Kids are wonderful. I genuinely don’t know what I would do without mine. They are the cherry on my sundae, the angel that tops my tree, and the warm blanket that wraps me in their love. My children make life worth living, and while they are so present in my life and always with me, I can’t help but feel lonely even when I’m never alone. It’s not for lack of people but a loss of identity, which can be hard.
I have four children. They range in age from 14 to 7. It didn’t seem like that big of a gap between the oldest and youngest until this year, with a daughter in first grade and a high school freshman son. Talk about different worlds. And I am a part of those worlds. (That sounds like Ariel!) But being a part of those worlds as a mom isn’t like it was before I had kids. My life is no longer about me. It is about them, and while I am not complaining, some of me disappeared along the line.
You Change When You Have a Child
I don’t care who you are; you change when you have a child. You are not the person you were even the day before you met that child. Do you sometimes long for the person you used to be? Maybe that was someone who went to happy hour after work or a woman who could get lost in a book for hours. You didn’t think about soccer schedules and safety covers on electrical outlets. What happened to her? What happened to the people who were in her life before? They may still be there, but it isn’t like it used to be.
I miss those days when life was less complicated. I made my own money, bought my own things, and lived my own life. I’ve spent a lot of time as a stay-at-home mom and sometimes miss working. That probably sounds crazy to a lot of people. Who misses working? Who misses getting dressed up in the morning when you can lounge around in pajamas? Why would you want to sit in an office and do the same thing repeatedly when you can watch Netflix and eat Doritos? That is where people get it wrong. That is not what my life has been all about.
Coworkers are Like a Family
There is something special about coworkers. They aren’t your family, but they feel like it and make you feel less alone. We know about work wives and work husbands, the people you confide in about your real husband or wife, and know what’s going on in your personal life. I can’t complain about those things to my kids. They’re part of what I want to complain about. Now that I am not in the working world, I rarely talk to my old coworkers because they’ve moved on with their lives, and so have I. But I miss them. I miss that life.
Yes, I have spent many days talking and letting it all out to a baby who couldn’t talk back. Is it cathartic? Absolutely. But it lacks the advice part. There is no laughter or the empathy your coworker feels when you remember you forgot to plug in the crockpot before you left for work that morning. Those babies touched my soul in a way no office mate ever could, but there is more to life.
I do find myself tired at this point in my life, too. Early 40s, large family, a house I can’t keep up with, and laundry I will never finish. Who else feels that way? I admit there is something to be said about what social media does to a person. I get lost in it sometimes and feel normal again. There is the good, and there is the downright horrible. And you must be very careful how you tread those waters.
Does Every Parent Long for Their Life Before?
I see pictures of beautiful vacations and happy families. I post the same things. But are they really that happy and fulfilled? Or is there a part of them longing for what their existence was like a few years ago, too? I wonder.
I recently went to my high school reunion and was slapped with the reality that I wasn’t lonely in high school. I was always doing something and going somewhere. These friends played such an essential role in my life for different reasons. One friend I hadn’t seen since our last reunion filled my soul that night. I hugged her so tight when I saw her. And we naturally went back to those carefree days like it was nothing. And it was. It was a blink.
Speaking of blinks, my kids are growing so fast. I sometimes can’t comprehend that it’s been 15 years since the first time I was pregnant. I remember being 15 and thinking it was a lifetime until I turned 16 and could get my driver’s license. As an adult, time goes by so quickly. Am I wrong to lament my younger days? To miss the days of being a selfish kid and self-oriented adult before my first son was born? No, feeling alone is okay even though your home is full.
And as much as I think about what it would be like to doll myself all up again at 6 a.m. and head to the office, I realize that I need to fill my cup a bit fuller with the people I have in my home while I have them. Because in the next blink of my eye, they will all be out of the house, and true loneliness will set in.