So lonely*March 3, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in SAHM, Starbucks, the 'burbs, the firm | 7 Comments
*Disclaimer: Don’t worry — the title of this post is not meant to be dramatic so much as it is a nod to my once very deep obsession with The Police.
Yesterday I dropped Little Bug off at her new preschool and took Little O with me to Starbucks. We sat at a corner table (he fast asleep in his carseat). I drank my latte and played on my iPhone for a bit. My morning trip to Starbucks has become a new habit; my interactions with the baristas might be the only conversation I have until Tim gets home. I thought about this as I looked over at a group of women who had gathered around tables they had pushed together. They were slightly older than me, dressed in yoga clothes and carrying yoga mats; no doubt they had just arrived, en masse, from a Pilates class at the women’s-only gym next door. Of course, I sized them up (OK, judged): stay-at-home-moms with elementary-aged children. They had all the time in the world to meet at Starbucks and chit chat for an hour post-Pilates.
And I started to cry. Real tears, dripping down my cheeks, and so, embarrassed, I wheeled Little O out of there, tossing my half-drunk latte. You see, this past month hasn’t been easy. Yes, I’m hormonal. And tired. My two-year-old is driving me crazy. But I’m also lonely. We moved to this suburb in September. Little Buggy was home with her nanny, and I was working full-time. On weekends, we barely did anything other than hit Costco or the diner out near the highway. I know some of our neighbors enough to say hello, but we’re not friends, even though a few of them have toddlers and newborns as well. Since I had the baby, the weather has kept us from strolling around. And, anyway, where would I go to meet people? I haven’t really been part of this town’s gymboree/music class set because of my job. I truly know one person in town — a friend from work. But, guess what — she spends her days at work.
Being home alone all day with very small children is difficult. I get that now. When my daughter was born, my appreciation for my mother changed from love and admiration to something much deeper — I finally understood just how much she loved me. With the arrival of my second child, I now understand so much more about her life and the choices she made. Like me, she also moved from the city to the suburbs when I was just two, right before my sister was born. My father worked long hours in the city. His law firm allowed a car home after 10 p.m.; therefore, my mother explained, he was rarely home before 11 p.m. She had no babysitter, no housecleaner. She points out that, unlike me, she didn’t yet have her law degree. There was no job to return to. Her days and, it seemed to her, her life, stretched out long and lonely.
My mother recalls that things changed one day at the playground when she saw another young mother also dragging a two-year-old and strolling an infant. My mother and Ann were living parallel lives: children the same ages, husbands who worked long hours at their New York law firms, and elite educations (Smith and Columbia Teacher’s College; Wellesley and Columbia Journalism) they felt they had sacrificed (with very mixed feelings) for their families. They were immediate soulmates, and my early childhood was spent in the company of Ann and her two girls. My mom and Ann would drink endless cups of tea in the kitchen, no doubt complaining about their husbands’ late nights and asking each other: is this really what we were meant to do? The four children would fall off swingsets and put on plays and slam each other’s fingers in doors while my mom and Ann chatted on and on. When their family moved to Texas a few years later, there were lots of tears, and I realize now that my mother lost her first and most important lifeline. To this day, Ann is my mother’s oldest, dearest friend.
Raising children, whether you work in an office or are at home, is challenging: I know we all agree upon that almost cliched little chestnut. At work, my long days were nevertheless spent with several other attorneys (women, natch) who had toddlers or were pregnant and who thus asked the same questions and had the same challenges. They were my daily lifelines. But now I’m home, without my work and without these lifelines and I think I need some, or at least one. I need to find my Ann, and I hope I find her soon.