This weekend I was watching a wonderful parenting video on TED titled Let's Talk Parenting Taboos: Rufus Griscom + Alisa Volkman.
One of the taboos discussed was that as moms we are not allowed to admit to the feelings of loneliness and isolation we experience in the first few years with young children. Other cultures offer family and community support, but many new moms in the U.S. today live far away from family and lose contact with their friends. It was such a relief to know that I was not the only mom struggling with this issue and that there were sources out there to help me.
When my oldest son was born, I was completely overwhelmed, despite all the books, parenting classes, and well-meaning advice. My baby cried constantly, ate all the time, hated having his diaper changed, and generally created noisy, loud (my husband swears he suffered hearing loss) chaos in my relatively peaceful life. When maternity leave ended, I was happy to go back to work.
Eighteen months later, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom for a little while and have a second baby. For the next two years, I felt profoundly lonely and isolated. All of my friends and most of my neighbors held full time jobs. My mom lived three hours away and my mother in-law was a quiet woman who kept to herself. Most days my husband was the only adult conversation I had. I used Facebook prolifically until I realized few of my friends and family actually checked Facebook. The only comforting advice I received was from my sister whose children were a few years to a few months older than mine. She simply stated, "It gets better."
I still haven't found the cure for loneliness, but gradually it is fading. I have a wonderful neighbor and friend who is a retired teacher. She is a profound comfort and support during these long days. My children are older now. With only one nap time, my youngest off the bottle and capable of walking, and my oldest capable of not running away when I can't hold his hand, the three of us are going out more and enjoying parks, bookstores, and occasionally even snack time at McDonald's or the ice cream parlor. My newest resource is babble.com, discovered through Rufus' and Alisa's discussion. Their discussion also gave me additional hope as the charts show an upturn when the children turn age five and presumably start school. I admit I am looking forward to that day with great anticipation.