• Pandemiployment

It's Not Lonely Being Alone

Do you feel lonely when you're alone? I usually don't. I'm an introvert, so I while I enjoy the company of others, I usually recharge solo. I love to read, and my hobbies include things like cross-stitching.

I lived alone after grad school until I moved in with now husband. Living alone is knowing that everything will be the way you left it. You don't have to get irritated over dishes being left in the sink or whatever your pet peeve is, because you left them there! It's quiet when you want it to be. No one wakes you up with an earlier alarm, or requires consultation on the day's activities. I had social interactions at work for nine hours a day, and made a few plans with friends to keep the weekends from being too quiet. By plans I mean maybe one dinner or get together. Two was a busy weekend for me.

I don't feel lonely alone.

I feel lonely as hell now.

I'm sure I would still miss Boo, had he deployed earlier, in our pre-kid days. I'm sure I would have worried more about his safety, having the mental space to think about anything other than if we are running low on chicken nuggets or diapers. There would have been nights where I wished to hell he was there to talk to, or...yeah.

To be completely honest, I would have done pretty well with that. The idea of sitting down and finishing a book in one sitting is pretty much my ideal for a weekend morning. I love long walks, so the dog would have been happy.

What I'm struggling with now, is how to survive long days where I either work or provide childcare. Yes, I do things like eat, shower, blog, wash dishes and do laundry as well, it's not a complete binary situation. I usually remember to brush my teeth twice daily. I drive between home and daycare. Let's not get nitpicky.

But what gets me are the long hours with baby and toddler alone. Boo is not here for the good parts. He can't exult with me over every little milestone (the second baby is just as exciting. You should see Daughter sit. She's so sturdy!) Son will say the most hilarious things, talking to me or playing by himself with his toys, and I want to turn and say, "Did you hear that?" Grandparents are great, but no one shares pride in the minutiae like your co-parent. Son decided to go on the "big boy" swing right before Boo deployed, and he was happy he got to see one last milestone before leaving. I know, it's just a swing. But to a parent, it's the swings of life that make the hard things worth it.

The hard times are far, far harder. The toddler temper tantrums where you're already holding a baby and can't put her down. The dark nights when you don't sleep, and you rub backs and pace and rock and there's no fellow soldier in the dark beside you, equally miserable. Having to do the toddler's bedtime routine every night by yourself. Why do they decide that's the time to get silly? Please stop jumping around half naked. Please don't play on your stool next to the porcelain throne, since you've already sillied yourself off a few times and I have nightmares of you smacking your head on such a hard object. You don't need to wash your toes after you wash your face.

The daycare run is mine alone. I live in a major city. It's a CRAWL to get to pickup.

It's so quiet at night. I sit with the baby in her high chair and convince the toddler to sit in a chair for a few minutes to eat whatever food I'm calling "dinner" that night, and it's so lonely. If I was alone I would just eat with a book propped up. Instead I'm trying to hold a conversation with someone who says that events that happened a month ago happened "yesterday."

Being alone, I would still miss the little everyday affections, the hugs and butt smacks, someone making you a cup of tea when they make one for themselves. I would just have far more opportunities to distract myself. Son may love playing with Matchbox cars everyday, but it's not really something that holds my attention. I make the requisite vroom vroom noises, but my mind wanders.

My level of frustration is so high, all the time. I'm thrilled the toddler wants to be independent, but being the one who constantly has to argue him into choosing a pair of damn socks gets old. I have this bubbling anger that I was left to deal with what was supposed to be a tough time regardless, having two little kids close in age. I had to be the pregnant one, I had to have the scarred body, AND you're not even here?!? The resentment is toxic.

I'm desperate to see people (and afraid of seeing too many, with COVID) because I just want to have a little adult conversation during my day. I put in a lot of long, lonely hours juggling two kiddos. If someone says they'll swing by at 10am on a Saturday, THRILLS. Of course, I've been up with my little loves for five and a half hours at that point. So yeah. Don't be surprised that I'm already exhausted and snapping. My kids are pretty needy (since they can't, you know, survive with me). I gave Son the exact thing he wanted and now he's having a meltdown over being given the exact thing he wanted. The dog won't stop barking at other dogs out the window, or squirrels in our tiny city yard, or someone slamming their door somewhere in our building. I'm twitching.

To me, there's alone, and there's lonely. I'm not technically alone, but I've never been so lonely.

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