cashier I once avoided. Who would have thought that people I didn’t know would provide me with the necessary nourishment my soul so desperately desired?
Shayden has opened my eyes. It is through him I’ve realized how interconnected we really all are. I don’t need to be able to have coffee with my favorite friend to feel less alone. All I have to do is go out and the world provides me with all sorts of companions. Granted, I may not be able to share my deepest secrets or all my hopes and dreams with the gentleman behind me in line, but I can connect with him in some way. So, in a beautiful way, I’ve come to realize that I’m never really alone. There are people all around me, wanting similar companionship, offering their support in small but very measurable ways.