Friday, April 12, 2013

I am Lonely

I've been in a total funk, probably for the last two weeks.  I've been racking my brains to figure out what my problem is, and I don't want to just chalk it up to the fact that I haven't lost weight these last two weeks, either.  I'm not that shallow...right?  I should be able to take the ups and downs of this health/weight loss journey in stride--I'm a smart girl, and I know things like this are rarely easy, and require a lot of time, work, and commitment.  So I've been searching for some other reason, and I think I finally hit on it last night--it's a sentiment I've expressed many times before, but I hadn't realized that it applies right now.

I'm tired (that's a given--I have three kids).  Despite a cleaning schedule, I'm really behind on all my housework (also a given, considering that again, I have three kids).  I get stressed out when I'm tired and behind on my housework (that is to be expected).  These things have contributed to my less-than-stellar mood lately, but there's one thing that really puts it over the top for me, and I expressed it to Dan last night when he informed me that he would be doing work after the kids went to bed:

Dan:  "So, we have Modern Family on tonight?"
Me:  "No, it was on last night, but we didn't get a chance to watch it because you went for a run after the kids went to bed."
Dan:  "Right--I mean we're watching it tonight."
Me:  "Yes."
Dan:  "Okay, well, as soon as that's over, I'm going to get some work done."
Me (shoulders sagging, visible change in demeanor...followed by a long pause, and then blurting out the first thing that came to my mind):  "I AM LONELY!  It's really hard.  This"

For those of you who don't get my So I Married An Axe Murderer reference, here's a crappy video so that you can fully appreciate my cadence (and desperation).

I am lonely.  There it is.  I masked the seriousness of the feeling with a quote from one of our favorite movies, but I am lonely.  It feels more potent the last two weeks (maybe longer) than it has in the recent past, because Dan went out of town on a trip that last year, we were able to take together--a mini-vacation away from the kids that did wonders for me.  I slept in, sat in a hotel room and read books on my Kindle while Dan was in meetings, and he and I had meals out without children interrupting us, and late-night runs for ice cream like we used to.  It was glorious, and refreshing.  Not to mention the actual road trip--I love road trips!  Nothing better than singing along with the radio, sitting next to my best friend, talking or not talking for hours on end.  It worked out great last year because Dan's business trip coincided with Abby's spring break, so I could leave the kids with my parents for a few days and not worry about burdening anyone with our crazy daily school schedule.  This year, we didn't get so lucky--his trip was the week after her spring break, and also started on Easter Sunday...totally poor planning on both fronts.  So I stayed home with the kids (as I should have), but I couldn't help feeling sad about missing the time away with my husband--and missing out on that time to reconnect.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--Dan and I have a difficult time balancing the demands of our jobs and our kids with our relationship to each other.  The constant presence of children totally affects our interaction with each other--it almost feels like a business relationship sometimes, because when we see each other, we're throwing out dates for doctor's appointments, school commitments, and the day's happenings over the din of three kids and us trying to make dinner.  Okay, not many businesses run that way, but you get what I mean.  We have a hard time finding time for us in this crazy, full life we've built together.  I know these problems are short-term, because our kids will only be young once, and when they're out of the house and Dan's retired, we'll have nothing but time for each other.  I get that.  It doesn't make my day-to-day any easier right now, though.

So we have no time for each other when the kids are around--that's just the practicalities of parental life, and I'm okay with that.  What's hard for me is that after the kids go to bed, Dan often has another agenda that doesn't involve me.  He disappears for an hour every night to decompress from his day, right after we close the last of the kids' bedroom doors--it's like he has a timer set, because it's almost always an hour, down to the minute.  He uses that hour check his email, surf the internet...whatever, just chill.  I don't begrudge his need to decompress--goodness knows I need to as well, but...I hate that hour.  After spending 12 hours of my day in the company of id-driven children, with little adult interaction, guess what?  I am lonely.  It's really hard.  I just want to spend time with my husband.  Then inevitably, if the weather is nice, Dan wants to go for a run when he emerges from his hour-long me time--they don't do early morning PT in his current job like most military locations require, so that means he needs to find another time to work out.  He could get up early and do it then anyway, but the guy loves his snooze button--to the point where I beg him to please just not set the alarm for an unrealistic time because all it does is go off and wake the kids up, not him.  So he works out after the kids are in bed, and how can I not support his exercise time, even though guess what?  I am lonely.  If he's not exercising, he brings work home, and holes up in our bedroom while I veg out to HGTV--there's nothing more pathetic than watching an episode of House Hunters that you've already seen...but I do it, because it keeps me company.  I can't watch any of "our shows" because Dan isn't watching with me, so I have to save them for a night when he is free.  I get maybe two nights a week of actual time with my husband, which we spend catching up on the TV shows we've missed the other nights...and even on those nights, I'm still lonely.

yep, some days, I totally feel this way

This is the problem I've run into in the past--expecting my husband to fill all the voids that my lack-of-social-life provides.  He's just one guy, and although he's a great guy, he can't possibly be my only outlet--it's too much pressure for one person.  Very basically, I just need to get a life.  My feeling of loneliness is exacerbated by circumstances right now--it's the tail end of a long, dreary, stuck-inside winter (not much opportunity for mommy socializing when I'm alone in my house...); even though the weather is finally brightening up, my allergies have kicked in full force and I don't even want to think about going outside, much less actually go out; and I'm potty training Alex right now, which means long days stuck in the house, dragging a stubborn 2-year-old into the bathroom every few minutes.  I've lost entire days to the bathroom this week--it's mind-numbing, but at least the boy is getting the hang of it!  Potty training is one of my least favorite tasks of parenthood...  To keep from going out of my mind, I text my best friend in Boston countless times a day, and I call my mom at least once a day--and that's pretty much the extent of my social interaction, sadly.  Even Facebook doesn't provide me the interaction comfort it once did--I try not to spend too much time on there, since it's a massive time suck.  I had this feeling of extreme loneliness when Abby was a baby--I was home alone with her a lot while Dan was in law school or studying, and she didn't even know how to talk yet...I felt like I was going crazy, sometimes carrying on conversations with myself just to hear someone talking.  I held tons of resentment toward Dan, because he got to leave the house every day and chat with other adults.  When Abby was 8 months old, I'd had enough--I researched and put myself out there by joining a moms' group.  Best Decision of My Parenting Life, not kidding.  That group provided wonderful friends for myself and for Abby, and I discovered that I wasn't so alone in the world after all--and my resentment toward Dan melted away, because I wasn't expecting the poor guy to be my only friend in the world anymore.  That's a really tall order, and that's where I feel like I'm stuck right now.

Being a stay-at-home mom can be the loneliest job on the planet, even though it can also be rewarding and fulfilling.  Yes, I'm surrounded by children and clamor and craziness all day, but I'm navigating it mostly by myself, with no rational person with whom to step back and hash out the right course of action at any given point in the day.  It's just me, in my head all day, second-guessing myself and my parenting decisions.  It's hard to put yourself out there and meet other moms, because you run the risk of meeting moms who are cliquey and judgy...and trust me, they are out there.  I don't need that drama, but I do need to get a life, so I'm just going to have to go back out there, make friends, and hope for the best.

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