When you announce your pregnancy, everyone is excited. Everyone has a million things to tell you about parenting. People want to express their feelings on feeding your baby, how your baby will sleep, whether you should vaccinate or not and everything else you can imagine. People love to tell you how wonderful it is to hold your amazing, precious baby skin to skin. People love to tell you how beautiful the relationship between a child and a mother is.
All of these things are true. It is amazing to give birth. It is amazing to hold your baby. It is amazing to bring your baby home and turn your house into a home. There’s lots of awesome things that happen the second you become a parent.
But, no one prepares you for the lonely. How could they? If we all sat around talking about how isolation as a mother is completely debilitating, no one would ever reproduce.
I have a hard time committing to anything. I like options. I like an exit strategy. If there’s something I need to give myself fully to, I have to go big or go home. If I don’t, I”ll end up running in the other direction. Getting married and pregnant within three months is a perfect example. I was twenty-five years old when I took that positive pregnancy test.
TWENTY-FIVE. Literally, still a baby myself. I didn’t realize how much of the world I had yet to see. I didn’t realize how every single priority in my life would change. I had no idea that I would lose and gain friends over and over again.
It’s hard to be a mother when most of your friends aren’t. I totally get it. If I didn’t have kids, I would still be living in Chicago. I would still be doing theater, my first love. I would still think about my future and how I could leave my mark on the world.
Now, I realize raising my children to be decent and honest human beings is how I’m going to leave my mark. It’s going to be a very large mark if Maeve has anything to do with it. ( Love my little wild child.)
How can you possibly explain that to someone who’s not yet a mother? I used to sit in the dark, breastfeeding my kid, scrolling through my Facebook feed religiously. My baby would be farting on my leg, while I would see pictures of my friends out on the town doing shots of Jameson and dancing to Snoop Dog. My heart would turn green with envy. I wanted to be there with them. I wanted to experience life. I wanted to travel. I wanted to make mistakes. I wanted to hike. I wanted to cover my body in tattoos, reminding myself of my journey. I wanted to be able to sit outside in the sun while reading a book.
Instead, I was knee deep in poop, barf, and stretch marks. Sometimes, I would sit on my couch, tears rolling down my face, baby on my boob, just wishing I could go out. Wishing I could live the life I led before kids. As fast as those feelings would come, they would almost immediately be replaced with guilt. Over and over again.
I told myself to shut up and stop whining. I had a beautiful, healthy baby. I had a home. I had a car. I had no reason to feel sorry for myself.
Except, I had no one to tell this to. I couldn’t pick up the phone and call my person. I couldn’t call anyone. I got married young and started my family young. I made the choices I made, but leaving my independent life was the hardest.
You’re probably thinking, ” Join a mom group! Go to story time at the library! Go here, go there, just do it!”
Yeah…um… ok. I suffered for so long with the postpartum shit and when you’re going through that, the last thing you want to do is go to a freaking mom group. I didn’t want to sit in a circle, sing some songs, and compare myself to every perfect mom there. I wanted to sit here, in my house, feeling sorry for myself.
Even five years later, I still feel sorry for myself sometimes.
They say it takes a village. It does. Especially, when you’ve moved to a new state with no family or friends. That’s not to say that I haven’t made friends. I have. I have made amazing, wonderful, generous, kind friends. I’m SO grateful for that. Most of these friends have kids, so they get it. They understand that you have to leave at 7:30 pm, because you don’t fuck around with bedtime. That shit needs to be on schedule. They understand when you can’t make it out to lunch, because your baby pooped all over you.
I’ve had a few villages. Some of them turned out to suck. Some of them were awesome, but they weren’t the friends I grew up with.
They weren’t the people who knew about my first kiss, my parents divorce, my dreams of being an actress, my eating disorder, my love of the ocean and my hatred of camping. I missed those people. My people.
It gets better. I wouldn’t have believed that a few years ago, but it does. At some point, I took my lazy ass out. I went to playgroups. I went to family yoga. I forced myself to introduce myself and my kids to every mom I could make eye contact with. I came out of the darkness of lonely with a pretty awesome circle of friends. They’re funny, understanding, kind, generous, willing and honest.
That’s hard to come by. I hate saying this, because it’s so cliche, but I feel blessed.
There’s still an empty hole where my past life used to live. A life where staying up until 4 am doing karaoke was normal. A life with keggers and nachos. ( I did throw a kegger this past year. And yes, I did keg stands, because I’m THE COOLEST MOM EVER.) A life where things were so much more simple.
It’s a grieving process, letting all of that go. It also takes a significant amount of time, love and patience to keep those special people in your life.
I’m still grieving, but I’m hopeful. I used to think it was black and white. Friends with no kids, friends with kids.
Life with friends is so much better than a life without. I’ll take them anyway I can. My village is not the same, it’s not complete, but it’s made up of people who love and care about me… even if I show up with my shirt inside out and someones poop on my arm.
(Side note: I listened to this the entire time I wrote this blog. I have a flair for the dramatics…)
(Last side note: Don’t get it twisted, I’m definitely an NSYNC fan. FOREVER AND ALWAYS… but this song cracks me up and I felt it necessary to share.)