The loneliness of the long distance mama

on

(Title apologies to Alan Sillitoe)

Readers, I’ve been feeling morose lately. I’m not quite sure why. I’m fairly sure it’s hormonal and maybe to do with those crazy chemicals rushing around my body, or work being a bit full on and then easing off, or breastfeeding slowing down a bit… or something.

In one way I’m my usual deliriously happy self. B is an absolute joy. I can’t believe I still have him, and get to be his mama, and all that stuff. I mean it’s like a little injection of happiness to every single day.

It’s not that I’m particularly unhappy with life. It’s just that now and again I feel a bit morose and this week happens to be it. Maybe it’s that the weekend went too fast, because we went to see both sets of grandparents and didn’t really get much downtime with just our little family.

Maybe it’s the work thing. Work’s going really well. I feel lucky to have landed a boss who I get on really well with and I mainly enjoy the work. But the gigantic bid I was working on hasn’t transpired yet and my boss wants me to go back to a day job (a decent job I can’t complain about – I’ve just been very full on with the bid for months and months and it takes up a lot of energy, so it feels a bit of an anticlimax to be tailing off that…)

I definitely think social media has something to do with it. I recently took a break from a big adoption group I’m very involved in. It’s something I keep meaning to write about but never seem to have the emotional energy. I’ve mentioned before that I kind of ebb and flow with it. Which makes me sound ambivalent but really it’s not that – it’s about self care and realising you can’t be on high emotional alert all the time.

The big adoption story in the news is something that those not in adoptionland probably aren’t aware of, but something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. And very upsetting to many transracial adoptees.

A couple of white adoptive mothers drove a car off a cliff, killing their six black adopted children. It transpired they had been somewhat evasive of CPS and concerns had been raised in multiple states. And one of the mothers had already been convicted of hurting one of the little girls who’d been beaten black and blue over the edge of a bathtub. Who does that to a child?

Moreover, one of the children was Devonte Hart, whose picture went viral when he was pictured crying and hugging a policeman. Anyone who knows anything about racial justice would notice the peculiarity of a black boy hugging a white policeman for the cameras – egged on by his white adoptive parents.

The more facts that come out about this story, the more hurt and triggers are piled up. As transracial adoptees we know that the narrative is heavily skewed in favour of white adoptive parents. And so much of the time that is manifested in benefit of the doubt and excuse making. It is upsetting because of the sheer amount of loss these young adoptees had. And to end their lives at the hands of those who called themselves their parents; the people who were meant to love them.

And the fact that there are many injustices still being perpetuated against adoptees, such as access to basic medical records and original birth certificates.

I guess you could say over time I’ve become awoken to these injustices. Part of me wishes I’d just stayed blissfully ignorant.

So – self care and social media. I’ve tried to take breaks but I find that it can be somewhat addictive. If I’m trying to stay away, I tend to hang out more in the Disney groups because how horrible can people be when it comes to Disney?! (It turns out you still do get mean people in all groups… sad!)

Mum groups can be one of the worst. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have felt really at odds since I went back to work and most of the mums I knew didn’t. It’s a lonely path to tread.

Mum groups online are kind of vicious. Even the ones that are meant to be non-judgemental and supportive. They have reams of nice supportive comments and then you’ll get the odd mean one, and depending on the day I find that can get me down (even though I don’t tend to post on them very often – I only try and comment supportively now and again). But anything based around an ideology, like motherhood is… well, it can be taxing.

Breastfed vs formula fed

Gentle parenting vs Cry It Out

Working mums vs SAHMs vs part time working mums

Only children vs sibling groups

It’s like everything mum related is shrouded in judgement. And maybe you join online groups looking for likeminded people because there aren’t that many in real life, but then they end up making you feel all heckled and I just wonder sometimes if it’s worth it.

Real life is another story. I do have some working mum friends because we have met other working mums through nursery (daycare). And it’s nice to see them because it makes me feel a bit less of an odd one out for working. The sad thing is, I think the SAHMs think I’m somehow competing with them or something when really I would have preferred not to go back to work! It kind of blows my mind I’ve been back for almost a year when if I’d had maternity leave like most people in the UK do, I would only just have gone back.

My NCT (antenatal) group makes me wonder as well. Out of seven mums in the only one to have gone back to work full time, and I feel like a completely odd one out. And I wonder if there’s any point in keeping on that friendship / contact when I usually end up feeling pretty negative about it.

