I recently realized how alone I feel as a new parent. I mentioned something like this on facebook and so many moms responded - they too have felt incredibly alone. A lot of the responses were about missing social interaction and feeling isolated from friends and relationships. I get that. I felt that way a lot for the first couple months, especially while I was home alone on maternity leave.
But now, for me, it's not about being lonely. I am around people all the time - at work, on the weekends, evenings at home with husband and child. I don't miss people for people's sake.
For me, right now, it's more of a feeling of being left alone - abandoned - to do the hardest thing in the history of the world (be a parent).
Of course I am not alone. I have a husband and partner in this parenting journey. Still, I often feel left alone.
I have family near and far who offer their help and support on a regular basis. Still, I often feel left alone.
I have dear friends and old friends and new friends - so many friends. So many people out there who have my back and support me. Still, I often feel left alone.
I was trying to put our just-about-4-months-old baby down for a nap on Monday afternoon - it was not happening. The things that had worked for us for months were now blowing up in my face. I tried to put him down for a nap the following morning - again, not happening. Again, my best efforts were making things worse.
I sat in our rocking chair with a kicking, bucking, twisting, screaming human in my lap, and I cried right back, "I don't like this either! I'm not thrilled with you right now either!" I stared into the abyss that is our nursery and just cried.
I felt abandoned, left to go it alone.
Where was my village? Where are the people who could show me how this is done? (Or rather, our village. Showing us how this is done. I need to be better at bringing my husband into this.)
Part of my brokenness is that I'm independent and stubborn. At my worst I don't accept direction well (to put it mildly). I often bristle when people offer me their help - or worse, advice - interpreting every offer as an implicit judgement of incompetence.
My best self - the self I try to be, the self I like to be - knows people are well-meaning. My best self knows people care and want to help. My best self knows there is a village of people just waiting to surround us.
My best self is also aware that I have done and still do a lot to isolate myself from that village. I isolate myself because I'm hesitant to open up. I'm hesitant to be honest. To be real.
The thing is, my real/honest/genuine self isn't always accepted or understood by others, even by the people who should be closest to me. I have been misunderstood, judged, accused, reprimanded. Sure, we all act in ways that aren't great sometimes and it's good to be made aware in constructive ways. But there are other times when I am just being me - genuinely trying to connect and engage - and I end up getting burned.
Sometimes it takes so much energy for me to interact with others - some days it is all I can do to just be around other people (not even to talk, just to flat out be there). I'm exhausted, and I have next to no energy most days for civilized social interaction.
I isolate myself, yes. But I also protect myself.
I think the culture surrounding moms is so maladaptive and pathological, with the emphasis on shaming and this is the only way to do this fear tactics, that I'm less and less inclined to reach out for fear of being shamed for who I am as a person and as a parent.
So while I cried in my baby's bedroom, asking the questions, "Where is everybody? Where is my village?" I was also acutely aware of how little I actually wanted everybody around...
What a catch-22, huh?
It's okay. I'm okay. My lego giraffes, we're all okay. It's just hard sometimes.