Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On Loneliness

Early motherhood can be very lonely. It's something that's been said to me again and again and it's true. Being home all day with young kids is exhausting and makes it hard to get out there and make friends. While conversations with a 3-4 year old can be interesting, they are not stimulating in the way adult conversations are.
So, how do I combat this?
A few ways. For one, I try to get out as much as I can. For me, that means playgroups, the park, the gym, the library... any free activity I can find. Sometimes this gets me into conversations with other adults and that's really helpful.
I heard advice that listening to CBC radio helps, since you always have an adult talking, and I do that, though G now has an opinion on what she hears! 
I also try to see friends in the evenings, which is not all that often, but when I am involved in a home group, it is once a week.

But the major thing I do is connect with people online. I'm on twitter and facebook, I have a few message boards about parenting I frequent. I have a sci-fi message board I've been involved for over 10 years now (many of the people from that board have become good friends, even though we've never met in person!).
I love the internet. It opens doorways and conversations with like-minded people and it feeds into my love for information and knowledge. In the world we live in, there isn't the same level of friends and family to help you out with parenting. It used to take a village to raise a child, and now my village is online support.

However, it is a double-edged sword. While I love connecting with people who have similar views and philosophies as I do, it sometimes gives me a skewed view of the world.
One of the few things I remember from my Intro to Psych class is the Availability Heuristic - the way in which our brain makes leaps from anecdotal evidence to the probability of it happening again. When we hear a few stories of the same thing happening to different people, our brains make the leap of "this is something that happens to people".

For me, it's a perception of judgement.  For example, when I read stories online of people who hate babies in restaurants, I start to assume that everyone does. If two people mention it, or if there is a group of even 1000 people on facebook that say "all restaurants should ban children!", it leads me to think that every childless adult I encounter thinks this way, even though 1000 people out of the billions of people online is a tiny, tiny amount. When I start assuming that everyone is judging me for my choices (cloth diapers, breastfeeding beyond a year, not spanking, being cautious about princess culture), I start being judgmental right back. It's easy to tweet a snarky comment about a mom I see instead of actually engaging in conversation.
So, I'm trying to stop. When I find myself looking at an article or anecdote online, I'm being deliberate about stepping back and saying "This happened to one person, not to me."

Because, when it comes to connecting with people, the positive outweighs the negative. I really appreciate all the advice and expertise that the internet can provide.


  1. Yes! I have needed online to vent and connect and ask questions and provide support to others. But I have struggled with it making me feel like a failure all too often. Every once in a while I have to step back and re-gain perspective on my life and parenting. But I would definitely be a very lonely person if it wasn't for the Internet! :)