Tag Archives: loneliness

Ibtissam…

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Her name means smile.  And boy does she have a good one! I met her once before, months ago, on the playground around the corner and we stumbled along in French. I’ve since tried to ring her door bell a few times but we haven’t managed to find each other.  Until two weeks ago.

She was at the park by the kids’ school. I recognized her underneath her hijab and we began at once just where we left off. By the sometimes miracle of six months, our babies were actually old enough to play without our ever-intervention.  So we chatted along in French in the sunshine, with the line of Presidio trees rising along our shoulders to the left, the city blinking bright below us on the right.

I noticed a woman watching us and edging closer.  I turned to her and smiled.  She stepped over.  Our French had reached her ears and she came to sit by us.  As it would turn out she just moved from Paris six months ago. She introduced us to her darling baby and confessed to knowing no one, a couple French families, she said, but no Americans. We exchanged numbers and promised to have coffee.

I was going to walk back and invited Ibtissam to walk with me.  She went one step further and invited us into her apartment for a full Moroccan tea.

Like any hostess she apologized for the mess and hastily moved toys aside. Her two daughters played with my three kids. And we talked happily while she set out cookies in beautiful little crystal dishes.  She showed me how to scoop the mint and tea into a pot, how to steep it and how much sugar to add.  We had a feast of peanuts and pistachios, beautiful butter cookies dipped in chocolate, and little gold rimmed glasses of sweet hot Moroccan mint tea. When those were finished off (by many little fingers besides our own) she got out two beautiful flat disks of homemade bread and olives in oil for dipping.

We ate and talked well into the dinner hour and as it was getting dim we tore ourselves away. We had talked about the similarities between Lent and Ramadan. We had shared about our faiths. We had talked about the loneliness of motherhood. And we had shared what makes us ourselves outside of these domestic spheres. “This,” she said, spreading her hands, “Sitting like this with friends. This is what I love.”

I am thankful for the gift of language that has enabled me to get to know one of these beautiful mothers. And I am thankful for this experience that has forever changed how I see the women underneath the hijab.

Introvert Issues Part 2…

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I was dragging my feet all morning. I was watching the clock and moving a little bit slower than was absolutely necessary. Part of me hoped that something would come up to make it impossible for me to go. Or, I would look up and it would be, so sad, too late.

I almost went so far as to wish one of my kids would throw up, the ultimate excuse infallible.

But I didn’t relish telling my husband that I had somehow missed the mommy group I was supposed to go to today.

I knew I could come up with an explanation that would be acceptable to any other Mom, but not my husband. He knows me too well. To him I am saran wrap. He sees right through me.

This is one of the reasons I’m terribly glad I married him. It’s healthy for me. And, like today, sometimes healthy tastes like a disagreeable kale salad.

At any rate, I arrived at the predetermined coffee shop at about the last possible moment. And my anxieties subsided when no one was there. Actually, I felt my spirits soar.

“Oh, well!” I thought, “At least he can’t say I didn’t try!”

And so I got a coffee and sat down with the kids.

At this moment, when I’ve already committed to a table and a for-here cup, another mother shows up with her son and we get to talking. And then one of her friends shows up with her daughter.

So, we had our own little mommy hour, and the universe contrived to make my husband correct once again, because I had fun. I’ll even go so far as to say that I needed that.

Best cappuccino I’ve had in this city, yet, too.

Introvert Issues…

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I’m not a person who requires a great deal of social interaction. One might even call me a loner. I never really felt alone. As someone who writes I’m almost never without a character’s voice chatting away in my head, anyway.

Friends used to come by my house to play and I was invariably in the middle of a project. I used to grab the first book I could find and pretend to be so involved I couldn’t play.

“Sorry, I’m right in the middle of a chapter.”

“You sure do read a lot.”

My sixth-grade self found it a very valid excuse.

But motherhood is a strange dichotomy. You’re lonely but you’re never alone. You’re without someone to talk to, but never without someone talking. You’re busy from morning till night and get nothing accomplished. You’re constantly standing over a stove, but never eat anything hot. Your nipples have never gotten so much action, but you’ve never felt less sexy.

In one minute you go from the ethereal revelations of first words and baby kisses to elbows deep in toilet water scrubbing poop out of superhero underwear.

Motherhood. It changed me.

Suddenly, I was lonely. The voices in my head couldn’t get a word in edgewise. And when the barista asked me how my day was, you better believe she heard every stitch of it, occasionally unto salty tears, mostly mine.

So, moving to a new place hasn’t been easy. I’ve been mourning a bit for the friends I left behind. And maybe I’ve been pouting a little about having to go in from scratch again. I wouldn’t say I’ve hit the point where I want to be social, but I have hit the step right before that one, the mommy loneliness.

My perceptive husband came in last week and let me know, “Barbara, it’s time to get a Mom’s group.”

Well, if there’s one thing I got from my family, it’s the inability to come to a decision coupled with a blazing resentment when anyone tells me what to do. So, after five minutes of looking at Mommy meet-ups I called it good.

And last week I put it off as I was in the throes of another book, my own, chip chip chipping away. I was writing so much I don’t think we left the house for a few days. Oops.

Well, my husband came home Friday and saw the state of things. And he took us all out to the park for a little airing which, I acknowledge now, was desperately needed.

And wouldn’t you know? I met a very nice Mom who invited me to her Mommy group.

So, this week’s project, besides chip chip chipping away at my book, is to be social.

Somehow writing a novel seems more attainable.

Mommy group is tomorrow. I think I’m nervous. I feel something like it in my belly.