But What If All the Villagers Work Full Time?

Today’s therapy session went well. Although, I really have no idea what “well” means when it comes to therapy. Basically, she got to know me better. We discussed the way I felt after Emory was born. We discussed the miscarriage and how that experience changed me. We discussed infertility. We discussed how I feel about introducing another person to Emory, how I feel about having another child at all. Everything went smoothly, as expected. But at the very end of our session she said something that has me thinking long and hard.

“I’m worried about your lack of a support network.” She said. “You need support, live support.”

“How do I go about doing that?” I asked, more to myself than to her.

“Well, there are ways.”

Are there? I thought. Because I’m not so sure.

I’ve been here before—the weeks and months following the birth of Em, the fact that I had no one to talk to during the day. I would watch the sun rise on one side of our railroad apartment and then set on the other, ignoring the fact it was overhead all day long. I just waited. For what? I had no idea. But I waited for something.

Today it occurred to me that this lack of a “support network” is what got me into trouble the last time. I simply didn’t have one, leaving me isolated. I was/am a SAHM. Most all other parents in this neighborhood work. It’s that simple. I don’t know the exact percentage of mothers here who work, but given the number of nannies I’m often surrounded by, I know that we are a very, very small minority. I’m guessing maybe 5% of the parents in this area stay at home with their children. Maybe.

(Please note: I am not complaining about my situation. On the one hand I am very, very lucky. I get to stay home with my kids! My husband makes enough money for me to stay home. That’s awesome. But it has its downside. I’m often alone. I work alone.)

I’m facing isolation again. And she made that abundantly clear today. I will need to work super hard at finding a support network. If I do not, I risk becoming more depressed. THIS is something I can grab onto. This is, I guess, what therapy is all about: taking note of a past problem, accepting it, and then trying to figure out a way to avoid repeating said problem.

My homework is to find a “live” support network. Meaning, not an online one. That means I can’t rely on forums, blogs, things like that. And she’s absolutely right. As amazing as online support is (and has been) for me, it isn’t enough. People need face-time, a voice, the occasional hug.

So, I’m doing some real thinking today, hard thinking. And I know exactly what I need to do and where I need to begin. Today I’m going to start working really hard at getting some bitches fired.


  1. HAHAHA! I love the end to this. If I weren’t in Canada I would totally be your face-time friend, if that doesn’t sound to stalker-ish :) I am a SAHM too, the problem is, alot of SAHM types are weirdo, hippy, homeschool only crazies in my town…I struggle to find people as ‘normal’ as myself…assuming I am normal. Good Luck!


  2. Well, two things come to mind. One, is that even the moms with jobs outside the house in your social circle (or even your neighborhood) probably would relish some face-time with fellow moms, even if it’s after hours or on the weekends. Also, you might be seeing a lot of nannies but that doesn’t mean all the working moms work full-time. Maybe you can find some part-time-working friends and start there?

    And although I’d have a hard time following this homework too (since I’m pretty picky about who I call my friends) but maybe you can use the digital village to find the analog one? Are there any meetup groups in your area for stay-at-home moms? Even if you don’t form fast friendships with all of them, even meeting up at a coffee shop once a month with some like-minded spirits might yield you one or two real friendships with people in the same boat as you. If nothing else, you can look at it as release valve time on some of the things you’re feeling, with other people who (hopefully) can sympathize in a non-judgmental way, and it’s okay if that’s their only role.

    That said, I know I’m not a mom so I might not understand the ins and outs of fellow-mom friendships. But speaking as someone who survived an incredibly tough past year with a heaping dose of talk therapy, I can say that being in therapy is an excellent approach, and you have the right attitude about it – identifying weak spots or tough periods and finding coping mechanisms for them. Bravo!


  3. I work outside the home, but when my baby was first born and I was on maternity leave I got a small taste of what that was like. I took a lot of walks, and we joined an ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) group for people with infants, which was nice. It met once a week for about an hour, but it gave you some face time with people who have kids the same age as yours. In fact, I was going to sign up for the next one (babies 6 months+), but it is held during the day, so I can’t go. Maybe that is something you can look into, if you have that kind of an organization in your area (ours is organized through the school district, actually).
    Good luck, and good for you for tackling this head-on!


    1. Krissa: Thanks for the feedback. I think I’m on the right track and I think things will go better this time. I also don’t want anyone to think I have NO mom friends. I do! But the idea is to have some to hang out with during the day when I’m at home with a newborn in the dead of winter. :] That’s the tricky part. I know moms and the evenings are totally doable same with the weekends. It’s those long, lonely days that I dread.

      And, yeah, what you said about picking friends? I tend to be picky as well. But I’m willing to overlook things just to have someone to chat with.

      Becky: I’ll look into that! I am not sure if it’s offered around here, but certainly SOMETHING is.