An example (feel free to skip as I’m just venting here):

Before Christmas they wanted to have a meet up, and so I offered to book somewhere for a Christmas dinner, and we’d get the babies all dressed up and so on. They all agreed. Then when we had agreed a date, I got the details of the local pub and because it was Christmas they wanted us to pre-order, and give a deposit. Out of six other couples who had agreed, only two sent through the deposit and the other four just didn’t say anything. Nothing (on a whatsapp group). In the end I cancelled it. They didn’t even apologise. Just ignored it. In the end, the three couples who had agreed to meet had a meet up, plus one other couple. The others didn’t bother.

So now it’s April and they decided we should meet up. One of the girls (SAHM who quit her job after the baby was born and has got super involved in all the local baby stuff) decided to organise it. And found various non child friendly places. Bear in mind this involves seven kids. I found a place with a kids play area and high chairs and instead she decided we would go to a pub and the kids would just sit on our laps or whatever, and we would go for Sunday roast at the only time they have available… 11:30.

Then she says we all have to pre order and pay a deposit. Sound familiar? And of course everyone replies and says yes sure. That’s fine.

Just writing this out makes me feel super petty and ridiculous. I mean I shouldn’t even care. But I said it to T and he said he could understand why I’d feel upset. I mean the same people literally didn’t bother replying to me over the Christmas thing that they asked me to organise, and yet they’re falling over themselves to say yes to this arrangement of eating a roast on a Sunday morning. So strange.

I think maybe I’m just overly emotional lately because I don’t know what. (Hormones? Periods? I have to say I’m not happy about the Return of the Blob. It’s extremely unedifying.)

Also I had a health check at work because someone didn’t show up and the Health Champion guy really wanted someone to do it, so I did it. And I got weighed for the first time in forever and realised that I’m overweight and by way more than I want to be – 10kg minimum, and I suppose that sent me down a slight rabbit hole I had been avoiding. I finally dropped the habit of daily weighing when I was pregnant (after a slightly unhelpful obsession since my teens) and so getting back to that has mainly annoyed and upset me.

And I do wonder how much of it’s to do with breastfeeding. I have long thought it has an effect on mood. B is still nursing but less often now. Usually morning and night and I have one pumping session in between. So I’m sure that affects me. I know that pumping always made me kind of depressed and now he’s able to go longer between feeds even at the weekends, perhaps that’s depressing my mood a bit. (Don’t get me wrong. We still have fun. It’s impossible not to smile when you see a one year old’s joy on a swing.) Maybe I just need to ground myself more and try and rationalise it when I feel a bit low.

In the run of bad news, a close friend found out her husband of many years had cheated on her for the second time. I met up with her for a girly day and I just felt so sad for her. Two of my friends are battling cancer. One terminal. The world just seems kind of shitty some days.

Finally I guess I’m just feeling a bit run down and missing something. Maybe that’s it. Hay fever season is coming upon us and I feel a bit worse for wear. And I think often when you’ve been working hard and you suddenly ease up, that’s when it hits you. I feel kind of sad sometimes that I have to work and so I don’t get to see as much of my family as I’d like. I have such a wonderful time at the weekend that it maybe hits me hard when I have to go back to work on a Monday.

I don’t know what I’m hoping to accomplish with this post. I suppose catharsis.

I think what I mean to say is that I could have everything I ever wanted – and I do – but I still have down days sometimes, and today is one of them.

But right now I’m lying in bed – our superking sized giant mattress – and next to me is my little snorting baby-who’s-now-a-toddler, and further down the bed is my big boy Dog who’s turning five tomorrow, and on the other side is my partner T, my best friend, who I too often take for granted. And we are in my absolute dream apartment. I love it, with its little terrace, and summer is coming so we can spend more time outside and it’ll be lovely.

Today I have the blues but tomorrow is one step closer to the weekend…

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. mamajo23 says:

    One thing no one ever told me was weaning from bfeeding causes MAJOR moodiness and even depression. I am the happiest person I know and it made me so moody to the point I went to the doctor. Finally I figured it out. So take it easy on yourself. Your body has to adjust.

    Like

    1. Nara says:

      Yes, I heard that. I even read a blog on it somewhere that was very helpful. I’m not weaning though! Although we are going a bit longer between feeds so maybe it’s that. I’m very happy usually too!

      Like

  2. mamajo23 says:

    Also- as a SAHM- I truly never judge working moms and have envy at times. That being said- I know I am very fortunate to have this option and feel lucky. I also see how children of my working mom friends tend to be a bit more sociable and adaptable because they have early access to new care-taking environments. It seems to be a huge bonus to their development. Xoxo

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    1. Nara says:

      I totally can’t imagine you judging anyone! It does feel like there are these camps set up in the mum world though (maybe it’s just in the UK). My friends from antenatal have just dropped off and I don’t think they are really interested generally. I suppose my friends have just remained my friends from before, when I thought I might have more mum friends. I’m generally happy but I suppose the antenatal group made me feel a bit like there’s something wrong with me. There probably is! I’m a lot older than most of them also so maybe that’s it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. mamajo23 says:

        You know now that I think about it, I really never made new Mom friends either until my son started pre school. Definitely nothing wrong with you!

