You know what else no one tells you about having a baby? How lonely you’ll feel.
Yet you’re never alone, one can think. You have a baby! A whole new person!
Yes, a baby. A creature who’s eating, crying, pooping, wetting his diapers and (if you’re lucky) sleeping. What it can’t do though is keep you company. Like, provide a stimulating conversation.
Or even any conversation at all.
Let’s face it: the days of a new mother (or any primary caregiver) are filled with changing diapers, walking around with a pram, cleaning, mopping and picking up the litter, doing laundry, listening to the cries, trying to think up a new activity every five minutes because that’s how long a baby’s attention span is, running errands, getting the baby to the doctor, going to drugstores to pick up prescriptions, cooking for the rest of the family, and those stolen moments when you swallow your morning cup of coffee (long cold), standing at the kitchen counter and listening with one ear to what’s happening in the nursery while the little offspring is finally tucked into bed.
What it isn’t filled with is whatever life events (and people in them) you had happening before. No job and no conversations with the colleagues, professional or otherwise; no going out and seeing friends, at least for some time; no long talks on the phone because your time is no longer your own; no beauty treatments and no gym. In other words, the only people you will see for some time are your husband or partner (if present), the pediatrician and the cashier at the nearest store (but if you’re not in US, don’t count on the cashiers striking up any kind of conversation).
When the current COVID-19 pandemic struck, my husband had to switch to home office. Also I had an aunt visiting and helping out because I needed all the help I could enlist. When the pandemic became serious, her return flight was canceled and she was stuck with us, with no means of returning to homeland.
And so it happened that the work I was doing on my own before was now split between at least two adults, with my husband, working from home, occasionally pitching in as a third. And where I had no company at all, suddenly there were people I could talk to, or they could even help make a thousand everyday decisions which were sometimes overwhelming for me alone.
Everyone else was losing something or at the very least had to make adjustments. People complained that they had no freedom, no community, were slowly going crazy within the four walls of their own homes.
No shit, Sherlock, I thought. You are missing communication? You’re missing freedom of movement? After a couple of weeks? Tell me about it.
Isn’t it the very same thing that us new mothers had to endure for months and in some cases years, long before the pandemic? Do you honestly think we are any different? That we have different needs?
We were living in social isolation long before the term was even invented. Or is the happiness of having a child supposed to outweigh all the drawbacks that come with it?
Suddenly every company was trying to adjust to working remotely. Every gym or fitness studio or even sports clothing brand was running online fitness sessions. Every school was switching to online education. Museums were offering virtual tours. Even some doctors were trying to find ways to treat patients remotely. Conferences and workshops were hastily relocating to virtual platforms.
Hell, even Cirque du Soleil was doing an online show.
Why the heck was it happening now and not before?
Was the difference that now it wasn’t “just” women needing it?
Because women, especially mothers, they didn’t count, right? They were supposed to do it. They made their choice; the whole world now experiencing the pandemic didn’t. So perhaps it made sense that things turned out this way. That possibilities appeared out of thin air where seemingly they haven’t existed at all before.
Or have they?
Don’t get me wrong. I am happy that all those opportunities sprang out. I am hoping at least some of them will prove to be durable. That they will stay with us long term and help other people not to be alone so much when they are taking care of their children.
I am only wondering why us women weren’t worthy enough to have them before.