I’m Not Alone

Benjamin’s in my arms right now.  Quiet, sleeping, calm. I’m watching him like an oil painting in a museum.  My tiny giant one year old.  I study his face and body.  His ears have grown; they are now the size of apricots.  His hair curls with the humidity.   I study his sounds.  His tiny snores zigzag under his breath.  When he is asleep I am Wonder Mom.  When he is overdue for a nap and I am in need of a sleep myself, I am Awful Mom.

The fight to go down for this nap lasted 30 minutes, seemingly like hours through toddler twists and mounts, crying screams that only escalated in decibels, cocooning into a curved ball on my shoulder, head butts to establish prime shoulder rest real estate, and a tenacious one year old desire to stay awake.

I tried the breast first.  It used to be my go to sleep inducer.  Doesn’t really work anymore;  he filled up –recharged and energized, hips spinning from back to belly to knees to movement, pointing to things with toddler immediacy and curious craft.  Saying “Dis, Dis,” and trying to unravel the mystery of each object.  The air purifier: white like a Storm Trooper, sleek and tall, shiny, huffing out Darth Vader voices of puffs and curled noise with electric royal blue lights humming back and forth like an elevator.    The light on the side table to the left of the mattress on the wooden floor — its cord now tucked secretly behind its back.  The light, a montage of balls and gloves – football, basketball, soccer ball, and a baseball, all equally interesting to him.  “Dat Dat.” He points again looking back at me with the inquiry of a class of eager freshman.

This nap is going nowhere.  I start to think about moms who sleep train. I begin to envy scheduled nap time where babies know to nap and agree with baby coos and smiles, snuggling lovies that offer comfort.  Teddy bears, baby blankets, little toddler hippos, grey and blue with fuzzy soft down material – some kind of something that will fill in my mom blank.  Something he wants more than me right now when I am not soft and snuggly on the inside.  In fact, I am dry as the desert and in need of an oasis of patience.  I imagine one flowing full with clear streams of mother love.  I begin to drool from the thirst.

This patience I barely have is wearing thin, like dough rolled out in transparent flakes.  I suddenly am desperate for him to go to sleep.  Desperate.  My plans on peacefully napping with him to catch up on much needed rest and sleep passes.  Quickly, like lightening bugs flashes.  I suddenly want wine, sugar, donuts, cupcakes, beer, coffee, carbs, and lots of it.  Out.  An escape hatch.  Where’s the nanny?  Where’s the hatch? Oh, I am a Stay At Home Mom. There is no hatch.  I even have an acronym: SAHM.  I’m the nanny.  There is no escape hatch.

He is smiling, grinning with giggles that echo through the room and bounce off the high ceilings of his blue bedroom.  I get a cup of oasis patience water and smile back at him.  I can’t resist the song of his giggles so gorgeous.  I’ve sang him Over the Rainbow over and over the best I could.  Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high da da da da da da da to dream aloud. Once upon a da da da da da da da. Way up top on chimney tops and lemon drops you’ll find me, waiting…

Where does the patience come from?  Where does it end?  It is quick like lightening when that long braided rope runs out, slipping quickly through my layered hands, my layered thoughts.  Layered with questions, insecurities, doubts, fields of emotions, floors of frustration, conundrums, lists of things I’ll never do, wishes put on hold, way up top next to the creamed corn, on the shelf I can barely reach.

I’ve got to raise this baby.  This boy.  My boy, Benjamin.  Hold those teeth tight.  Lassi whoa, the horses can’t gallop off.  I’ve got a family to feed, but the horses patter — their feet below the very ground that is supposed to hold me stable – sturdy – rooted in soil. My curled tendrils attach below this very ground in the garden of motherhood.  The horses’ hooves start to become restless—eager to run – to escape – to gallop in a wild childfree shout.  I start thinking about news shows and 20/20 segments about moms that start drinking at noon because of the boredom.  I think about how having a job outside the home holds me in place. Holds my mind busy, scheduled, engaged in adult synapses of activity and thought.   Boredom erupting, flowing over into red pooled lava circles. The containment area – lullabies, swing sets, and gooey gooey talk.

Earlier this morning on our morning walk, I thought about working, how even hanging on the back of a garbage truck would be more active than this.  More exciting, as I listened to the men shout and rumble through the quiet morning streets, banging and pounding, creating a symphony of noise like jazz musicians.  Strolling down the sidewalk, with my beautiful baby boy, who was taking it all in visually.  His mind turning cartwheels and somersaults.  My mind – numb with boredom.  I was suddenly jealous, eager to be hooting and shouting along with the loud garbage men, bustling with activity on this early AM morning.   I thought about interaction.  About space.  About time.  About mind.

I thought about all the people I used to talk to on a daily basis when I was a teacher and now as a SAHM, I have to check in politely for bi-monthly play dates.  I’m desperate for daily contact.  I used to see my colleagues every day.  A comment – a conversation – a break in the teacher’s longue.  Something – an exchange of ideas, humor, fashion yes nods.  “You look good today.  I like that shirt; it brings out your eye color.”  A question.  An opinion.  A complaint.  A joke.  A dare.  A don’t.  Something.  I don’t get this from Ben, from the swing set at the park, nor does the stroller answer back.  Instead, I look forward to bi-monthly mom meet ups.  My version of lonely staff meetings where we make small talk about sleep schedules, baby food, and recipes and try to get to know each other through questions like, “Where do you live and what does your husband do?”

