Mar 082012
 
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I usually post about Thomas and our day-to-day dealings, but this will be more about being a parent/adult, at least from my perspective…

I have no friends…

OK I have friends that I grew up with, went to school with and were even in my wedding. These are my best friends and they are truly my friends at any time I need them, but they don’t live around me. Throughout the years as life has happened, we have slowly moved away from where we grew up for one reason or another… job opportunities mainly, that have meant that we no longer live in the same community as we did 15 years ago. I miss these guys a lot as they are the friends to whom I have the closest connections. I call them when I need to vent, ask questions, just chat, send pictures, or to keep up. I’ll admit that I don’t do this as much as I want to or would like, but it happens. I really wish we lived closer together and that we could be as close as we were back in the day, but I know that things have changed.

I have some friends from work too, that I just recently came to realize were all that I had locally, but as we rarely hang out (at least outside of the office, which I go to once a week or so), I feel kind of weird trying to insert myself into that circle (outside of the workplace) as they already have their own friends etc.

Our Families Are Pretty Spread Out

Our families are pretty spread out… being well dispersed around the country and there are only a handful within 90 miles of us. This means that we don’t see them that often and rarely are they over nor is it convenient for them to visit with Thomas without significant planning. Sure we see family at holidays, but we are seeking something more than that (at least I am, I don’t want to speak for my wife).

Ideally…

Ideally I’d like some family and friends nearby that we can interact with on a regular basis. I was always envious of my friends who had a lot of family around while growing up. They would have aunts/uncles, cousins, brothers/sisters grandparents all nearby and were an integral part of their upbringing. They were raised not just by their parents, but with family being a big part of their lives. This is what I want for Thomas. Right now I don’t feel like we are in a place to offer that, at least how things currently stand. We really do feel rather alone and isolated where we are.

Is This Just Part of Growing up?

As parents at least, is this just something that comes up and you have to decide how best to proceed? I’m really at a loss as the best way to proceed as I don’t see a way to do something without hurting some of those close to us and I fear just by writing this article that some in my family will take this personally and I don’t intend it that way. We are just trying to determine what is in the best interests of Thomas, where and how we would like him to grow up and the types of surroundings he does this in.

I know that we can make new friends and we have been attending some parent groups a few times a month, been active at parks, friendly with other people; but who with children has that much time to make new friends and then time to hang out with them? This whole realization came about because caring for Thomas the past three months meant that I hadn’t really done anything outside of the house for myself, which led me to realize I don’t have anyone to do anything with! While I was working, I had fulfilled this need by just being at work and all of the interactions in the workplace. Now that I no longer have that, I am having a hard time figuring out how to maintain some adult friendships.

This is a work in progress… I did get out to a friend’s house and enjoy a night of UFC matches. I have another outing coming up to go to a hockey game… Ultimately though, I know there is still a problem and both my needs and my wife’s needs are fully being met somewhere by outside relationships. We’ve known this for a while but now that we actually need the relationships, things are a little harder because they aren’t there.

What About You?

Has anyone gone through this? Care to share your thoughts/feelings on this? Please Comment!

  106 Responses to “We Feel Pretty Alone in the World…”

  1. I’m actually in a pretty similar place. We moved a few months ago to a place about seven hours from my nearest family. I have a few friends from college and a few years back scattered across the country (the nearest being about three hours away).
    I agree that it’s really hard to make friends once you have a little kid in tow. If they have kids, they’re too busy. If they don’t, they want to do things that you just can’t do if you have them. So, I get it. At a certain point, you just feel achingly lonely for friends, for consistent, casual, present friendship.
    What I’m doing, is just trying. I went to a moms group for a couple weeks and invited people to playdates. They weren’t interested so I did the same at the Library, the mall, the playground. It’s slowly starting to pan out. We had a playdate this morning. It wasn’t perfect (our kids kept running in opposite directions), but it helped. We’ll meet somewhere contained next time.
    The only thing to do when you realize you’re lonely is to work at fixing it and be okay with the idea that it might take time.

    • I’m working on it, I know that it takes a lot of effort on my part and eventually something will pan out. Thank you for such an honest reply!

  2. Hang in there… felt the same way 12 years ago :) It gets better. Being connected in the community (and away from family) with children is much different than without – this I have come to know and realize in a similar fashion. Moving away, growing apart from friends and possibly family, adapting to parenthood, finding new friends and trying to find support in the way of laughter and lightheartedness – and when needed those people who can reassure you that this will all be just fine. Keep finding time for yourself…. and with your wife also. It’s a good thing. Yes – it seems it is part of “growing up” :) Hang in there.
    .

