When I became a mother, just like that, I surrendered any and all
solitude and privacy I'd previously enjoyed. The quiet had been my muse, my
companion, my center. Even the loneliness in that solitude was somehow
comforting and familiar. If I learned anything as an introverted only child, it
was how to be alone, still and with my thoughts. I can keep myself entertained and
happy for quite some time without help from anyone else. If I only leave the
house once a week, I don't get restless. I am content.
So for me to be lonely,
well, that's saying something.
Of course, I love being home with my children. I am so sad
when we are apart, so I try to be with them as much as I can. I know full well
the day will come, too soon, when they realize it's not cool to snuggle on the
couch with Mom, and poof. Those days will be gone. There will be a last time
they ask me to hold them. There will be a last butterfly kiss. I do so enjoy
their company, but it turns out that I need more.
Somehow, singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," saying "Don't
touch that!" seven kazillion times and answering the question "Why?" all day
doesn't quite fulfill my need (as minimal as it may be) for mental stimulation
I long for the closeness I felt in childhood friendships—friendships long
gone and so foreign now. And after watching those bonds fray and finally break,
I hesitate to pursue new ones. I'm afraid to need friendship, but it doesn't
change the fact that I do.
I need people who build me up so that I can turn around and build my family up. I need people who will invest in me so that I have something to give.
The thing is, I can't burden my family with my need for
friends. I cannot expect their presence in my life to negate my very real need
for community, grown-up conversation and connection with the outside world. I
certainly can't expect my children to be my shoulders to cry on or my comforters.
No, my little people bring so much goodness and purpose into my life, but I
need other people also. I need people who build me up so that I can turn around and
build my family up. I need people who will invest in me so that I have
something to give.
Suddenly, I was crying about it to my husband. With actual
tears rolling down my cheeks last week, I realized how far I'd pushed myself, how much I was expecting of myself while I was running on fumes. If I, the
happy hermit, feel like this, I wonder about you.
You Pinterest-perfect mamas with the from-scratch birthday
cupcakes. You working mamas who somehow have the energy to make dinner when you
get home. You mamas posting pictures of your night out with the girls … you don't
look lonely to me, but maybe you are? I probably don't look lonely to you, but
Maybe you don't post about the days you're depressed
and angry and feeling inadequate. Maybe your social media persona is far more
chipper than you actually feel. Well, if you relate at all to this, I can tell
you you're not the only one.
I'm tempted to close this out with some advice about making connections, but what I really want you to hear is that, whatever you feel, I'm here with you, and we will be OK. These overwhelming days will come and go. You're allowed to love what you have while also
having needs. It's OK to listen to them. We are not alone.