      Lastly, I am not opposed to hanging out with a non-parent caregiver, for the record. But I often don’t speak their language. It’s trying. And believe me, I’ve tried. :]


  4. I’m not a mom and you haven’t previously known me in the face-to-face but I am in close-ish proximity. Remember ages ago when I told you I’d document how I weirdly roll up a magazine to hold it in one hand and read on the subway? I never did that. But we could meet at a coffee shop or something and I could show you in person.

    Or, you know, we could just talk about normal things.


    1. Kizz: you like babies? :] How about diapers filled with poop? If you said yes to these two questions, I’ll take it!


  5. Just a suggestion . . . do you need to limit your support to another mother or someone of similar age? I was just thinking how nice it might be to find an elderly woman that lived nearby who was still vital but maybe lonely and hook up with her. She could give you conversation, tea, love and you could give her time with small children, attention and revitalization. Just a thought.


  6. I appreciate the suggestion and I love the elderly, but the mere thought of spending my time postpartum with two babies, three cats and a local elderly woman makes me want to commit myself now.

    I think the point is to have peers to hang out with, other moms around my age. People who can relate to my current situation and maybe even take the baby for an hour so I can have some me time.

    Besides, I’ve got older ladies to hang out with! My mom and her crazy awesome sisters are wonderful. I fully intend to put them to good use. I love them. But, yeah.

    There’s a local woman here who stands on the street corner and screams obscenities at everyone in Polish. She’s completely batshit crazy. I should invite her over! It’d make for a GREAT reality TV show.


  7. Hey dude.

    I have been there, myself. I found it a lot less cumbersome the second time around. Probably because my older kid was at preschool daily. It forced me to at least get out of the house every day and feel like a real human being and say to the friendly people also picking up kids at preschool, “Hi!” That made a big difference. I never found a “mom group” that I fit in with. I tried some of the playgroups and all that, but just never found my niche. So I did a lot of online support + just the human interaction element that is forced by taking care of an older kid… combined, it was enough for me. I hope you have success finding (or founding!) a specific group though. If not, don’t fret. It’s so much different with round 2. Not nearly as isolating.

    You can always chat with me, though I know I don’t really qualify since I am not three dimensional all up in your space. You know where to find me.


  8. Snow! Hello! Such a long time. Gonna email you for your number if ya don’t mind. :)


  9. Oh! Homework! I love homework! I wish I were in NYC and not Vancouver so I could help you get a stellar grade…

    In all seriousness, good luck. This is so, so important. I am not a mother, but I have suffered from depression for most of my adult life, and therapy was amazing for me. It taught me so much about how to deal with the depression, and I really hope it has the same benefits to you post-partum.

    Can I also just say (again) how grateful I am that you discuss these issues? My husband and I are finally ready (both physically AND emotionally) to try for a baby after suffering an ectopic in the summer. One of the things that has always scared me about becoming pregnant – which was only reinforced after my ectopic experience – is that my depression might become a big factor. My doctor has been great at providing information about this issue (and I work in medical research at a Women’s hospital), but it is wonderful to hear from a non-medical pregnant woman about these issues. Makes it seem a bit less intimidating.


  10. Do they have postpartum moms groups in your neighbourhood? Places to take take the big kid to play while the moms hover? Fitness classes where there is childcare available for older kids? (I had to try REALLY hard to make mom friends b/c it’s not something I’m naturally good at… and I found the “groups” really helpful as far as just having someone (anyone) to talk to during the day.)

    Best of luck!


  11. 1st time commenter, but I just had to chime in since my therapist has been telling me the same exact thing. I don’t have a newborn, but my developmentally-delayed toddler is kicking in a lot of the same issues with me, especially now that I’m out of work and at home all the time. (Ugh, just reading that sentence makes me sound like the most pitiful person ever.)

    Anyway, I’ve been working on the Network thing. I am in a new place so it’s a challenge. I have 3 friends now, which I consider a big step. I met one online. I met one from my book club. I met one while taking my kid to the library.

    I wish I could say there’s one way to make this work, but I obviously haven’t found it. Still, I’m finding it has a lot to do with making an effort. I’m scheduling playdates and museum trips and we’re actually doing something. Obviously that’ll be a no-go with a newborn but eventually you’ll want it and a friend will be crucial.

    I’d agree with the people who mentioned meetup groups. Even if they’re not mom groups. That’s how I met my friend from book club. It’s a lot harder with the abundance of nannies around, but I’m betting there’s a substantial SAHM element around if you seek it out.

    Just wanted to say I get it. And good luck.


