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.


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  1. You will, you will, you will.
    And yes, you need her.

  2. I have so been there! I lived in Boston’s Back Bay for nine years, building my consulting practice (after working for 2 large financial services firms) and having a ball. I didn’t marry early — too busy being the corporate queen. At age 36 I married and my husband promptly said we should move and start a family. Having “done it all”, I agreed. We moved to the burbs and I got pregnant immediately (it’s in the water). I’ll never forget those first couple of years. Walking that stroller over hill and dale, never seeing a soul. Lucikly, I had already given up my company to become a solo practitioner, collaborating on projects with others of like mind. SO I did have my work to keep my going, with a nanny from 8-3 (even though I worked from home). I couldn’t relate to the young mothers and the women my age (40) were working or living a different world. I was sent a delightful new neighbor who was a stay-at-home mom to see me through, but it took time. I also didn’t have the internet in the way people do now. I’m rambling, but all I can say is take the time to meet someone — anyone — to get you into a book group or a cooking group or something, until your children are in pre-school and you can start meeting other moms of like mind. I’ve had seriously professional women call me, crying their eyes out, wailing “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?”. My answer, “because no one would ever have children.” Befriend anyone and everyone — my lifeline ended up being a vital and oh-so-interesting 94-year-old retired architect that used to walk by our house twice a day. He befriended me, we walked together, and were best friends until he died at 101! Good things come in unsuspecting packages. I know you’ll be fine. And it’s ok to cry.

  3. Have you thought about an Isis class? Some towns do new mom groups too. Location is key for playdates!

    • You know, I did an Isis class for Little Bug. They seem sort of focused on first-time moms. And though I loved it then, not sure I could pull it off now (not to mention that it isn’t close…) I’m not, after all, a “new” mom. Am I whining enough? That being said, I am trying to find playgroups, etc. But also not motivated to expose a four-week old in this weather. Spring cannot come soon enough! 🙂

  4. it will happen! do you knit? can you join a knitting group in the evening? Its so hard. I got lucky: I met a work friend who was pregnant and had a baby two weeks before me. You’ll find people. Can you take the train into the city and find a friend to have lunch with? Good luck. we’ve all been there. And oy, lots of crying the first 3 months, even if you have the best friends in the world right next door. its exhausting.

  5. I couldn’t hit comment fast enough to type the exact words Lindsey wrote. You will.

    Try to be patient. Life feels still right now but I sense it won’t stay that way for long. And the answers you are looking for will probably come – as ever – from this stillness and unrest.

    In the meantime…throw those kids in their car seats and come visit!

  6. I’m right there with you. There is a strange limbo feeling when you are home on maternity leave and you know you will be going back full-time. Now that I am at the maternity leave halfway point, my motto with regard to finding new mom friends in the neighborhood is kind of “why bother?” because once I return to work I can’t imagine having any time for things other than work/baby.

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