When you have a baby, you are community property. You have plans for every weekend, family visit upon family visit, and you perform such still-novel tasks as diaper changes with a constant audience.
You go along with it because otherwise you would have to think, and at this point, your ability to think is like your pre-pregnancy pants—a lovely but foreign concept, a relic of a different time.
So you show up where you’re expected. After all, it’s nice that people want to see you.
It’s not about you, though… it’s never about you. It’s about the baby. The people who surround you will expect access to the baby. They will resent your requests that they wash their hands or vaccinate themselves against the flu and pertussis. They have a right to be there, don’t you know? What makes you think that you get to act as gatekeeper between this person and the baby?
Not all are so self-involved, and some will do backflips to make your new-baby life easier, but others are really more interested in their own desire to see the baby than they are in your desire to schedule your own life.
So maybe you start to get burned out on people, and want some time alone. Maybe you turn down plans, or you just don’t go out of your way to make them.
And there you are, alone.
So you go to the mom groups. You join everything you can, schlepping the baby and the diaper bag anywhere you might make a friend. You soon realize you don’t have much in common with many of these people other than the capacity to procreate. Then there are some others you do get along with, but you don’t really know how to make plans now, mired as you are in the hectic baby schedule, knowing they have their own hectic schedule. Should you and your child have night owl tendencies, this will be especially difficult.
And there you are, alone.
So you find yourself in online parenting groups. If you’ve spent months on pregnancy forums, maybe you know by now to avoid the general parenting groups, and you look instead to more specialized ones where you can find like-minded parents. And you do, and you make great friends, and they vaccinate their children and never cite Mercola or Natural News as a source for anything. But they all live far away, and sometimes you wonder if maybe they’re ruining you for the people who live close enough to get together and have play dates or go for coffee.
So there you are, alone.
And as time passes, and the baby, now a child, tests your sanity more and more each day, you desperately seek connections with people who choose to spend time with you. You! With or without the child. People who want you around, not because they’re obligated in any way, but because they just… like you. New friends or old, parents or not. You don’t expect anyone to fix you, you just don’t want to overwhelm or offend them; you know your feelings aren’t pretty. You want to reminisce and you want to create new memories.
But over time, you have become weird. Was it becoming a parent? Was it lack of social practice? Was it the deleterious effects of loneliness on your sanity? Whatever the cause, you are weird now, or at least you suspect you are, and you think it must show. You don’t understand the social dance, and every step feels like a misstep. You know people care about you, but it’s not always easy to remember.
You know you need to reach out. You don’t know where to start and you don’t want to come on too strong, but somehow, you hope, you will find the strength to do…something.
And maybe you won’t be alone.
Featured image: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/83312