Thursday, March 5, 2009

Suffocating

I'm going to be a little bit real/revealing today.

The loneliness and isolation I often feel as a stay-at-home mom is suffocating and sometimes excruciating. On stay-at-home mom message boards you hear the concern a lot so I know it's common for women who make the choice to stay at home to feel this way.

I don't have many true-blue girlfriends to begin with. Somehow or the other, I just have never really had the opportunity to cultivate those friendships throughout my life being somewhat introverted and very "booky". Right now, I'd say, I'm pretty "different", I guess some would label me eccentric. I don't generally go with the flow and I *must* do my own thing. So here I am at 27 years of age and I can really only say I have about three friends, all of which I met as an adult. One lives far away (and we really only reconnected recently). The other is on her way to becoming a naturopathic doctor and has a child of her own so she's extremely busy. And the other works full time and has a child of her own and one on the way. Me and her generally do drive-by visits. Oh, and there's my sons' godmothers, one of whom lives in Ethiopia right now and before that lived in California.

I won't lie . . . sometimes I start to feel a bit sorry for myself and think that if I were back at work, I wouldn't notice the void so much because I'd be too busy running around. But going back to work so that I can ignore the void is not the answer, I know.

Trust me, I've reached out plenty of times. Joined meetup.com and other groups for stay-at-home moms. Somehow or someway, it just never really worked out and I have not been able to make real connections that way. I actually hate doing aerobics and would rather do yoga any day. I've been thinking about taking a yoga class. I also am interested in belly dance too and I know that would be a way to get fit that I'd actually enjoy. I'd like to take a class of that too. It struck me that classes might be a good way to make connection with all different kinds of folks (because while a good friend who was a stay-at-home mom and on the same tip as me regarding natural living and world view would be exactly what I need, I'm open to all kinds of connections). The problem is who would watch the children? There's really no money in the budget for babysitters and so I basically have to do things that I want to do alone while the kids are asleep or while the hubby is home. And since he's not home all that often, it leaves me with very little time.

Then I decide that it's silly to be worrying about making friends as an adult and I really should just turn on the radio, fold this laundry, knit this sock, read this book . . . but it's inescapable. Sometimes you just want to go over to your friends house and just sit. And it's magnified by 10x's in this cold, cold winter because generally when I feel this way, I could pile the boys into the stroller and walk for miles listening to music or something or go to the playground and absorb myself in playing with them. The snow and the cold make these things difficult if not impossible.

I get tired of taking the boys to the library, playground, and other activities where I end up basically talking and playing with my boys, while the adults ignore each other. Adults seem to want to avoid meaningfully connecting by all means. I recently called one lady who brings the children she watches to the library program we go to and while we seemed to have a good conversation at the library, on the phone she seemed disinterested and distant. I figured she only talked to me at the library, then, because I was there in person driving the conversation and face-to-face you often can't just be like, "leave me the hell alone." (It's a testament to my personal growth that I didn't personally feel rejected by her coldness on the phone.)

Anyway, many days the only other adult I speak to is the hubby and since lately he works so much overtime, I often find that the whole day has been spent talking to and dealing with children. I go to bed mentally and physically exhausted only to repeat the whole thing the next day. Recently, I've been making it a point to read at least one mentally stimulating article daily. Even if there's no one to talk to about it.

It's gotten to the point now where I don't even want to participate on message boards or comment on folks' blogs anymore. I'll ask a question or make a comment and no one responds to it. It makes me upset. I realize that what I really want is someone to talk to, to reason with, and most times, it's just not there. Instant messaging doesn't cut it . . . I can't be attached to my computer all day. The internet, all around, is a poor subsititute for a roll dog to vibe with and dialogue with.

The whole situation has me really re-considering homeschool. Honestly. If I don't have any connections myself, how will I help my children make connections? I want to homeshcool them but I don't want to cut them off from social interaction. I've been busting my behind trying to find it and I just can't. Sure they would go to music classes, martial arts classes, swimming classes, etc . . . but would that be enough? And where is the money going to come from to do all this extra stuff to make sure they have social outlets? We'd need more income and I'm not entirely sure I could work and do a good job with homeschool.

It struck me the other day that one of the better schools on the north side of the tracks claims to have closed enrollment, i.e. only kids who live in that zone can go there. But my sister-in-law sent her kids to a school on the north side and she says it was just a matter of talking to folks and making your demands known. This school is a blue ribbon school within walking distance. I substituted there a while back and was very impressed. I do believe Z1 and Z2 would do well there and it would give me a few years to think about what we'll do when it's time for middle school (absolutely no way in hell they will go to middle school in this town). While they're at school, I could work part-time somewhere or focus on getting an advanced degree--something that would give me flexibility and time for them. I definitely know that I don't want to go back to full-time teaching.

