Friendship is a funny thing. It often starts out that our friends are those we see the most, like people at school or work. As we change things up, we meet new friends and still keep some old ones too. But what if your new “job” doesn’t have any coworkers?
Being a stay-at-home mom is like being stranded on a deserted island sometimes. You’ve probably got the “one item” you were promised, like your cell phone or a boat. But you don’t use these lifelines to escape the island. Instead, they’re like a magic mirror to see the outside world but barely interact with it. Or at least, they’ve been like that for me.
When I worked, I was the social butterfly. I was an office manager, so I knew EVERYONE that worked at my company. Brand new employee? Yep, I knew plenty. Remote office in CA? Yep, I know everyone’s name and tons of fun facts about them–I wrote the welcome emails. Tech team in the UK? I chat with them every day! I had so many friends and acquaintances at work that some days, it felt more like high school and less like a job.
But friendships as a stay-at-home mom aren’t like that anymore. There isn’t a scheduled time to see people, or even a need to leave the house and/or chat with anyone. Suddenly, you realize that you kinda miss even disliking people. It’s isolating and lonely and the worst part is that the worse it gets, the more likely you are to push people away.
I found myself reading group chats but never replying. Giving short answers when I got texts. Wondering why people were “bothering me” when in fact they were just reaching out. I didn’t know how to reply to people saying they missed me because the only person I missed was myself. I had isolated myself so heavily that I thought it was normal. It’s like I was on the deserted island, hiding in the trees, while everyone else tried to find me. I heard the calls, but it was like I preferred to be stranded rather than to go back to living a “normal” life.
While I was busy being lost at sea, a few friends recognized that something wasn’t right. They’ve been following up with me, asking me to go out on playdates, and essentially forcing me to interact with people. One friend has even been offering to babysit so my husband and I could have a date night. For no particular reason, I have not taken her up on that offer. It’s like I can’t abandon this new reality that I have. A reality that I can change at any moment but can’t seem to find the strength to change.
As a SAHM, there are no “required interactions” with people. We have to MAKE these interactions, and they are needed. They help us to feel like ourselves and be human again. They help us to find someone that understands exactly what we are going through, or can at least empathize with it. It’s important to go out into the real world, instead of living it through everyone’s social media posts and sinking further into the abyss.
If you are a mom that feels like me, please accept the help of your friends. And it would probably help to seek counseling. I just started, and I feel like it’s been helping. And if you’ve got a mom friend that pushes you away, cancels plans, or barely talks? Keep engaging with her! Make sure she’s really okay. And please encourage her to get help if she needs it. I can’t thank my friends enough for doing this for me. It’s meant everything to me to have them there for me when I can’t even be there for myself.
Cathy Cardona is a blogger, photographer and content creator that empowers women to be more creative and go after their goals. She offers colorful lifestyle content, time saving DIY’s, party ideas and expert educational resources on her blog, Party HarDIY. Her motto? “If it’s going to be there, it might as well be pretty!” She’s a stay-at-home mom to Hailey, a sweet and exuberant toddler who keeps her busy all day long. As a recovering perfectionist, she’s finding the balance between striving for greatness and living each day to its fullest with those she loves.
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