I think the hardest part of staying at home, even more than staying motivated, is being “on” all the time. At work, lunchtime was my sacred quiet time. I didn’t like to socialize during lunch. I took myself off somewhere quiet to read in peace. When I was on the desk I loved chatting with the other librarians, but I needed quiet downtime to myself. Now, as a stay-at-home mom, I find the downtime sorely lacking. Oh, sure, I can read during breakfast and even lunch. But that’s reading that is punctuated with, “Hey, Mom, I have a question!” (Beth’s favorite way of trying to grab my attention) or “I have a present for you, Mommy!” or even “May I be excused, please?” I would say that I don’t go for more than about five minutes at a time, all day, without dialogue with little Beth. The exception is her “quiet time,” which has replaced naptime in the afternoons. But even that requires me traipsing up the stairs every half hour or so to tell her to lower the noise level before she wakes her sister up, or to help with “wipies” (she’s gotten surprisingly good at going to the potty, but still needs help at the cleanup level occasionally). All day, every day, having the most inane conversations imaginable.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I *love* how much and how well she’s talking. I marvel sometimes at the contrast between now and last year, when she was saying only two-word sentences and maybe thirty words total, and now. She can have complex conversations, and I can truly explain things to her (although sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly what she understands). She’s definitely still at that stage where other people don’t understand all of what she says (at a guess I’d say they understand about 50%), but I understand pretty much everything just because I spend so much time with her. There are many times when she says something and I just can’t help but marvel at how well she speaks, and I can see the little kid emerging from her.
But! Toddlers are definitely a lot of work to parent. And it’s so much harder being in a new place without family or friends. I’m trying to reach out socially and find some friends, both for myself and for her (preferably mothers who have kids her age, two birds with one stone!), but it’s hard work. I joined a playgroup association online and have been in touch with two mothers with kids Josie’s age, which is great and gives me the chance to meet other mothers, but, seriously, 10-month-olds? Do not need really interesting social lives. Parents, siblings, toys, an occasional glimpse of another baby at the mall, that pretty much fulfills them. But my two-year-old craves friendship and latches on to every little girl at the park or the McDonald’s play area, *she’s* the one I’m trying to find friends for. So the playgroup association is failing me in that regard. I’m hoping for good things now that it’s September and they’re starting their “school year” schedule. Now maybe once moms have their old kids in school, they’ll want to do playgroups for their little ones. I can hope.
I’ve also joined the moms group at the church. It doesn’t start until the 16th, so after it starts I’ll post about how that went. But it should give me the chance to meet other moms and Beth the chance to play with other little kids, who should be largely around her age, since older siblings will be in school. With luck, I’ll hit it off with a few who have like-aged kids and we can arrange playdates. Oh, I hope! I’m definitely lonely at the moment, only having made one local friend (from the playgroup, a woman with a son Josie’s age).
I don’t mean this post to sound depressing, or to sound like I am, because I’m really not. I’m not a huge extrovert, so while I can describe myself as “lonely,” that doesn’t mean that I’m dwelling on it or anything. I have a whole house to organize–which has got me rather overwhelmed, but I’m working on that–and kids to care for, great new books to read, a computer game to play, a blog to update, and a novel to write. So there’s a lot to do and I’m generally feeling pretty good about the move. I’m just hoping to get moving on the social scene and *not* isolate myself, and I know that getting busy on that front right away while I have the “hi, I’m new” thing going for me is the best way to go. So, wish me luck!