So, I'm telling you, it's suffocating. I love being here for my boys and being a stay-at-home mother, but like with every choice, there are consequences. You don't always know exactly what you're in for when you make a decision but being grown means you just handle it. So while I'm not depressed about it (because honestly, I have a lot of shit to do with a 3 and a 1 year old anyway--I can't sit around depressed too long about things), I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me, that it didn't make me sad at times. There's no easy solution to this. So all I can really do is take it one day at a time remaining as open as I can be to opportunities to connect.

(((shrugs shoulders))) Time to go work out . . .

11 comments:

Emily said...

Greetings-
I have been following your blog for a few months now, I actually went and read it form the begining when I found it so I would be "caught up". I look forward to reading your thoughts every day and have taken a few of your recommendations. I too am a stay at home mother to a two and a half year old and a six month old and find it a challenge every day to stay sane. I love my childen and love that I am able to stay home but find myself wanting to do my own thing some times. My DH works a lot and when he comes home he is often exausted and not up for stimulating conversation. I am new to my area and just begining to look for other moms to spend time with, if not for me then for the kids. My DH's family is in town, his sister's family lives next door, but we are so different from them. They are much like your "average" family and look at me funny when I won't let my son eat thair ultra refined birthday cakes or watch Disney movies. Anyway I feel like I understand where you are coming from on a lot, if not all, of your posts. And often agree with what you say. Hope that Spring comes soon for you, I know how important it is to be able to go outside everyday with the little ones.
Blessings
Emily

Raet said...

I understand that you want to take classes and go out ALONE. I had a break down in class once and cried. I had too much on my mind and I was a little mad that I was the only mother in class that had to bring her son. Now, there are other kids in class.

It is not normal to have children all the time. I went to my grandmother’s every weekend. I spent all summer with her and other cousins. We played outside all day and did not irritate her. It is called African community. Unfortunately, in America even the grandparents have become Americanized and don’t take the grandchildren for weekends and most of the summer. It pisses me off when my mom has a tone under her voice and I ask her to watch my son for the weekend. Sometimes I have travel for books, other times I need some me time. I barely ask her to watch my son. I am grateful she watched him every day for the first two years when not in daycare.

This lifestyle of the Western nuclear family will drive anyone of African descent insane. On Monday I worked from home when it snowed. It was too much to do work, watch my son, and keep him from messing the house up. I feel no shame or guilt on my days off from work and I still send him to preschool. It is no vacation if he is home. It may sound harsh, but it is the truth.

I would rather my son be in a cultural school than homeschooled for his early years. I would prefer him to be homeschooled when he is older. But, you never know this may change, because, if you don’t have relief on weekends it can be too much.

We are Africans (I don’t care how long our ancestors have been here) we love to commune with friends, party, laugh, and release. I am not ashamed of it. When I go out and dance, come in at 2:30 in the AM, no mama guilt. It is so worth the money I pay for the sitter. I pay her 40.00 usually. Because, I want to make it worth her while. It is hard to get younger people to sacrifice their Friday and Saturday nights. In the summer it is even harder.

blackgirlinmaine said...

Chi-chi,

I feel you sista, I really do. It seems to be that the women I know who homeschool succesfully tend to have a fair amount of activities which if you are trying to reduce spending can be problematic.

You made a comment about having a roll dog, I think its critical to have such a person in our lives. We don't need 200 friends and while we love our partners, sometimes we just need a homie to kick it with. In fact I am sad because my one such sista friend up here in Maine is moving out of state and its really bugging me.

I have been a SAHM and a WAHM and neither have worked as well as when I am out of the house. In theory I love the idea of being with my child all the time but she is intense and honestly drives me nutter butter at times.

I think Raet hit upon some really crucial points for women of African ancestry. I think we need people around us, hell I need music. Living in Maine is hard because the natural community and lifestyle I gravitate to does not exist.

I think raising kids with just 2 or 1 parents is beyond hard. I was a single Mama with my eldest who is 17 but to be honest not having my Mama and Granny and extended family any lnnger makes raising my daughter harder even though I have a husband.

Hugs to you sista. I wish you were closer to me.

Just Me said...

Girl, I just want to pick up the phone and call you. I feel you girl, I feel you. Just know that you are not alone.
Sabrina

Chi-Chi, The Original Wombman said...

Emily: I'm so glad you can relate to what I write. Thanks for the encouragement.

