I was warned of the loneliness that came with being a mother. The shot social life and fighting the crowds of faceless faces, the voices that sound the same, the park-life rich with cliches and clowns. I was told it would take some getting used to, waking up every morning, going through the motions. I was told to make friends, to get out there, to be around other mothers who might be in the same boat– paddling the same seas. Like the first day of school with babies on our backs instead of Jansports.
Except all of that made me feel more lonely. Making an effort is exhausting. Friendships are supposed to be organic. Bonding must occur over mutual interests, over books and music and favorite films.
My favorite movie of all time is Hannah and her Sisters, what’s yours?
Being a mother can at times be very lonely just like being a writer has always been. Alone all day and then at night, alone again, talking mainly to someone who doesn’t understand and then at night, talking to no one, whispering words against computer screens and characters that look back with my same eyes. But there is a fine art to being lonely, there are windows to open into the night. There are stars, the same stars that everyone with a window in her office can see.
Yesterday I took myself on a date. I took myself to see a beautiful little film about beautiful people. Lonely people who make the other feel a little less so. And I cried in the corner and no one saw. I waited for the credits to run and all of the people to file out of the theater before holding my own hand and walking myself outside into the afternoon. I took myself to the bookstore afterwards and paced the aisles with a head full of thoughts, wanting to talk to somebody. Anybody.
“Do you sell Moleskine notebooks?” I finally asked.
The man behind the counter showed me the way.
So I bought one and I wrote everything I wanted to talk about down on paper. I wrote for two hours, until it was time to go home and I felt instantly better. Less alone. Perfectly content to say nothing to anyone for an entire afternoon. And then I wondered what I would do if I didn’t write. How would I handle this? How would I embrace the feelings of being so often alone?
When I’m alone, I like to pretend I am on my own. That I am single and childless and like most women my age. I pretend to the mirror as I dab my face with toilet paper. I pretend to the spines of books as I browse through the book store. I pretend until my hours are up. Until it’s time to come home, cook dinner, get Archer ready for bed and when he’s fast asleep, open the office window to the stars.
There is an art to loneliness, of sheltering
oneself from and at the same time craving the sounds of strange voices, potential friendships or lovers or
the simplest interaction. There are a million mothers out there reaching out to
something that understands, trying to find the words to tell ourselves
everything is going to be okay, treating ourselves to popcorn in the
darkness so we might feel the presence of strangers surround us like a
hug. So we can take a moment to mourn our past. A moment to reflect, to embrace the quiet and learn to understand ourselves. Or at the very least, try.