Recently a fellow SMC and adoptive mother posed this question to her Facebook followers: have you lost or gained friendships since becoming a mother?
I read the responses of mothers raving about the mommy friends they have and the way they keep each other sane with quite a bit of sadness. Since the arrival of my first foster child I have essentially lost or become very distanced from my close friends. A lot of it was a lack of effort on my part at the time (lack of sleep and such with a new baby), and a lack of availability on my part as well. Maybe they began to find me boring or unrelatable… After all, I couldn’t join them at restaurants or bars later in the evening or night, I couldn’t crash on their couches between work shifts, I couldn’t go to concerts or cafes, I couldn’t attend karate trainings or special events. I know that the axis of my world completely shifted, while theirs continued steadily in the same direction. It’s understandable, but oh how it breaks my heart, and how I miss, truly and deeply, their company and who I was with them. The fun we had. The lack of loneliness when we were together.
Many moms experience this with their childless friends… They go on to form new and awesome friendships with fellow moms. They join together and become a supportive community, kids aging together, moms sipping coffee and commiserating and supporting. I have tried embarrassingly hard to find such a friend or tribe of friends for myself. From music class and playgroup moms, to neighbors and fellow preschool moms, we may have a play date once… And then nothing. All future offers to hang out are turned down. No one is available anymore. I tried to relate to the organic co op moms, the fellow single mom on the playground (who uninvited my daughter from her daughter’s birthday party because… I’m not sure, but she doesn’t want to hang out now), co-workers with kids. Nothing. Maybe a play date or two, then they all become suddenly unavailable. After one or two offers or invites or “hey how about getting together sometime?”s I take the hint and stop asking. I’m not a stalker, or a pest. Maybe they’ve all found their communities so there’s really just no place for me there… Maybe my support of unschooling weirds them out. Maybe I’m too single, not traditional enough, too gay, not gay enough, my daughter is too rough when she plays, or wrecks too many other girls’ neatly arranged art projects, or the other little boys don’t like playing with the girl who wants to play so with them so badly. Maybe I live too far away from anyone to make spontaneous get togethers possible.
I can’t figure out what it is, really. Maybe it’s just something about me others can’t connect with. I just know that if it takes a village, I don’t have one. I have my mom, and my daughter. I have work related socializing with adults while at work. I beg my sister frequently to let us come to her house just to hang out (she doesn’t ask me to and doesn’t come to mine). And that’s… it. There are days I tell myself it’s fine, I’m fine. There are days I’m so desperate for socializing with other adults I’ll chat happily with bored cashiers. Most of the time I just feel isolated, and alone. I find books or shows to fill in the void. I pray that someday I’ll feel better about being a solitary creature. I hope that my people are out there somewhere, and dream of the day I can escape this place and find out.
Being a mom to my amazing girl has been the absolute best and most rewarding thing that’s ever happened in my life… But here is the darker side of it. Who knows if I’d have more community in a childless life… But I wouldn’t trade my experience as a mother for anything.