Raet: You speaks the whole truth. Actually, I wasn't planning on sending Z1 to preschool but your post has really made me start considering it. Registration is in a few days. I am thinking it might be good for him to be away from me for a few hours a day. I wish we had some options for cultural schools. But sister, your words about not feeling shame really resonated with me. We have to work at being whole ourselves in order to be any good to our youths.

Truly, I'm annoyed at how disconnected my parents are from their grandchildren and they were not even raised in the U.S. They were born and bred in Nigeria. It's amazing how quickly we forget our traditional ways of life. And you're right . . . Western lifestyle could just drive an African person nutso.

BGIM: Z1 is quite the high intensity child too. I really have had to work on being calm and collected in light of his behavior. I know that I need some kind of outlet and I'm hoping that opportunities for me soon come knocking. It helps for me to be out of the house by myself. Regularly. And making some paper on top of that would be perfect. I don't necessarily think being a SAHM is exactly natural but, it seems for me, it's an either/or situation. If I knew then what I know now, I would have gone to school for speech therapy or something else that is flexible. Working out of home as a teacher was just insane.

Just Me: Thanks! It helps to know I'm actually not alone. :)

Anonymous said...

I was a stay at home mom when my kids were young and it can be lonely. At the time we had just moved to a new city and I did not have any friends so the only adult i would talk to during the day was my husband, but gradually I did connect with some other stay at home mothers through storytime at the mall and just getting outside. it will be spring soon and you will be able to get out and walk with the kids so I just say hang in there it does get better.
www.ebonymompolitics.wordpress.com

80sBaby70sSoul said...

Awww...I'm so sorry, hun (yet happy that you claimed me as one of your close friends...at least I think that's what I read). I wish I was back in NYC to be there for you and all of my other people with little ones. I am totally for fighting to get the boys into a good school and then using your free time to reconnect to the "adult" world. I feel that finding friends is a lifelong process and is imperative in maintaining sanity (one reason why I am looking ahead and considering joining a sorority and other social groups).

I agree with Raet 100% about the breakdown of the African community and I implore you to allow the kids to go by your parent's house more often.

Know that no matter where we are in life, I will always be here for you. You can even call me at 4am when you wake up!

Tiffany said...

Chi Chi,

I really can relate to your feelings on this topic. I am a stay at home mom of two as well. I have a four year old and a 13 month old. With my first child I stayed home for a year. I was so happy to be home with my child but I was miserable. I felt sad and lonely. Having said all this I was troubled to hear that I would have to return to work. Going back to work had its own set of troubles. I felt like a failure because my husband and I planned our pregnancy and I was devastated that our plan did not work out. My first at home I was seeking connections but nothing came out of it. Now i am at home again and my experience has been completely different. I encourage you to keep trying to make those connections, volunteer, take a dance class etc. I know finances are an issue, however I had to sit down with my husband and really have a heart to heart with him. I found that a dance class at the local community college was affordable and I could work that around my hubby's schedule. My husband works a lot and is working on his Master's. I really understand how you feel about being by yourself. Infact when I had my second child I begged my hubby to stop taking classes for a semester so I could have some help. I will stop my correspondence here as I feel like I am rambling. Good Luck to you I hope you find a great friend.

Smokie said...

Heeeey....

I work and I don't feel like I have a real close set of girlfriends. We IM, text, email, and talk on the phone here and there but we don't really just hang out together. That would be nice.

I read your blog frequently. I like the simple wholesomeness of it. It fulfills a part of me that is me but is not me. Meaning, I'd like to be a stay at home mom here and there, but I know I couldn't do it all the time. And truth be told, I KNOW that if I were at home all day I'd be bored crazy and I'd be smoking blunts to pass the time. I don't know how you do it, but I read your blog because I admire what you do and I wish I had a friend like you -- someone totally different from me, but yet alike. I hope you can understand that.

Having said that I also want to tell you to buy some processed cheap food and use the money you save to get out of the house alone and have a good time. Have a drink at a bar or something. You have to live a little and do something for yourself. Something that's not homemade but right there for your quick enjoyment.

And as far as homeschooling goes.... girl, I wouldn't dare. Send those kids to school, get a part time job, and enjoy yourself. The happier you are mentally, the better you'll be for your kids.

BUT, if you don't do anything I've suggested, I'll still keep reading because while I can't do what you do, I STILL admire it and wish I had the desire to do the things you do.

I probably rambled, but I don't feel like proofing! :-) Love you!

Chi-Chi, The Original Wombman said...

Smokie, I read your comment a few days ago. (((hugs))) Can't tell you how much I appreciate your honesty and believe me, I took your words to heart. Thanks you.

Chi-Chi, The Original Wombman said...

It's amazing how a few months changes things . . . how your whole circumstance can turn around. :) I should blog about how different things are right now. LoL.

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