What is it that makes motherhood lonely when your only child is in school?
I did not become a mother to have company during the day. My guess is that most parents-to-be don’t assess their readiness to have kids based on the desire to create fun little time-fillers, playmates, and conversationalists. Perks of the job, no doubt, but most likely not the reason people jump into the journey of parenthood.
Many mamas have jobs and careers before motherhood comes to them; I did. That said, when I finally was able to bring a little one home to love and raise, I gave up my ‘day’ job, and never looked back. The road to motherhood was a long and hard-fought one, and I wanted to make the most of it.
So when my son went to Kindergarten, I was a bit bereft. I’d spent his whole life committed to raising him and soaking him up, and while his purpose in this world isn’t to be my companion, I did miss his companionship.
When your only child goes to school, your identity changes. Even if you worked outside/ inside of the home for pay before your child went to school, and you still remain a ‘working mom,’ your role changes from that of the mom of a preschooler. There’s something about your children still being preschoolers that helps to maintain their status as ‘always your baby,’ that seems to fade a good bit as biology proves them to grow into adults!
And when your children go to school, the days of arranging playdates and meetups in the park disappear. The desire to get out and explore and meet people with your child now takes a backseat to the day-to-day structure of school, and you find yourself sitting on the other side of school emails waiting and wondering if there’s space for you there. (Tip: There always is space! Schools are so grateful for volunteers!)
It’s lonely. It’s disconcerting to figure out your new way; room mother or career? Work at home or volunteer someplace that means something to you? The choices that loom before you seem daunting, and limiting at the same time.
Before my son started kindergarten, I wondered what in the world I’d do with my time when he was in school. Friends said, “Oh, you’ll find stuff. Trust me.” I sort of shrugged their wisdom off, thinking, “Meh, maybe, but still. I’m going to be waiting for the second he gets out of school each day.”
Funny thing about the wisdom of other mothers who have been there, done that. They are often right. While I did initially find myself with a tiny bit of ‘free’ time when he was in school, I found it did quickly fill up. Whether I filled it with things I’d wanted to do around the house, but put off in favor of spending time with him or it was lunch dates with friends or opportunities brought to me by people who knew I was at a different place in life — the fact is I found myself so busy I’d often be rushing to finish so I could get to school to pick him up!
Admittedly, finding things to do to curb the loneliness often takes us out of our comfort zone, and I’ll be the first to say I do not like change at all.
But then I look at how fun and full my life is. I’m learning to accept the opportunities that come up as different seasons enter my life as just that — opportunities — and that makes my life less lonely and full of adventure.