not…alone

October 27, 2009 at 5:00 am 5 comments

alone_with_the_alone_by_pakpao

When I was pregnant with Echo I felt really alone. Nathan would say how funny or strange that seemed since carrying another living being inside my body might be the least alone I’d ever be. But “alone” isn’t just the physical reality of being the only one in the room. I felt alone even with another human being within me. Alone is a feeling, and feelings don’t always coincide with physical realities.

More than two years later, I’m still thinking about that idea. Alone in spirit.

Echo and I rode over to Kris’ house  today and I realized that she and  I live only blocks away from each other, yet are often completely isolated from one another. She is in her house feeding, playing, and holding her children. And I am in my house feeding, playing, and holding my own. As I rode through the neighborhood I wondered how many other parents am I passing? How many of those silent houses shelter another mom or dad feeding, playing, and holding?

How many of them, though inside a crowded house, feel alone?

When I was pregnant I felt alone because the person nearest to me was not pregnant, and though he is amazing, I knew he was not feeling the same things I was. No matter how often you say “we’re” pregnant, it still isn’t true. No one can deliver that baby for you,and that can feel lonely.

What helped, at the time, was empathy from someone who had experienced something similar. It felt good when my midwife visited and told me tales of kicking her husband out of the house because she was pregnant and wildly pissed off. It felt good to go to birth class and see other bellies. It felt good to hear stories I could relate to, from people I related to.

Now I am parenting in a way that flows against the current of our culture. To parent with empathy as a foundation can be a lonely enterprise indeed, as this is not the norm. Odds are your mother-in-law (or neighbor, or  grocery clerk) thinks you are crazy, your own mother may feel these choices are a direct attack on her parenting, and nine out of ten parents at a birthday party do not parent as you do.

Today, even more than when I was pregnant, I need people I relate to, to hear me, and share with me. I need to cross the divide, to make it the few blocks to my friend’s house, and hear her talk. I need the simple text that reconnects me. I need lifelines that keep me from being alone in the crowded room.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I only know that if I feel this then someone else might feel it too. And if they do feel this way, it might help to read these words late at night while their children sleep. I am reaching across the divide.

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i feel so irritated by your feelings pumpkin empathy

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ivy  |  October 27, 2009 at 7:10 am

    You speak most powerfully when you speak through the well of your feelings. While I don’t parent in the exact same way that you do, I have taken away a lot from your blog and Kris’. I feel I am a better parent right now because of it and it actually makes me feel more connected to family and less alone than I had been feeling.

    Reply
  • 2. gen  |  October 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post. It seems I have been thinking these thoughts for some time now and you have put it so eloquently. Parenting has sometimes (more often than I care to admit) felt like long lonesome days and short fast years. (my little one is almost two!) Thanks again for your courage in crossing the divide. You are not alone and neither am I! Also, I love the idea of houses full of parents feeding, loving, holding their little ones. I’ve used this visual at 3am when I’ve felt that I’m sure I’m the only human being awake and I’m never going to sleep through the night again.

    Reply
  • 3. Alyssa  |  October 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I spend a lot of time thinking about the alone stuff. My life as a SAHM is so much quieter than my life was as a working and getting paid woman. I feel mostly content with this new life but it can feel lonely. Sometimes I do strange things to fill the void of this loneliness…things that are actually huge wastes of time. If I can relax and be thankful for this lesson of being alone and being ok with it, I feel so much better. It’s those calm alone moments where I don’t feel lonely, if that makes sense? It’s that alone feeling that I felt when I was birthing my daughter…there were some key people with me but I felt alone. That’s an alone feeling I can deal with…but it can be hard to maintain that one. Thanks for the reminder that we’re not actually alone.

    Reply
  • 4. Abby  |  October 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I can very much relate. I am pregnant with my first one right now, and though I feel very supported by my spouse, I often feel alone when I’m around friends, most of which have already had kids. I feel as if my feelings aren’t being validated, but passed over as “we all went through that..moving on…”.
    As for people in their own houses…I so wish communes were easy to start…I’m all about them. 🙂

    Reply
  • 5. Joanna Smetanka  |  October 28, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    This really resonates with me, especially lately. I am choosing a different parenting path than most people I know, even my partner. On days when the boys and I get to just stay home, I feel like we are on our own little island, which is sometimes amazing. Other times I crave companionship with like-minded parents who don’t expect me to punish or praise. Sometimes it feels lonely to follow your heart I guess. But, it is good to know that you are out there to connect with when the kids are sleeping. Thanks.

    Reply

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