When I was pregnant with Echo I felt really alone. Nathan would say how funny or strange that seemed since carrying another living being inside my body might be the least alone I'd ever be. But "alone" isn't just the physical reality of being the only one in the room. I felt alone even with another human being within me. Alone is a feeling, and feelings don't always coincide with physical realities.
More than two years later, I'm still thinking about that idea. Alone in spirit.
Echo and I rode over to Kris' house today and I realized that she and I live only blocks away from each other, yet are often completely isolated from one another. She is in her house feeding, playing, and holding her children. And I am in my house feeding, playing, and holding my own. As I rode through the neighborhood I wondered how many other parents am I passing? How many of those silent houses shelter another mom or dad feeding, playing, and holding?
How many of them, though inside a crowded house, feel alone?
When I was pregnant I felt alone because the person nearest to me was not pregnant, and though he is amazing, I knew he was not feeling the same things I was. No matter how often you say "we're" pregnant, it still isn't true. No one can deliver that baby for you,and that can feel lonely.
What helped, at the time, was empathy from someone who had experienced something similar. It felt good when my midwife visited and told me tales of kicking her husband out of the house because she was pregnant and wildly pissed off. It felt good to go to birth class and see other bellies. It felt good to hear stories I could relate to, from people I related to.
Now I am parenting in a way that flows against the current of our culture. To parent with empathy as a foundation can be a lonely enterprise indeed, as this is not the norm. Odds are your mother-in-law (or neighbor, or grocery clerk) thinks you are crazy, your own mother may feel these choices are a direct attack on her parenting, and nine out of ten parents at a birthday party do not parent as you do.
Today, even more than when I was pregnant, I need people I relate to, to hear me, and share with me. I need to cross the divide, to make it the few blocks to my friend's house, and hear her talk. I need the simple text that reconnects me. I need lifelines that keep me from being alone in the crowded room.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I only know that if I feel this then someone else might feel it too. And if they do feel this way, it might help to read these words late at night while their children sleep. I am reaching across the divide.