Through becoming a mom most of us learn quickly who our real friends are. Some of us find that we never really had friends at all and for the few and far between, we actually make friends. I am a stay at home mommy. Throw in a couple of big moves in my life and I sometimes feel like I am on an island in the middle of nowhere with two little people who are almost capable of holding a full conversation with me.
My days at home are consumed with running to the potty before we have an accident, finding goldfish in every nook and cranny of my home and asking “why is this wet?” every so often. There are times when there is lacking evidence that the real word or adulthood actually exist. I remember just last week I had to ask my family if there was a possibility of being able to watch something that was not animated. Oh the truth in that. Anything that is displayed on my TV screen is colorful and cartoonish. Instead of getting to watch the news or read a book I am challenged to make up stories or situations that Barbie and her friends find themselves in. My imagination and creativity are put to the test daily, sometimes hourly.
When I feel brave enough to take my toddlers out and about the cliche but teeth clenching truth is that getting the kids dressed and ready really does take longer than the actual errand I need to run. Packing up the diaper bag is a meticulous process and you have to make sure you are over-packed rather than under-packed or you aren’t doing it right. Maybe it’s unnecessary to have a first aid kit in my bag for a fifteen minute task but the day I don’t have it is the day one of my kids needs a band aid for some unthinkable injury. Often cramming all of our belongings and necessities together into a small bag makes me feel like I’m packing for a vacation. I wish. Unfortunately, getting ready is just the beginning. Going to the store with two toddlers is always a risk because you can’t plan for a tantrum or when someone is going to have a blow out in their diaper or has to go potty regardless of whether or not you made her go before you even left the house. One day my daughter needed to go potty while we were driving and I had to rush to get her to the quickest gas station and sprint inside to get her on the toilet. Less than 10 minutes after that stop we arrived at the store and she had to pee again and we had to book it across the entire facility to the opposite end of the store to get to the bathrooms. If your nerves ever need exercise, become a mom, you will see instant results. But in all seriousness, it’s hard. Even worse than the meltdowns your child can have is when you decide to give your three year old an ounce of freedom so they are allowed to walk instead of sit in the cart and THREE SECONDS LATER, poof. She’s gone. You start calling her name and then ask yourself do I get mad and start counting to three hoping that this method of parenting actually brings results today and she shows up at your feet by the time you get to the third number? Or do you panic and scream afraid that a stranger snatched her up when your eyes were removed from her whereabouts? Either way the judgments and glares from those around you become very evident. Let the mom-bashing begin.
When my friends without kids are gracious enough to invite us over, I usually decline. Sometimes I make up some sort of fib about the kids being sick or overly cranky or sometimes I am just honest and blunt with a “not today”. I have gotten asked why I can’t make it or have had those who get offended when I say decline the invitation but the truth is I am not trying to be rude. And I am not not hanging out with because you don’t have kids, if anything I am trying to be respectful of your non-baby-proofed home and probably very tidy and clean space. And a little selfishness comes into play too because I would rather have no adult interaction than just a taste of it. What I mean by this is have you ever been interrupted during your conversation to the point where you can’t even remember what you were talking about and so you try to start another topic but the same thing happens? That’s what it’s like being in the same room with adults and children. In those situations I feel my sanity and patience withering away. I don’t want to be the friend who always seems like I don’t have time for you but I also don’t want to become irritable and short tempered with you or my kids while attempting to make the effort. It’s not fair to you, or me or even my children.
Beyond this outer layer of loneliness is a core of truth about my isolation. And the truth is that loneliness in motherhood is often self inflicted. My home has become my safe place where tantrums and messes and accidents and spills can happen without being under a microscope or feeling embarrassed. It’s a place where snacks are available 24/7 and not full of triggers for a crying-fest when my toddler spots the candy aisle. It’s a shield where all of my emotions can flow without any hesitation. I am free to laugh or cry or even scream if that’s what I need. This isolation brings on feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction of what my life has become but that’s rare because mostly I feel contentment of getting the opportunity to watch my kids grow up every minute of every day and that I have a place to escape the dangers of this world. Motherhood is lonely, and that’s okay with me.