        Like

  3. noraibr says:

    It sounds like the mom groups you’re involved in aren’t so friendly or good for you. It’s a shame. Moms should always be supportive with each other. Hopefully you can meet some nice parents at the nursery. I am also a working mum, although I work from home most days and have more time left to spend with my 1 year old. I have to say I appreciate that balance. I love being with him but doing childcare 24/7 can be hard and dull at times. Every scenario has its good and bad things – I have to work with the background of screaming child at times and miss seeing colleagues more, for instance.
    I had no idea about the adoptee case. It is heart-rending. How can anyone hurt a child ever is beyond me, and I wonder about it occasionally since being a parent and then try to quickly get the thought out of my mind as it’s so painful to even contemplate.
    I hope you get your mood uplifted again, and perhaps get some downtime after all the hard work.

    Like

    1. Nara says:

      Hi, thanks for commenting. I used to be able to work from home mainly but now B is a year old they expect me to be back at work most of the time! It’s tiring! I get what you mean about childcare though. Perhaps the grass is always greener! I’d love to spend all my time with him but I’m not sure I could ever manage to work at the same time! Haha. He doesn’t let me have much time off! And I agree it’s nice to connect with colleagues.
      I’m sure I just need a bit more chocolate or something! Hope you are enjoying the weather if you are here in the UK!

      Like

  4. Maternally Optimistic says:

    I have managed to stay away from online mum groups. It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you are on, there will always be people on the other side waiting to say nasty things.

    I feel your pain over the whole working situation. I went back to work full time after 10 months off and it has been very difficult. Financially I had no choice, I would have loved to have come back part time but it just wasn’t an option for us. Im not sure if it was partly my guilt at going back or just the poor way that some people spoke to me but I felt everyone was questioning my decision. You would have thought I was the first person to have done this both in my social circle and in my workplace.

    I had week off work recently and the week after I felt miserable!! I should have been feeling revived from it but instead I think I had a terrible come down after having such an amazing week off with my family.

    I can also sympathise over the weight issue. This kind of falls under the whole category of trying to juggle everything. How do you fit in working full time, doing everything that you need to do around the house, spending quality time with your family, keeping in touch with friends . . . . im sure I have missed something lol so how am I also supposed to fit in exercise. It’s difficult to say the least xxx

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    1. Nara says:

      You are probably the wiser one to stay away from the groups! I do find the working mum thing hard. I suppose by its nature there aren’t many of us about to connect with during the week and it’s difficult at weekends because they are more precious somehow. I think part time may be a good compromise but that’s not feasible for us as I need to earn the money to pay the mortgage! I agree people question everything and it’s so annoying!

      I think maybe it is the constant coming back from time off at weekends that makes it difficult to adjust. I am happy at the weekends and sort of meh when I come back, even though I enjoy my job! I probably just resent that I can’t have more time off!

      Weight is such a challenge. I am sure it would make me feel better about myself if I lost a bit of weight but working full time and having limited time off means I tend to make bad (chocolate related!) decisions a lot of the time! I try not to beat myself up about it too much. It’s hard constantly comparing yourself to others though.

      Thanks so much for sympathising! I was beginning to feel like a complete whiner! 😂 xx

      Like

  5. Maternally Optimistic says:

    Aahhh sorry that huge lol xxx

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  6. TAO says:

    Big hugs, just do you, what ever is good for you in this minute.

    Like

  7. Dani says:

    I’m sorry about your flaky (SAHM) friends 😒 I don’t know for sure but I’m going to guess that they probably see time and meet ups differently because it can be any other time although that doesn’t explain Sunday roast brunches 🤨 anyway that really sucks.

    My favourite Facebook group is ‘supportive workings moms’. Yeh- ‘moms’! But I’ve found it to be mostly drama and judgement free. Sometimes I wish I could give up social media! It can be depressing.

    I hope you find that youre feeling a
    Little happier with things soon ☺️

    Like

  8. Hufflestitch says:

    Yep, I left all online mums groups and withdrew significantly from my in person ones due to judgement. People judged me for using formula and babywearing. And if I ever expressed struggle or difficulty it was met with stony silence. I did find 5 women online who have been amazing and we splintered off into our own group. Also found 2 in person mums who are equally amazing. They are out there 🙂

    All those things would make anyone feel blah!! Out of my in person mums group, 7 of us, 1 is back fulltime, 3 of us are back 5 days a week and 3 are SAHMs but 2 of those ladies plan to return soon. Mum judgement annoys me so much, we would have so much power if we all worked together!!

