Thursday, November 1, 2012

Living in Isolation

When I told John, Spirit FM's station manager that I was pregnant back in January of 2011 he was excited for me and then he asked if I was going to be a stay-at-home mom or come back to work. I have never pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom and I really love my job, so the immediate answer was "I'll be back." 

Then Liam came into the world and I had three-and-a-half months off! Woo hoo! Vacation! Can you say Worst Vacation Ever??? I was so miserable. So lonely. But I was feeling so icky that even though I was lonely, I didn't have any desire to get out of the house and see people. What a mess of emotions I was! 

To say I was happy to get back to work was an understatement. It was liberating. I felt like myself again. I've thought about whether or not I'm cut out to stay home. To base that decision on those first few months isn't fair. I was hormonal, a bit depressed, overwhelmed at times... But even now, when I think about life at home, I shudder. And this might make me a horrible mom, but at the end of my work day, I'm not dying to get home to see my son. When I do see him, I am filled with joy and gratitude, but when I'm on my way home, thinking about sitting around with him and just "playing" for three hours until my husband gets home, I am filled with dread. 

Am I not cut out to be a mom because I don't want to hang out with my baby as much as possible? 

Then I came across this article a couple of days ago and had a total light bulb moment. This is me! Blogger Jennifer Fulwiler noticed that her neighborhood is a ghost town during the day and wondered if maybe that has something to do with why more women don't stay home. Sure, the primary reason for most people is financial, but beyond that, could it be that no one wants that feeling of isolation that they experience between the hours of 8am and 5pm? 

Long gone are the days where a whole neighborhood block of moms would walk out their front doors and chat in the yard while toddlers play. I go outside around 3pm and look left, then right and see no one. So I turn around and go back inside. Sigh. I guess it's just you and me kid! Yes, there is the option of joining a mom's group or making regular plans with friends, but it's not that easy to pack up and head out of the house. 

I love my son. I love being with him. But I am not the mom in the Playskool commercial who is fulfilled by watching baby knock over a tower of blocks over and over and over again. As Jennifer says in summary, I think this is a case where simply identifying the problem can help, even if there isn't a way to fix it in the short-term. A lot of moms feel unnecessarily guilty that they've felt restless since they left the workforce, and haven't been able to get comfortable staying at home. I think it would help women simply to consider that the problem is not a defect on their part, but simply the psychological challenges that are a natural result of living your life amidst rows of empty houses.

Have you experienced this feeling? How did you deal with it?

7 comments:

  1. Abby- I was so excited when I heard about the mom squad blog. I thought, how wonderful- a blog for Catholic moms that will get the publicity of the radio station and will build us all up in our vocation as mothers. I have to admit I have not found what I was looking for. Your tagline says "sharing encouragement and ideas" but posts like this doing nothing of the sort.

    As Catholics, we are called to live differently than the world proclaims (as is so obvious in light of the upcoming election when so much has been said concerning the future of our religious freedoms). We know the value of taking up our crosses every day and following Christ. We are taught that suffering is redemptive and an opportunity to share in Christ's sacrifice.

    Of course, stay-at-home moms experience loneliness and isolation at times. I imagine working moms do too. Of course, parenting is not all fun and not always fulfilling in worldly ways. It is not supposed to be. It is supposed to be about loving our families and serving them and giving of ourselves. That is not easy, nor is it fun all the time. It is difficult but that is why we do not look at marriage and parenting as just another thing to do, but rather a vocation that leads us to holiness. I hope that you will come to appreciate the gift and the challenge of parenting. As mothers, we get the chance every day to rise above our own desires and struggles so that we can put our children first and so that we can grow closer to God. And in the process we can lead our children closer to God also.

    It is like one of the songs you play says, "What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?"

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    1. Thank you for your comments. I appreciate them very much and I agree with much of what you said. I understand that the trials of motherhood are an opportunity to grow in holiness, BUT that doesn't mean that we have to ignore that the trials exist.

      The reason for this blog is for us to share the joys and struggles that raising children bring. If I only post about how great it is and leave out any frustrations I'm having or just gloss over them saying, "Boy, was Liam helping me grow closer to God today!", I think I'd be missing an opportunity.

      Encouragement, in my opinion, doesn't just come in the form of a pat on the back, a "You can do it" or a "God is with you." I am MORE encouraged when I hear that other women went through what I'm going through and survived! That is why I shared Jennifer Fulwiler's writings, because she made me realize that A) I'm not the only one who feels what I'm feeling and B) it's not that I don't want to be with Liam, but rather that I desire a community and feel that absence when I am home with him. And truthfully, as she predicted, just identifying the issue has made me feel better. It was my prayer that sharing it would do the same for other moms. I will admit that I took a negative approach. I think it was just the frame of mind I was in while writing and it might have just sounded like I was whining. Not my intent.

      I think too many women feel like there is this bar that we have to reach less we are failures as moms. We don't admit to each other that our houses are dirty or our kids ate fast food last night (again!). And sometimes when we finally do... we are blamed for not feeling the right emotion, which if I'm being honest, is how you've made me feel.

      I am confident (and grateful) that motherhood has helped me grow in holiness. Through late night feedings, a bout with colic, a scare during the pregnancy, squirming on the changing table, and just plain worry about Liam's future, God and I have become much more intimately acquainted.

      I know I have a lot to learn and again I am grateful for your comments. Next time I am feeling a little frustrated or down, I will remember them and say a prayer for us both - Future saints!

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  2. This post has made me realize just how blessed I have truly been since my kids were born. When my older children were babies, I was a SAHM and I had plenty of other moms I could hang out with, go to lunch with, and schedule play dates with. There was always something to do. When moved to a new neighborhood, I made new friends with the other SAHMs on my street. Again, there was always something to do and lots of people for me to talk to at any time and lots of kids who would come over to our house to swim and play all day.

    We now have a new baby and I get to stay home with him every day. And the best (?) part of it is I also get to work from home. I get the benefit of having outside employment with the joy of being home to see all of our little guy's firsts. I'm also there when our older kids get home from school. I'm available to help with homework and anything else they need. I do have someone who comes in to help me with the baby part time in the morning so I also get to have interactions with another adult. If not, then my day would be filled with work responsibilities and the Imagination Movers. :)

    I would not trade my situation for anything in the world. Thank you for opening my eyes to all the blessings I have been taking for granted for the last 10 years!

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    1. Hey Melanie! Congratulations on the new baby. Thanks for chiming in.

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  3. You are a great mom who is a better mom because you spend time away from your son. Some of us are just not cut out to be SAHMs and realizing that is wonderful. Your time at work helps you be refreshed when you see Liam and that makes the time you spend with him even better. Yes, we feel guilty we aren't "raising" our kids, but that is why God put all these other people in our lives. How lucky is Liam to have so many people who love him and want to help him become an amazing man.

    We should embrace our working mom status and not let the guilt take away from the time we spend with the kids. It is quality, not quantity.

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  4. Abby, you are brave for sharing this challenge. Thankfully, every person is different, in wonderful ways. I also NEED the community of the workplace. I am not myself if I don't get some good, adult socialization. Stay at home... not for me. I would be a different Heidi. That doesn't mean that we don't appreciate the gift and challenge of parenting (rubbed me the wrong way). I am encouraged when I learn of the trials and difficulties of other moms and I appreciate your honesty. Your listener (and friend), Heidi

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