The isolation of staying at home.

by michelle on December 8, 2011 · 8 comments

Ginger posted awhile ago about how being a working mom is sometimes easier than staying home. And I’ve had thoughts going through my head constantly about this subject since then. As it turns out, I have a lot of feelings about this.

I may post more than once about how I feel about being at home for the last 16ish months. But tonight? This is how I feel about it.

If asked today, I will tell you the most difficult thing about staying at home with Jonas is the lack of adult human interaction.

Oh sure, there’s twitter. Without whom I might have gone completely batshit crazy. I will be eternally grateful for the support and interaction I’ve gotten through twitter. But it’s not face to face interaction. And even I can’t fool myself into thinking that it is.

So, last weekend, while I was solo-parenting as Chris was away with boyscouts, a friend was so very gracious as to invite Jonas and myself over to play for awhile.

And while this isn’t at all a ploy to get some kind of complement or assurance that my conversation skills aren’t completely lacking, or that I’m not the most boring person in the world, this is me saying that I feel like my brain has turned to much and I no longer can hold an interesting and intelligent conversation with an adult. I could only think of things to say about my in-laws or Jonas. And while Jonas is fun and interesting, surely I can come up with more interesting things to talk about than him banging his head on the wall during a tantrum.

In writing this, I can tell that at least my ability to form sentences is intact. But that doesn’t seem to translate into talking to real live humans in person. I’ve felt for awhile that my conversational abilities were waning, but I’m convinced. I no longer know how to hold adult conversations.

Ask me about animal sounds, though? And you’re golden.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa December 8, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Your brain hasn’t turned to mush. It’s just hard to carry in a conversation with two toddlers in the room. They are either climbing the walls or doing something cute and funny.

We should have thrown them outside with James and locked the door. Ha! 😉

Lisa December 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Also, we should do it again this weekend if you’re free. And no joke, Olivia is actually walking now. I think because she saw Jonas and went “wait, other babies walk? I better get with this.”

Laurie December 9, 2011 at 6:24 am

I completely identify.

Holly December 9, 2011 at 10:00 am

I hear you! I feel completely at ease talking to Topher but when I’m talking to another adult I’m always second guessing myself. After the conversation I’m all “Did I really say that?! I feel so dumb! Does he/she think I’m an idiot?” and I get all stressed out about it. I’m only comfortable when I’m talking about Topher – but I’m sure everyone’s sick of hearing me talk about him! I’ve been back at work since May and it hasn’t really gotten any easier …

Chris December 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

I might be out of line here, but here it is …

The fundamental building block of any conversation is that of shared experience. This might be different in some contexts (especially when you’re trying to educate, entertain, or persuade), but it’s generally pretty true in my experience.

So if you’re in a room of mothers, you’re going to naturally talk about things that are applicable to mothering. The same is true if you’re in a room full of your fellow history majors, or a room full of latin nerds (the language, not the ethnicity), or a room full of your old Starbucks coworkers.

It’s certainly true for me and the contexts in which I find myself. I talk Scouting with scouters, work with co-workers, and nerdy stuff with other nerds. There’s a little bit of overlap (One of my co-workers has a son in Cub Scouts, and several of my Scouting friends are big nerds.), but the general idea still holds true.

courtney December 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Astute comments from Chris (above). I felt this way before having a baby, too — going out for drinks with work colleagues and only talking about work the whole time, for example.

But I think you’re making another point besides just “I don’t have anything to talk about,” right? Which is how I’m feeling, too, if I’m reading you correctly — “my identity has been subsumed by motherhood to the point that I don’t feel I exist anymore except in reference to my child.” It’s a hard pill to swallow some days, even when feeling overwhelming love and happiness (like what you described in your last post!).

Ashley // Our Little Apartment December 12, 2011 at 8:31 am

I think, for me, being home 7 days a week would be really, really hard – mostly because my only social interaction is at work and Mike has class until 7 or 8 most nights. We don’t have enough money or a second car for me to actually leave the house and go to social things like shopping or Gymboree or whatever it is that people can do with their babies.

I do struggle with feeling bad that my ONLY social interaction is at work. I have a work friend and he also admits that he has no friends outside of work…which makes me feel less crazy. I do like Twitter, I know that Twitter is no substitute for real interaction – and sometimes I use Twitter or Facebook just to be validated, to know that someone out there is listening to me. And that is a whole weird problem in and of itself, you know?

Ginger December 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

My husband talks about the same thing. When I get home at the end of the day, there are days when he just unleashes a stream of conversation at me for a good 20-30 minutes about…well, anything. I know it’s because he’s cooped up in the house with just the toddler and is grasping at adult interaction. Heck, I even experience it when I’ve been with J on the weekends. It’s almost like you have to boot your brain into different modes.

But I’ll tell you my little secret. I actually feel the same way a lot of the time, at least about holding adult conversations. I feel like I fake it at work, because I have to be able to talk budgets and management, but when you get to SOCIAL talk? Uh…umm….herm…well….it always comes back to the kid, some parenting blog I read, or motherhood. I’ve tried to have conversations about politics, tv, movies, books…nope. Those don’t last long, if at all. Back to the kiddos…

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that RIGHT NOW in particular, the kids require so much brainpower when we’re with them and even when we’re not. They are still VERY needy, and so that’s where our focus goes. I have to hope someday I’ll be able to think other thoughts someday, but until then, let’s chat about my 2 year old some more.

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