  12. I went to my mama’s group this afternoon and it was so nice to have peers with whom I could relate and babble. I am so thankful that I lucked out and met them about a year and a half ago (through a birthing center my sister used). I really hope that with all the great advice you are getting from therapy and your readers, you will find the determination and drive to find your “group-o-mamas.” I can’t imagine getting to this place as a mom, with a 2 yo with major eating and sleeping issues, PPD and high stress in our personal life without my support group of moms. If you find the right group they will support you when you are struggling, even if it just means bitching for an hour, in 18 second tidbits. It’s way too easy as SAHMs to retreat into our own little worlds, avoiding commitments to other peoples’ schedules. Meanwhile, we are consumed with how to get through the day by attempting to meet our family’s food, sleep, health, hygiene, environmental, emotional and physical needs, not to mention sexual needs, and it’s hard to remember to accommodate our social needs as well.

    When you do your searches into groups and how to meet in person, it seems like you might find some mama’s through your food passions or Etsy. Just a thought….


  13. I felt exactly the same way after my daughter was born. Just making it through the days was a lonely challenge, full of tears. Finally, there was a new mom’s group in Park Slope I started heading to once a week – and then met up with those moms another time each week. At least 2 social outings that turned it all around in the dead of winter for me but it was touch and go before that.
    Also – Em will be around after school now so it will be much less lonely!


  14. It took me a minute to get the last sentance, but it’s hilarious. Let’s hope none of your neighbors read your blog so they don’t know it’s coming.

    It is really hard to make friends as an adult. I’m Catholic but I don’t want church friends because the last time I did that they were a little too holy for me. I knit, but I don’t seem to be alternative enough for the knitters groups I’ve seen OR I’m not a mom or grandma so I don’t fit in either. I lucked into a group of friends when I lived in The South; but here, in my hometown it’s been hard to find adult friends.

    Good luck, seriously.


  15. You are hilarious! And so, so smart to begin building that network before the baby is born. Storytime at the library was a great source of comfort for me … as has been connecting with other mom bloggers in my area. There are five of us expecting babies within the next six months, and it sure helps to know that I won’t be the only one homebound with a newborn. Good luck finding your village!


  16. Michele, check out the 14th Street Y. I went to a new mom’s group there several times after Cole was born and it was great. I think it’s in the mornings so it could be when Em is in school. Seriously seriously, look into it. They do pilates (or some exercise) first (with babies) for an hour maybe, and then a “support” group after led by a real live therapist who was amazing. Had we not been planning to move, I totally would have kept going as I clicked with a few of the moms and all the babies were right around the same age. I know it involves subway travel but it’s just one stop. And the Y is right next to the stop. Hope that helps!


  17. It absolutely helps! And I absolutely will.

    Thanks, Mer!

    Hey, Mel: we are still well pastdue with hanging out. :) Expect a call or email soon.


  18. She’s totally right. While the online community rocks mah socks, nothing beats meeting a friend for coffee and real live hugs.
    Is there any mom and babies groups in your area?
    What about local libraries that host mom and baby readings? Or indoor mom and baby exercise classes or swimming lessons?
    I had agoraphobia on top of the PPD so it was my psychiatrist appointed homework to join groups in the community. It did make a difference.
    Hugs Momma


  19. These are the groups I joined after we moved from CA to PA:
    MOMS Club
    La Leche League
    Attachment Parenting group via

    The only thing we went to in CA was a new mom’s group, and LO had aged out.

    You might be able to find a prenatal yoga class that will shift into a mom/baby class. If your older child is old enough for other parent/child classes, you could try that, assuming you can bring the baby along later. Our local storytimes aren’t friendly towards mixed age groups, so that might not work.


  20. And did you see this from today? It mentions a local mom’s group, but you might already know of it.


  21. Hadn’t seen it!! Totally going to find these folks. :) they talked about the indoor playroom we practically live at now.

    Awesome. Thanks!! (hadn’t heard of bambino either.)


  22. Hi,
    Know you from dooce =)
    I dropped in to see how you were doing and this post just hit me in the heart.
    I am alone 5 days and nights a week with no family around and it is starting to get to me. It is winter and cold and there are not many SAHM around. I created a playgroup and put up signs in cafes and libraries and not one single response.
    There are 2 moms on our street one SAHM and one part time with second baby born 3 days ago. I have tried my best to become friends but to no avail. They both have lots of family around and it seems ppl already have enough friends at this age (32).
    I feel so alone and discouraged and well, a failure not for myself but as a mom trying to give my child the best of life.


  23. This has nothing to do with your post. I just saw this and thought you might enjoy it, if you have not already seen it.

    I hear you about being isolated. I have two kids and the second was so less isolating. You had to get out for the first so I was so motivated.

    My family has PPD really badly. Omega oils seems to help some. And acknowledgemant.


  24. I often met new moms or new moms with an older child at the library or bookstores. In fact, I met one of my best friends at the library following the birth of my second child, while taking the older one to story time.

    I felt like I connected with some moms and not with others. That is the way it goes, but it was always good for a cup of coffee and some conversation at the bare minimum. I have one friend from my new mom days in NYC who is a Jamaican nanny whom I adore, too.

    You don’t need 95% of the moms who work for support. (Mathematician, I am not!) You just need one or two of the other 5%.


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