I have three here. THREE. (And one likely wouldn’t even qualify as a friend as we would make no effort to connect to each other if not for the shared activity of our children.) But then I haven’t gone out of my way to make them, and I’m not the sort anyway to collect them. Even in graduate school, when almost every person there seemed similar enough to forge a friendship (aside from a few very brilliant and confident or strange ones), I only had a group of about twenty people I’d see on a regular basis outside of classes and work. Here, especially, though, it seems harder for me. I feel as I did in high school, that the people who surround me and who share life circumstances with me are fundamentally different. They have other things that define their lives besides motherhood, or they are more into collecting luxury goods, or their brand of Christianity defines them through and through, or they are not the sort to dwell on things or analyze each parenting decision, or they are a bit too boastful of their own children.
I talk to one grad school runner friend at least once a week, about everything, parenting, her divorce, her in-laws, her budding relationship, and I’m of course genuinely happy that she’s head-over-heels in love, but at the same time it leaves less for us to discuss. What can I say except that I’m happy for them beyond words? But then I guess I had the same feeling when she was in the early stages of separation with her husband. What was there to say except that things were terrible and would get better. She was in a similar position for me when I was on bed rest after losing Baby B, but she seemed to navigate that awkward position with more grace.
I email several from graduate school, but we’re all similar personality types; we want intimate conversations or nothing, so the thought of updating our lives in an intimate way becomes exhausting and time-consuming.
I don’t update my life on social media, I don’t post pictures of myself or my children or my house. It feels superficial, pandering, uncomfortable, and I found that it breeds more dissatisfaction for me than connection.
I send my parents several pictures and videos of the girls almost daily, text with my mother back and forth almost every night.
Beyond that, I live my life largely in isolation. My conversations during the day are with my children, some pleasantries with the teachers at Elena’s school, neighbors I happen to see, other children when we’re out and about, workers coming to clean the gutters or windows, and Ryan of course depending on when he gets home from work.
I try so hard to keep things humming along (floors and counters clear of crumbs, hands washed and hair combed, meals and snacks relatively healthy, naps on time and diapers dry, exercise and productive activities for all) that I sometimes miss out on the moments that all of this background preparatory work is only supposed to scaffold: Elena and Lila laughing and playing together, Elena collapsing into my arms in giggles, Lila beaming to see her communication get through to me. These moments seem to make up like the slimmest sliver of the pie chart of my day even though everything else is white noise. And then, even less than that slimmest sliver, is the time that I devote to my friends.
I’m not sure what the point is here, except that I’m lonely when I think about it, but often I’m so busy that I don’t.