    Like

    1. Hufflestitch says:

      That should be 3 of us are back 4 days a week :-/

      Like

  9. sbach1222 says:

    I was annoyed just reading about those moms. I know those people too and I get super angry when they do that. Cliques don’t end in high school I guess.

    And I am in tears reading this. I feel the same way, so happy with what I have, but feel like something is still sad. And I do think it has to do with working full time, even though it is completely okay to be a working mom, I think we put so much undue guilt on ourselves over it.

    I hope you feel better soon!

    Like

    1. Nara says:

      Thank you for understanding! It does feel a bit lonely sometimes. Although my friends from before are still my friends, in the main. I guess I just thought that I would make more mum friends.

      Yes, we do go too hard on ourselves. We need to try not to do that! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  10. RJ says:

    Oh my goodness I am so saddened about the adopted children who’s parents likely murdered them and treated them so poorly. I am in Cali and I am so shocked people can be so cruel. It literally breaks my heart.

    I hope your mood improves soon. It’s hard to deal with all the emotions around breastfeeding and weaning. And not to mention all the mommy shaming that goes on. It’s so sad and unnecessary that we women are so nasty to each other.

    Like

    1. Nara says:

      Thank you… I am not weaning right now but I think the longer days at work and time between feeding does have an effect. We are going to do natural term weaning so if he decides he wants to stop then that’s cool… He doesn’t show any sign of wanting to yet!

      Yes it’s so sad about the adopted kids. It just cuts a bit close to the bone sometimes.

      Like

  11. Monica says:

    I totally feel the emotion behind this post. Motherhood is an amazing experience but the trade-offs we all make, they are TOUGH. I went the more traditional route (for our respective countries, anyway) and took the full year of mat leave, returning to work 3 days a week when AQ turned 1. I was so grateful to have this option, and would not change my decision. But still, it nearly ruined us financially. So much so that now, even with a careful budget and some income coming in, I genuinely worry whether we will be able to cover our expenses every month.

    It looks like the solution for us will be to move to a lower cost of living area (which will actually be good, as we will be much closer to family), and also for me to work full time while husband goes part time, as historically I was the main earner in our family. Part of me is excited for a new chapter in our lives, but part of me is sad that I will lose the 2 weekdays with my daughter that I genuinely treasure.

    And I hear you on the dissolution of the mums group too. I was part of a very active one when most of us were on mat leave, but it has now clearly separated into the SAHMs (who rule the roost and are still actively planning activities), the part-timers who try to squeeze stuff in when we can, and the full timers who are (by necessity) pretty disengaged. I did make a couple of close friends through the group, but it’s hard to find time to catch up with clashing work schedules and inevitable toddler illnesses, and my best friend from the group has just left town. 😐 I feel that we will still have plenty of opportunity to make mum friends when our bubs are a bit older though, as we’ll have the school/sports/music classes or whatever to look forward to! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nara says:

      ❤ Thanks so much for understanding. It's very unlike me to get so morose! I do feel a bit better, and we're even having our meet up this weekend, but I just feel weird and disengaged from them generally. I think you described it really well. I don't think any of us are right or wrong – I suppose we just have very different lives. Thanks for your perspective! xx

      Like

  12. no one can feel happy the whole time, it’s totally normal to have low phases. I would be disappointed at your mom group too about that christmas dinner thing ! I’ll be returning to work part time after 8 months. I’m in IT and I think career wise it would be much harder for me to keep up if I stayed home for much longer. My husband will also take some parental leave. The Germany women I’m friends with in my mommy group made comments about how bad it is to put a one year old kid into daycare etc already making me feel more guilty.

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    1. Nara says:

      Heyyyyy. How’s it going? I have had no time for blogging lately! I’m sure you’ve been busy… I need to catch up on what’s happening with you. The daycare thing… I think people judge no matter what you do. Parenting seems to be full of judgement! I try and ignore it, but depending on how I’m feeling, it’s hard! I did do the meet up and it was okay… Not amazing; not terrible. I don’t think I will rush to meet up with them again!

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      1. I’m good thanks! Things are a little less hectic now we’re out of the newborn phase. I still have barely any time for blogging though. My daughter is doing great, four months is a fun interactive age 🙂 The four month sleep regression is really hard though. The last month she’s been waking every 1-3 hours.

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      2. Nara says:

        Awww that sounds lovely! Apart from the sleep regression! That sounds a bit of a drain! B didn’t do that but he goes to bed really late… Everyone else has had a few childfree hours by then!

        Like

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