I hadn't really felt the isolation that other mothers talk about until last week. It was interesting to experience it, so I thought I would share.
Last Monday was my birthday. I am, by my own admission, a pretty 'look at me, look at me' kind of person. Usually my birthday was either celebrated on a school day, which meant many children, parents and colleagues wishing me happy birthday, or on a weekend day, which meant my husband spoiling me.
One year while I was teaching the children in my class organised with their parents to throw me a surprise birthday party. Not bad for 7 and 8 year olds! Another year we had our end of year shared lunch on the day, and the children all made cards for me. So I am pretty used to having my birthday acknowledged by many, which I love.
This year was very strange. I woke and fed Lily in the early hours of the morning. Then my husband woke to get ready for work at 6am. He gave me my birthday card (my present had been given already, a magazine subscription as requested), then went off to get ready for his day. I fell asleep again (hey, it is hard having a couple of wake ups in the night!) He gave me a kiss when he left and that was it - my day was ahead of me.
If I hadn't planned to meet my best friend for lunch, I could have spent the whole day at home, speaking to no one. That was a strange realisation for someone like me. I had heaps of online best wishes - facebook, the forums I visit, emails. And those friends are awesome, but it was different to usual, which takes some adjusting.
So what I have learnt: it is really important on days like your birthday to ensure that you have something organised. If you usually spend it alone then it probably won't matter. But if it is normally quite a special day, spending it at home going about the daily routine with your child has the potential to be quite isolating, no matter how much you enjoy your life at home with your child.
There are wider implications - social people in working life need to make sure that they have networks around their child that will enable them to stay social. Ante natal classes can lead to coffee groups, you can make friends through plunket coffee groups and parenting classes. There is always playcentre or local playgroups if the others don't come up with some regular groups.
I really believe that if you are prepared to have time alone you will be better for it. Your life does change, that is inevitable, but how it changes is up to how you prepare for the differences.