When I became a mother, nearly everyone I met had left their job and became a stay-at-home-mom. Because I was still working, even if from home, I was unable to attend play groups, most library tot-times, LeLeche League meetings, and other events that help moms connect with other moms. When it comes to being a working parent, the social isolation may be even more dramatic than for stay-at-home-moms.
Sure, you have people in your office to chit-chat with during the day, but they are not “mom” friends. You cannot talk about breastfeeding issues openly in the office environment (nor would it be appropriate in most cases), the feelings you struggle with as a working mom (the guilt, the stress, the anxiety), lest you get pegged as “emotional and unstable” in the workplace. Maybe it’s just me, but when I am at work, I am pretty much all business. My colleagues are my colleagues, not my friends or my therapist.
With pre-child friendships growing further apart as your path diverges deeper into the woods of parenthood as your married-childless or single friends attend sip and paint and you are in bed at 8:30 every night; it can feel lonely. You have less in common with your childless friends. You can’t hang out as often. Your priorities shift. You don’t want to spend your evenings attending events anymore because its the only time you have with your family that day.
While I managed to find a hiking group of families to connect with, 80-90% of the moms were stay-at-home. We hiked on the weekends and tried to attend things when we could, but I have always felt “on the outside” to an extent. I simply haven’t had the stay-at-home, I’ll host playgroup this week – type of experience. I can see tight knit bonds forged among the stay-at-home moms in our hiking group. As a working parent, I simply do not have that type of social support. I do not have the time to put into fostering those relationships. I work and parent, juggling it all, usually in silence and exhaustion.
I also tend to steer away from “mom” nights out and “girl’s weekends”. I personally do not want to be away from my husband and children. I am away from the kids for 10 hours a day, I cherish the time I have with them that isn’t jam packed with trying to wrangle a 4 year old and infant into their jackets and shoes and out the door trying to beat the clock to get places on time. After the kids fall asleep at night, I finally get to hang out with my best friend, my husband.
Maybe it’s just my introverted nature, or the fact I am an older first-time mom, but settling in with a good book or staying up to watch TV with my husband after my kids snooze, is refreshing and welcome. I don’t care to drive around and meet up with friends for wine till midnight. I love those times when I do get together and have a good laugh, but it’s not a priority for me.
Maybe I am viewing this all wrong. Maybe when I am a stay-at-home mom I will feel more isolated. I will have to check back in with you in a few months and see how it’s going.
Have a great week.