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Any SAHDs feel alone?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm a first time SAHD to a beautiful 7mo. DD. I'm also a wedding photographer and work some weekends but have tons of post production I have to do on my computer at home whenever I can find the time. I used to be a bartender and, though I don't really miss the customers or the dynamic, this is really the first time in my life I've felt incredibly isolated. Well, that sounds a bit dramatic and I only feel that way sometimes but it does happen. I love being a SAHD so much but when the loneliness creeps in you can feel pretty, well, alone.

What makes this feeling of loneliness much more unbearable than it might otherwise be is the fact that my friends live an hour away, as do my sister and my dad. My wife and I have an understanding that I should have one night a week where I can get out and socialize but that maybe happens only once a month because our DD isn't a good sleeper and my DW is up most of the night feeding her then getting up at 5 am to get ready for work. She also takes care of DD while I photograph weddings about twice a month. So I feel like I really need to give her a break as often as possible. When I do get out I sometimes don't have the energy to travel the two hour round trip to see friends and family. Also, my bed time is around 10 pm these days.

I know there are parenting groups out there, there's even a local dads group I found but they only get together when DD has her morning nap. Also, they tend to mostly talk sports which I'm not interested in. Then there are the moms groups. I haven't tried to approach one but I do get the sense that if I did it would be weird. I don't know, maybe it wouldn't, but when I'm out at the park or at the library with DD there is the feeling of being an outsider. On one occasion at a library "cuddle and read time" a mom introduced herself and we started talking about our kids briefly before I had to leave. It felt slightly awkward to me because that's never happened before but it also felt great, like maybe I could make a friend. About a month later I spotted her and her DD at another library and struck up another conversation but this time I got a weird vibe like she thought I was hitting on her or something. This could of course just be in my head, but it does seem easier, socially, for females to be stay at home parents.

This all came crashing down on me earlier today as I was driving my DD down for a nap (she's teething now and will only go down for naps in the car or with DW's boobs). After she fell asleep in the car I found a nice, shady place to park and read until she woke up. Just as I parked I saw a group of moms jog by with their strollers, laughing and having a great time. There I was, like every other day, just me and my book. As that spot I chose to park began to loose its shade I decided to move to another spot in a nice, quiet neighborhood near where I live. I was parked for about a half hour with DD asleep, reading my book, when the lady who lives in the house I'm parked in front of comes up to the car and says "You're making me really nervous sitting here in front of my house". By the time I tried to quietly explain to her that I was trying to let my daughter sleep, DD had woken up as if a bomb had gone off, screaming and crying. I drove off immediately but was unable to get DD back to sleep. I understand where this lady is coming from but couldn't help feel that the same situation would not have happened if I were a woman. Now I know women have it tough, my DW probably has it tougher, but this did affect me. I mean Christ, here I am, a caring SAHD just trying to get my DD some decent nap time and I'm treated like a potential criminal.

Anyway, enough of my rant. Are there any other SAHDs who feel the same or am I being too sensitive? Any suggestions?
post #2 of 14
I am a SAHM right now but I am pretty socially isolated so I understand where you are coming from (a little) in your post. My DH has been a SAHD in the past as well so he would probably better understand your issues but he doesn't belong to mothering.com.

Would there be any way to find something to do locally for one night a week to make some friends closer to home (I tried to get my DH to do a snooker league when he was a SAHD for awhile but he didn't enjoy that so he just suffered through it but he did feel very cut off. He did go to quite a few playgroups though and I think it helped even though it was all women other than him. Other than that I don't have any constructive suggestions for you but I wanted to give you some support.

post #3 of 14
While I'm not a full-time SAHD, I do from time to time have the opportunity to do that, but my son is too little for outings other than the grocery store.

I can see what you're saying about feeling left out as a SAHD, but I wouldn't dismiss the fathers group just because they talk about sports. Just because they like sports doesn't mean they don't have other interests that you might share as well!
post #4 of 14
Hey Sean,
I totally feel for you, and hear your sadness in your writing. It's like birth experiences - yes, primarily you should be grateful just to be able to be with your child fulltime, but that doesn't mean you can't have any complaints! My Dh has been a SAHD for the past ~3 years to our now 3 year old and 2 year old. I'm expecting again in the spring, so he's bound for even more. I know when he gets the time he comes on Mothering, so I will ask him to come share his perspective directly. I just couldn't read without offering my support and sharing the hope that it does get better as your child gets older and your activities are more stimulating to you. The best thing that happened to our family was moving into a cohousing community. My Dh is the only SAHP there, but there are parents around off and on throughout the day and some older adults and of course the children (11 now, I think). He has such a blast there and it's made his SAHP life a dream-come-true instead of an isolating experience. I know he would sympathize with you since we lived in a typical suburb up until 9 months ago.

Good luck on finding your niche!
post #5 of 14
My dh is a sahd, and I know that he feels isolated and lonely. I also agree that it's harder in some ways for a sahd to make friends, etc. My dh was lucky enough to find another sahd in the neighborhood, and they have been helpful in keeping each other sane (somewhat ).

I know it's not the same at all, but there are a couple of really great sahd blogs I read http://cynicaldad.blogspot.com and http://mikeadamick.com

Good luck.
post #6 of 14
My husband is a SAHD and he definitely felt isolated at the beginning. Then he started taking DS to Gymboree and made friends with a couple of women and they started a playgroup together. That really helped boost his spirits and now he has lots of friends and goes on outings all the time. Most women have had no problem with him joining in.
post #7 of 14
My dh was a SAHD for the better part of a year and it was very isolating--I actually got him into some playgroups that were primarily for women--because he was very much shunned at parks and the like (what is wrong with a dad taking his kids to the park exactly!?). But as a SAHM I have also dealt with that isolation--in different ways than yourself--but it has been a very tough time finding a 'fit'. Unfortunately we were never able to find many SAHDs but we keep trying. I will get dh on the comp tonight so he can offer his perspective.