I am too open I think, admitting to post-partum depression barely after introductions are made.  I stumble long after the group has assembled and disassembled, breaking down the baby strollers, and driving off to each of our own separate spaces.  I’m still yearning for a 9 – 5 work day; a 9 – 5 play date would work.  I ask myself and roll over the video in my sleep deprived mind – “Why did I say that?  Where is your filter for goodness sake?”  But then a mom I have just met clicks like links in a set.  She laughs at my blunt cut Grade A honesty and nods her head.  Yes, I get it. That’s all I need to hear.  I’m not alone.

Author: Megan (memomuse)

Megan Oteri is a wife, mama, and writer. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She enjoys wide open spaces and wide open hearts. She writes about her experience as a new mom and AP parent at www.memomuse.wordpress.com. You can follow her on Twitter @memomuse1 and find her on Facebook under memomuse.

19 thoughts on “I’m Not Alone”

  1. Thanks for this. I understand. I wish we lived in a less industrialized country where there was community instead of the nuclear family, and the community and family were the heart of everything. That is how it is supposed to be. There would be no loneliness in motherhood like there is now.

  2. Boy do I ever get that last paragraph. We recently moved and my kids are 2 & 4 but I totally miss the friends I met in the last town we lived for 4 years. I have yet to met another mom that ‘gets it’ in our new city.

    1. I love your writing. I see so many cool pictures in my mind when I read your words. Oh-‘the oasis of patience’…I wonder if I’ll stop longing for that one as a mom and as a teacher!

  3. You are not alone! And thank you for putting into such eloquent words the things I feel every day. The nap time struggles, the isolation and boredom, the constant search for more patience. I too am a teacher that chose to stay home, but I run a small playschool from my home. I guess I have a little more company, but 4 wild 2 year-olds hardly fulfill my need for an adult connection and conversation! It’s great to find and connect with moms with similar experiences–even if it’s in cyberspace. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Good lord! lol. Naptime is sacred as is bedtime. Alone time for mamas is scarce so very sacred. I can’t imagine trying to get more than one child down for a nap.

  4. What a beautiful, heart felt piece. Thank you for sharing it. I can relate so much to every single thing you wrote! You are not alone! xxoo

  5. I completely understand. I had postpartum depression after one of my pregnancies (I’m on the last bit of my 3rd pregnancy), and I believe one of the reasons is the drastic change going from being a working woman to a stay-at-home mom. It’s so sudden; there is no way you can prepare yourself for the change. As soon as you have your baby, or maybe a couple weeks later when hubby or mom return back to their lives and friends stop bringing over dinner meals, you find yourself alone with this new little baby. And while it’s amazing, it lacks a certain mental stimulation, adult interaction, etc. that you’re used to. And it can be difficult to adjust. But the good news is, you can adjust.

  6. I have never felt so alone as I do as a SAHM. I liked what you wrote about not censoring yourself at a playdate. I can really relate. What good is doing me to pretend that I am not lonely and isolated? Thank you for writing this.

  7. This is brilliant. Thank you so much for your words. I understand too. I haven’t suffered from PPD and work part time, but I also struggle with the boredom, the frustration and the lack of adult contact (I’m also a single mum, so there’s no one coming home at the end of the day). The days can seem endless and the pure relentlessness of it is what I find so hard. I have wonderful, wonderful moments with my daughter and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I think there needs to be more honesty about what really goes on behind closed doors.

  8. You mean my boredom is normal and pssibly common. Whew, I thought i was a horrid mom. i have a 3.5 m/o and we have been through so much because of colic. he is better now and such an adorable wonderful boy. Fusses some, but is also very pleasant. He is very active also and he constantly wants me to walk him around and help him bounce about. He hardly likes floor play. My husband is there to be a relief in the am, but I have him by myself the rest f the day. Aside from my earth ngel mom who comes on teh weekends I have him 5 days a week. I kicked myself for being bored. It could be worse, he could still be sreaming for 3 hours. I should thank my lucky stars, but instead I am bored with my new routine.

  9. I love this writing. I have been going through the exact same struggles this past week. I didn’t realize I may have postpartum depression. My 6 month old baby gril just screams for 30 minutes before each naptime. I just want to give up. Entire days have gone by in which I’m pretty sure all I did was brainstorm ways to get her to sleep. And then when shes finally asleep i just want to cry. I just finished my masters degree and now…this…
    I’m also an API blogger and am going to write about how difficult it can be to think about what you could be doing with your time instead of mommying…but being a SAHM is the best…tough to accept for me though.

    1. “I love this writing.” Now that is a super compliment. Thank you. Screaming is not fun. The pitch is so high it could melt glass. Hang in there. No mama I know would really enjoy 30 minutes of screaming. Oh my. “Entire days have gone by in which I’m pretty sure all I did was get her to sleep.” I bet that was quite a brainstorm. I love that line. I am going to post it on my “Mama Muse Journal” facebook wall. If that is ok with you. So classic. I don’t agree that being a SAHM is the best; I would rather be writing. I am able to write now because I can hear myself think because my husband has my little active toddler of trouble and cuteness away from the house. Silence is golden tan. Thanks for your comments and I look forward to your posts.

      1. Typo error:
        Should read: “Entire days have gone by in which I’m pretty sure all I did was brainstorm ways to get her to sleep.”

        Have you tried an Ergo carrier? Totally worth the money, they’re about 100 bucks new. My son has to be worn. Very attached he is. 🙂

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