Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Loneliness

"We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness." Could not have said it better, Albert Schweitzer. Thanks, buddy.

Now, by all rights, this shouldn't even be a battle. I am never alone. I don't even pee alone. I am constantly surrounded by hands and needs and voices from early in the morning until the middle of the night when the "Mommys" start. You know the "Mommys", right? You are "Mom" all day long; that short address that is usually on the end of demands for cheese sticks and swing pushes. But then the sun sinks and the tougher requests start to tag onto the end of the Mommy title, usually issued in whine or cry mode. "Mommy, are there monsters in the closet?" "Mommy, you are never gonna die, right?" Mommy, can I sleep with you and Daddy?" Sometimes, Mommy is just shouted in the dead of night, in response to someone's nightmare, a magical word that banishes danger, soothes the speaker, and summons assistance all at once. I wish the actual mommy was as magical as her title, but I do what I can.

But back to being lonely. There is no reason for this but it still happens with frighteningly regularity. Not everyday, but sometimes, it just hits. And when it hits, it hits hard. I am lonely if we stay home. I am lonely if we go out. I am lonely even when Super Preschooler wants to talk my ear off about what would be the best plant to be when the zombies invade. I think it is just the lot of the stay-at-home mom to be lonely on occasion. But you know what, I don't think it is that. It is probably everyone's lot to be lonely on occasion.

I go to the park and I watch the other parents deal with the loneliness. I mean, I assume they are lonely too. If it is just me, don't tell me. I don't want to be weird one. Again. So, I watch the ones who stay on their phones the whole time. The ones who follow their kids around the whole time. The ones who just say forget it and pull out a book. The ones who never come to the park without an adult friend to talk to. The ones who might be sleeping on that bench over there, I can't quite tell. The ones who will talk to anyone who comes within 10 feet of them. The ones who stare off into the middle distance and think deep thoughts or maybe just plan their shopping lists. The ones that play on the park stuff themselves and you are not sure if they have kids there or not. The ones who eat the whole time, which might be me. The ones who sit there, desperately glancing around and mentally begging anyone to talk to them. Anyone. Anyone at all. Even that strange lady who is picking what looks like poison ivy over there by the bushes and talking to herself. Really, anyone at all. Someone please talk to me!!! Which is definitely me.

I love my children. I love the stories they tell me. I love when they need me. I love watching them not need me. I love teaching them stuff. I love talking to them. I really really do. But they are 5, 3, and 1, and not likely to want to discuss Mad Men or the situation in Syria or the new royal baby. Wait, I take that back; Super P. totally wants to talk about the royal baby. But my children are less likely to explore with me my complex feelings about motherhood and whether or not my failure as a stay-at-home mom is more related to my lack of interest in making my own soap or my general lack of culinary interest. It isn't their job to hold my hand and let me cry on the hard days, when I just want my mom to show up and tell me what to do. When I am tired of being the only grown-up around. When I just served Mac and Cheese for lunch for the 4th day in a row and am terrified that I am slowly poisoning my children with processed cheese powder.  When I can't hear myself think because of the requests for water or dress-up shoes or Netflix or cake or markers or legos or playdough or diapers or milk or a hug or endless attention or glue or freezie-pops or sibling reprimands or bandaids.

But it is so much worse when they don't want anything and the silence descends. And it is so noisy. "Why can't Super Toddler read yet?" "Super Preschooler is so small. He is totally malnourished." "What doesn't Super Baby talk about anything other than food?" "Why aren't we eating organic?" "You really should get that parenting book everyone is reading, but you won't." "Why are you such an awful mother?" "You are always losing your temper. Other moms don't lose their tempers like you do." "We have been in Ann Arbor 3 years and you are no closer to fitting in than you were in week 1, what is wrong with you?" "Is it just a matter of rebelling? Because that isn't doing your children any favors, now is it? Children of Awkward Mom. That sounds fun." "You shouldn't even be blogging about this, everyone is gonna think you are a big loser. Well, more of a big loser then."

AH! If I just had someone to talk to, this wouldn't be happening. Well, it would happen. But then I would say something, and the person would say, "That is crazy, you are fine. Want some ice cream?" "Why yes, friend, I would love some ice cream. Thanks!" "No problem, friend." That is what I am looking for; a that-is-crazy-you-are-fine friend. I suppose my problem is that I think I shouldn't need that. I am strong. I am grown. I am the mother of 3 children, and it is my job to be the that-is-crazy-you-are-fine person. Which I can do. I actually do it quite well. Maybe that is the problem. I do it. And do it. And heed the Mommys in the dead of the night. And do it again. And maybe, after all that pouring out of emotional ice cream, all that is left is the stickiness at the bottom of the bowl soul. The "you aren'ts" "you can'ts" "you will never bes." I am starting to think that my problem isn't that I am lonely. It is that I don't want to be alone with my own ice-cream-residue thoughts. Which is a whole different battle, right? The life-long kind. Sigh. I am gonna go get some actual ice cream and think about my battle strategy here. Talk to you guys later!

"No one ever discovers the depth of his own loneliness." Uh. Gee, thanks for that cheery thought, Georges Bernanos.

Don't feel too sorry for her. She has ice cream and is looking at this. 


  1. "That's crazy. You are just fine, Erin. July is national ice cream month, it would be a shame to let it end without celebrating. I think you should go celebrate your awesomeness and Reagan's best policy with a pint of Ben & Jerry, Ben & Jerry make for some good friends.