This is why we can’t be friends

I belong to a large moms’ group and take my daughter to a lot of playdates in hopes of making friends for her and for myself. I’ve been trying really hard to make friends with other moms, but each time I hear something like one of the following quotes, it makes my brain freeze up and blink in big letters: we can never be friends.

“I was so excited to be married at 19. For my whole life, all I ever wanted was to get married and have kids. I never cared about having a career or going to college.”

“I really wanted a little girl so I could dress her up in cute outfits and put bows in her hair. I cried when I found out I was having a boy. Boy clothes are so boring.”

“My toddler has never seen a doctor in his life. We stay as far away from them as possible.”

“I’ve been pinning ideas for her first birthday party ever since she was born.”

Hearing other moms utter things like these on a regular basis makes me want to weep with despair that I will never find another mom with whom I have anything in common.

Not just a stay-at-home-mom

One of the things I’m going to miss most about being a grad student is being able to tell people that I’m a grad student. It was a way of telling people that I’m more than just a stay-at-home-mom.

When I meet other moms at playgroups, one of the questions they always ask is “do you work or stay at home?” I took pride in saying I was in grad school and telling them what I was studying. It was a way of identifying the type of person I am to other moms and seeing if it resonated with them, because it is really hard to find moms I could be good friends with. “I’m a grad student” really means “I love learning about complex things that have no bearing on everyday life. I love doing research and reading scientific papers and thinking. I’m an INTP. And if you love these things too, then maybe we can be friends.”

But now I’m just a stay-at-home-mom, and there’s no pride in being a grad school quitter. I don’t know how to identify myself as an interesting person to other moms, because it’s not as acceptable to talk about math and science and time travel at playgroups where moms usually talk about Pinterest and crafts. “Grad student” seemed like a good way to encapsulate my personality.

Someday I hope to be able to say, “I’m a stay-at-home-mom, and I’m a writer.”

Activation energy

I’m stuck in a potential well

I am a stay-at-home mom to a very high maintenance baby. I’m flying solo most of the time, because my husband’s job requires him to live at a remote camp for most of the week. Plus, I’m still a grad student with coursework to do and a thesis to write. To say I’m stressed is an understatement.

My daughter was born in the darkest week of the year, during a blizzard when the outside temperature was -40. (The blizzard started after we were in the hospital, thankfully.) I’ve always hated the constant darkness of the Alaskan winter, but this winter it didn’t even matter. She was the sun, and the darkness outside didn’t affect my mood as it usually does. Every little coo from her cute little mouth and every wiggle of her tiny toes was brighter than the brightest sunshine. The only thing I needed to sustain me was baby.

Then my postpartum hormones started to even out and I realized that I was just tired. One cannot live on baby alone. Baby gives me joy, but baby is also exhausting. I need other things in my life that give me energy.

She’s happy, I’m tired.

Years ago when I only had a full-time job and plenty of leisure time, I came up with a formula for how to spend my time: equal parts outdoor activity, learning, and art. Grad school takes care of the learning. (Supposedly. If motherhood had left me with enough brain cells to comprehend my own research. I’m told that at one time I found it fascinating.)

Outdoor activity is easy enough to come by in Alaska, but art is severely lacking in my life. I need to re-enter the world of words, music, and ideas. I need to spend more time hearing and playing music, reading, and writing. Blogging is a start, and a motivation.

Unfortunately, it takes energy to get energy. Like a chemical reaction that is thermodynamically favorable but has a high activation energy, I know that doing these things will make my life better, but it takes a lot of energy to begin.