Posted by: Hannah | 09/01/2011

lonesome town

More and more the internet is where I socialize.

Since choosing to work at home (for a whole host of reasons, some better than others, probably) I find my opportunities for face-to-face adult conversation are pretty limited. I don’t know if most people who work outside the home really realize how much they depend on the work environment for mental stimulation, but I can tell you that I miss it – it’s the single hardest thing about being a stay-at-home mom, the isolation.

Sometimes my days are flat-out boring. Yes, boring. The good days usually are. The ‘good’ days are the days when everyone naps when they’re supposed to; when the kids play together peacefully; when the cat doesn’t shit in the bathtub and the dog doesn’t scratch fur all over the carpet; when no telemarketers call and no parents pin me down the doorway to fret about something silly and Thing #2 doesn’t throw any screaming tantrums. Hubby comes home from work on those days and says “so tell me about your day” and he thinks I’m holding out on him, or something, because I can honestly say “nothing much happened”. Because it’s true.

The ‘bad’ days are awful. On the bad days I’m drained, touched out, my feet hurt, my pelvis hurts from the pregnancy and an inability to sit down often enough. On the bad days I don’t want to talk about my day, because it sounds like a litany of complaint. On the bad days all I want when the last extra kid leaves is to go sit in a room alone for ten minutes. I never get to do that though, because good or bad, once my workday ends my other day begins. And I need to make dinner, and coax Thing #2 to eat some dinner, and clean up from dinner, and pack lunches and do bathtime and get kids into pajamas and read a chapter from Little House to one and a chapter from Harry Potter to the other and take something out of the freezer for the next day’s dinner. On those days when hubby says “tell me about your day” I just shrug and say “oh, it was rough. The kids were cranky and things didn’t go so well. I’m pretty tired.” And if pushed the floodgates open, and I rant and complain and chew about this one and that one, and I hate being the person who complains about my job – I really do.

And we retreat to our corners and he fiddles around with computer games and I watch Storage Wars on TV.

I have lost friends since I decided to work at home. I have gotten into family rows on Facebook because, you know, posting about toilet training is BORING and GROSS and STUPID. The only adults I can talk to during the day are either other stay-at-home moms, which just becomes a feedback loop where I hear the same stories about different kids… or my internet friends, who don’t mind if I drop a Twitter conversation mid-stream because a kid is demanding my attention… my internet friends, who are reading the same stories as me at the same time so we can talk about them… my internet friends, who are almost always (yesterday’s Facebook upset notwithstanding) unfailingly humourous, and encouraging, and witty, and acerbic, and downright lovely.

I’m sure if we were all roommates, we’d find ways to argue. But because of the transient nature of the internet relationship, it doesn’t seem to happen. If I find the conversation dull, I just log off. If I perhaps don’t agree with what everyone else is saying but don’t feel like the dramaz, I just don’t engage.

Real life isn’t like that. But that doesn’t mean internet relationships are any less valid.

I find myself constantly adding the qualifier “online” when I mention that I spoke with a friend. The word feels awkward in my mouth and it feels dishonest too, like just because we aren’t sitting on opposite sides of a table in a coffee bar with smoke and jazz curling around our ankles our friendship is somehow less.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, other than that the advance early bird pricing for BlogHer 2012 is making its way around, and the conference isn’t really as expensive as I thought it was, and New York City is much closer and more possible than the west coast, and the thought of spending three days surrounded by other people who have found their community online and don’t see anything strange about that seems wonderful. Even if I am a mess meeting new people. Even if I’ll have a 7 month old then and would feel super-guilty leaving his or her unweaned buns at home.

Any of you going to BlogHer? If you’re a SAHM, do you find it difficult to maintain friendships with people who don’t wear yoga pants all day every day as a matter of course? Or vice versa, if you work outside the home?

 

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Responses

  1. This: “it’s the single hardest thing about being a stay-at-home mom, the isolation” – so true. When my two were really little, the first winter I had two under two, I was so very lonely. I would stand at the front window and watch people walk by and wish they would just come up to my door and ring the bell and talk to me.

    Now that the kids are in school I have a circle of mom friends at the school, which is wonderful. But I also rely heavily on my community of online friends. I don’t know if I’m going to Blog Her – it’s pretty far for me, so I just don’t know – but it would be so great to meet them face to face.

  2. yes! Going to BlogHer! Hope to see you there!

  3. Oh my, do I know of what you speak!
    I have been out of the “get dressed up and commute into the city workforce” for 13 years now, (6 as a SAHM, 3 working part-time and 4 working from home)and am only now getting ready to jump back in. If i hadn’t had online connections I would be stark raving mad by now. Those connections have morphed from the parenting crowd in the early days , to springsteen fan(atic)s and political people, now.
    In some ways I am dreading leaving my home to work, because I have come to rely on my “imaginary” friends.
    FWIW , I vote in favour of you going to BlogHer. I have found that my real-life connections with online peeps have been terrifically revitalizing for me.

  4. I feel like I’ve “lost” friends online as my life has become so freaking insane and I just don’t have time to be online…combined with the fact that I have no time for IRL friends…I gets it. I really do.

    Still wouldn’t do Blogher. Money I don’t have, time I don’t have and WAAAAAYYYY too many vaginas in one place for me :p

  5. I went to BlogHer ’10 and ’11. I’m not sure about ’12. NYC was a pricey flight for me in ’10 from Vancouver. But it was good. I’m not sure that going to BlogHer really helped me feel more connected to anyone online though. 4000 people are a lot of people. If you don’t go with a tribe of people already, it can be hard to break in. Not that it’s not possible. Perhaps, I’m just shier than most.

  6. I had the same trouble when referencing online friends with ‘real’ friends. People who don’t interact online don’t get it, and too often gave the impression that they saw as weird and, worse, pathetic. (I can deal with weird, but it annoys me to be seen as pathetic, and you don’t necessarily want to get into a long discussion about the nature of friendship when all wanted to do was toss out a quick observation that your online friend made about the topic you’re currently discussing with your face-to-face friend.)

    These days I skip the qualifier ‘online’ altogether, and just say “my friend Suzie in England”. I get to decide who is and isn’t my friend, after all, and what difference does it make to anyone else how we met or how we maintain the friendship?

  7. I do the same thing. “I have a friend in ____ who runs a daycare, and…”


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