Hugs!! And I think being a SAHD is awesome btw
post #8 of 14
When I was a sahm, I got into early childhood classes at our school district. I also was involved in LLL (not really an option for you) but I started a yahoo group to meet in various parks in the area and play in the park with kids of all ages (and their parents)

Maybe something like that would work for you. DP says that when he was a sahd, he met other sahds at the zoo and parks and they started up a regular group.

Hugs to you and just know that this phase of your children's lives is so important, but won't last forever.

Good luck!
post #9 of 14
im a sahm, and i totally hear you on the isolation thing... dont count out the moms groups tho -- i'd totally welcome a dad at playgroups a lot easier than i would a dad at the park (which, you've made me rethink an encounter at the park where i would have sworn was a hit on) ...but anyway... dont think the parking thing is a sexist thing. i was parked in front of a house to nurse ds, and i think the lady in the house was calling the cops on me ...
post #10 of 14
awww, big to you!

i don't have any advice, but you sound like such a great daddy, and if you lived near me, i'd invite you to all my playgroups! i'm so sorry you're feeling this way. isolation with a little one is the worst.
post #11 of 14
Then there are the moms groups. I haven't tried to approach one but I do get the sense that if I did it would be weird. I don't know, maybe it wouldn't, but when I'm out at the park or at the library with DD there is the feeling of being an outsider.
My dh has the same problem, big-time. I even called some local playgroups and they would not allow my dh to join. I called to sort of break the ice, you know? So they didn't just write him off right away. But I was given all sorts of excuses, from "We're full" to "We don't accept men into our group" to "I've spoken with the women in our group, but your dh may be a child molester so we can't allow him to join."

Fortunately he hasn't felt the same isolation as you, or at least not as strongly. He has a couple good friends he talks to on the phone about once a week and we try to organize an adult sort of party at our house once every few months. Neither of us have any local friends, so generally we get all our socializing just between us and some family that's nearby. He also talks to his mom a lot; she's always been a big chatter/caller and I think he welcomes it a bit more now that he's a SAHD.

I think things will get better and easier as your dd gets older. Dh also doesn't really "do" sports, so a bunch of sports talk wouldn't get him anywhere in terms of social interaction.

Just wanted you to know you're not alone. There are other men out there dealing with the same things. I hope things get better for you, and I'm sorry I don't have more suggestions. We are dealing with a lot of the same things ourselves.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Wow, I wish you were all in my neck of the woods. Thanks so much for the support and well wishes, it really helps. I LOVE the idea of a co-housing community. My DW and I have frequently talked about something like that for the future. I used to work at summer camps and lodges, most recently at Denali National Park in AK, and I loved the sense of community amongst the employees. Everyone lived together and there was always someone to talk with and do something with. Not that I need to always be around people, in fact I relish my time alone more than anyone I know, but it's always nice to be able to be around friends who can relate to what you're going through.

I did recently join an attatchment parenting group and will join them at the Oakland Zoo next week. I'm really looking forward to it. I can relate to the poster about finding the right "fit", that's important if the contacts you make are to be of much importance in your life. I think this group will be great actually.

The kid's going nuts so I've got to sign off. Thanks again so much for the support!

post #13 of 14
I'm a sahm and I feel your pain--even though I'm not a man. You described talking to a mom and then later seeing her again and how she bolted (and you assumed it was because she might have thought you were hitting on her). This happens between women, too. I often wonder why. It's not about the hitting on part--but sometimes (well, maybe often) women feel competition between each other and what might have been neutral territory before (shopping mall, etc.) may not work if the other person is there with friends or whatever. It's awkward and unfair but I've seen it happen. It reminds me of high school stuff, too. There are few things that might be going on--she could have been in a hurry or maybe she didn't remember you. I will say this--if I were you, I'd say right up front--in a conversational kind of way--I feel so awkward being a sahd with so many women! But my WIFE and I agreed that this was the best thing for our family. And somehow tie into the conversation your wife, etc. That should stop any 'hitting on you' vibes--yk? I mean, you can say right up front: hey remember me? I'm the stay at home dad who is doing his best to keep up with all the sahms! Obviously you don't want to continue your conversation in the third person, but something light and upbeat to just kind of say: Hey, I'm not hitting on you!
But honestly, you don't need a new friend like that.

I think isolation is the nature of the beast when the kids are babies. For me it was hard to do anything with a nursling and a toddler--everything took a thousand hours to do, nursing kept me in a lot, the heat, the cold, etc., kept me indoors and I didn't do a lot of stuff during cold and flu season. Nap schedules also kept me away from others a lot. After a while, you settle into it--a learning curve if you will, as if this were a new job.
These things kept me sane: a jogging stroller, renting a movie now and then, internet communities and calling friends on the phone.
What made things worse is that we moved to a new city when my ds was a newborn baby. That was a drag.

Re: the woman who commented on you sitting in front of her house. I would explain to her what you are doing--if she was a mom, she's probably done that herself (I can't tell you how many country roads I've driven all in the name of a nap). Maybe there is a space that is a little more isolated? In this day and age, I guess we are all on our guard.

Best of luck to you. Be patient with yourself. I have found that now that my kids are older and getting ready to go to school that I enjoy parenting much more--although I do get nostalgic for those baby days--and I never thought that I would!
post #14 of 14
DH is a SAHD and he has a lot of hobbies ond has online friends. I think what keeps him fram being lonely is the fact that he's pretty antisocial an a homebody anyway.
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