“I am alone. I am utterly alone.” I was 11 years old and felt seen watching Winona Ryder write these words as Lydia in Beetlejuice. Dark and brooding, befriending ghosts, feeling lost and misunderstood but longing for joy.
The longer I parent, the more I’m re-learning isolation. I am once again the lost girl feeling like I don’t fit in anywhere. It seems like everyone else is living in a different reality, and I’m over here at IEP meetings and sitting in the therapist’s office. Other people are probably getting parenting awards, and are there cookies over there? I can’t tell. It looks like trophies and cookies and everybody smiling and winning. I’m over here clutching a bunch of prescriptions to my chest like Kevlar.
A patronizing person on social media commented on one of my posts about wishing she could go back to the easy times of playdates and whining, but her kids are grown now and have real problems. There’s a lot to unpack here.
First, if I ever become that out of touch and condescending to the moms raising kids behind me, please, while you’re back there, stick a “kick me” sign on my back and let me have it. And second, she assumed I was in the playdate stage but I am not anymore and I miss it. I don’t miss the small children – so hard! Those of you in this stage are working your asses off and I see you, the hours elbow-deep in diapers, the constant assistance and attention, from teaching your littles to share toys to avoiding death from every unsliced grape or hotdog. The vigilance! The nonstop watching! I remember.
I don’t miss that. But what I do miss is the community. I know all of us miss that now, because of the pandemic, but even before Big Virus hit us in the ladynuts, I missed playdates and built-in time with other moms, from waiting rooms to sidelines to living room floors.
When my kids were little, I parented out in the open. We hung in groups and sat kids in time outs and shared parenting hacks and never worried about telling stories of tantrums and tattling. We were shameless and unafraid.
As the kids turn to tweens then teens, our parenting moves inside, behind locked doors, out of the light, away from prying eyes and wagging tongues. Our grown kids need privacy for their problems. We must keep their secrets. But our secrecy comes at a cost. KEEP READING