For all its wonderful aspects, being a full time parent can be rather lonely at times. I originally had these feelings quite early on in my tour-of-duty, but never quite got around to writing about them; quite possibly because of the amount of self pity that these feeling evoke within me. I mean, life is all about making of it what you will. If you choose to be lonely then so be it; you don't have to be lonely, it's a choice. And that is where the self pity comes in: whoa is me, I'm so lonely because I never go out of my way to see people. Kind of pathetic really.
Yes there are absolutely things that must be done everyday (playing with baby/toddler, cleaning, cooking, feeding baby/toddler, dropping off and picking up school kids, taking aforementioned school kids to numerous after school activities etc), and a lot of those things eat into your time which in turn eats into your ability to have a social life. But in contrast Lord Vader and I have never been huge believers in allowing the kids to dictate everything in our lives. For example, if we want to go to Rutherglen to the wineries for a weekend, well we will, and we'll bring them along. OK, maybe that is an extreme example, but its the same in a normal day: I want to have lunch with friends, I take the toddler and she copes, and I meet friends. Yes its different to going sans-toddler but it still means I get to socialise.
I think one of the reasons in feeling lonely and even unliked and depressed is all about those mundane activities and the routine that I fall into. Often it feels like my days blend into one another. I do the same sorts of things everyday and its hard to get myself to break the cycle of the mundane. Essentially it becomes too much of an effort to go grab a coffee with someone or have lunch, especially if you have to invite yourself. And no I'm not looking for a flood of invitations from my friends who'll read this, I'm explaining how I feel at times of great self pity.
In fact I have a great group of friends who go out to lunch almost every day, and I have a standing invitation to join them. Partly through not getting back into the social lunching after school holidays (because I wasn't taking three kids to lunch during school holidays, that is just a pain), and partly due to the mundane necessities of my life, and quite possibly due to my own apathy, I haven't caught up with them for many months.
You know what, there are other ways to socialise too. The internet is a wonderful tool. Social media tools, email, chat, skype, they're all great ways to stay in touch. Although they can be a trap too, because you feel that you're interacting but you're probably multitasking on the computer/tablet/phone whilst waiting for a response, or you just ignore the response and get back to it in your own time. Really nothing can replace a face to face chat, mainly because there is no delay in a response, and because you're actually sharing time with someone. Oh and there's the phone too! Funny thing about phones, nowadays you use them to send texts, check social media, write emails, play games, surf the net etc, but they're not really used to talk to people any more: their prime purpose has become almost irrelevant. The other day I was chatting to a friend online and he asked 'you home?', to which I replied 'yes', then the phone rang. He just realised the ridiculousness of a long drawn out chat session when both our attentions were actually on chatting to one another and called me. We ended speaking for half an hour, it was marvellous! I strongly recommend actually calling someone. Who would have thought its a really great way to communicate.
I mentioned feeling unliked, and to touch on it, because it is an extremely negative feeling, which is also completely baseless as I have plenty of friends, it's really about me not making the effort. When you're somewhat removed from your normal environment you become very much out of sight out of mind. It's normal, it happens. People by nature best deal with the others who are often in their day to day lives (I wanted to write 'sphere of influence' but that was too wanky even for me). I made a choice which effectively took me out of other people's day to day lives. Do they like me less because of it? No, not at all. But they don't need me as much as I need them, because they have other people to socially interact with. Ultimately being lonely is about not having as much social company as you want. Again, being lonely is a choice you make. If you don't like it go out and see some friends.
So why did I choose to write this post now? Well yesterday I had my very first (yes that's right, first) coffee (well hot chocolate) with a friend. It was fantastic! We bumped into each other last week and organised a coffee for this week. It was brilliant to just chat and chew the fat. The cutest one didn't mind at all. She had a couple of biscuits and was happy just wandering around close to me and without annoying any other patrons (something I'm always worried about with her as a toddler, and possibly another reason I rarely have been to lunch with friends in the last couple of months. They are so much easier when their not mobile!). Thinking about how much I enjoyed chatting with a mate made me realise why I've been so lonely, hence the post.
And then of course you make a rod for your own back: time to watch the cricket.