    - Michele (married mom of 2)

    • Thanks Michele, we are doing OK here, but I’m trying to be honest and put forth my true feelings and emotions in this blog, in that spirit I’ll let you know that just typing this article up had me pretty teary-eyed the whole time… coming to a realization like this isn’t easy.

  3. I actually struggle with this as well. When we moved up north 5 years ago, I only had my oldest son and didn’t know a soul. Just my husband, child and my mom and stepdad. In those 5 years I attempted to make friends but they all were failed relationships. Either I was unappealing as a friend because I had a child or the parents who were older then me looked down on me from my age. No clicking instantly, I put my best effort out there though.

    Now, we have moved back downstate, near more family and old friends that I grew up with but I’m back to the same boat. I’m just looking for connections with other parents, others who can understand my joys and frustrations and not look at me like I have 3 heads. It’s hard and I’m not giving up. We made this move to better our lives, to find a better path for ourselves and thats what we’re doing, this I just look at is a small bump in that path that I have to find a way to get over. Best of luck to you.

  4. I have gone through the same thing. I lived in a large city growing up then moved to a small town in Kentucky. Everyone knows everyone here. You would think that would make it easy to make friends. Wrong! Everyone had their childhood friends already. It was very hard to break into the tight knit community. Let me say that my husband grew up here and had his group of friends but all of the wives had their own friends already. What finally helped me was getting into church regularly. We started attending church and started attending Sunday School. That is where the true friendships have grown. My class really talks about the Bible lessons and we pray about family problems together. We talk about good times and bad times. The bonus is that churches have nurseries that will take care of your precious bundle of joy. Most of these nurseries are staffed by older women who just love babies. You said you wanted your child to have family. Our church has become our extended family. Our children feel safe and secure and loved by everyone there. it really does take a village to raise a child and you will have the support that you need as you continue to adjust to staying home. The best part is that by attending church you will be teaching your child the values that are central to having a good foundation. God is the answer to everything and the right start for children and families is found in His house.

    • Joyce, thanks for the reply. My friends who moved to the East coast are having much success using church to build friendships. The issue for my wife and I is that neither of us are religious people and I am not sure that we would be comfortable going to a church to hear the word of God, perhaps we’ll get there some day, but not right now. My parents are also very active through their church and most if not all of their friends are through church as well.

      • I’m not religious either but a friend of mine who was casually religious joined a church after she had children and it’s been nothing but beneficial. What is wrong with surrounding yourself with people who (hopefully) are trying to teach their children to live morally and correctly? If you find the right church the people are generally kind, compassionate, willing to help their neighbor and trying to instill good values in their kids. I don’t see a down side. So you don’t believe in God, the tenents to live by are sound. You can keep your doubts to yourself and join the community. Most likely you will find that they are just people like you, trying to do the best they can. It’s not all wackos and bible thumpers. If you knew me this is REALLY ironic, me taking the side of religion! I can’t believe it even as I’m writing it. I don’t have kids but I think if I did, I would bite the bullet and do just what I’m telling you. I grew up going to church and it was a great help and comfort to my mom….and I turned out ok, well except for the whole non religious thing. Not trying to tell you what to do but as I read Joyce’s comment she has found exactly what you are searching for.

        • Matina, this is something I’ve thought of. I’m not sure that it is as simple as you say though and I plan to do an upcoming article on this so stay tuned… (religion).

          I do agree that I could just join the community of the right church and flourish those friendships, but I need to feel comfortable doing so, which right now I’m not. This has nothing to do with me not believing in God, I do believe that there is something out there, I just don’t know what.

  5. I totally understand and am in the same situation, its pretty damn hard to make new friends as you get older, and trying to fit into a group of people you feel like you are imposing. My motto, try, try and try again, someone will take pity and could end up being a good long term pal. I have managed to achieve some small friendships over the past year by doing burlseque dancing, salsa dancing and getting very drunk in the pub and therefore talking to everyone if they liked it or not, drink is a great tongue loosener although it can backfire when you are introducing yourself to new potential friends with a red wine stained mouth and teeth, but you get the jist, so get out there and join some groups, you might be an ace Salsa dancer ;) I discussed recently the exact same thing http://adventuresofatwinmummy.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/263/, I think it’s a parent thing, you are out of the loop. Take care chicken x

    • Thanks for the reply… I definitely have to get myself out there more, finding the time to do it is the difficult part, there is always so much to do and I value my time to relax as well!

  6. I totally believe this is a part of growing up and moving on. Almost all of my closest friends live in another state. It is hard because the distance makes it difficult to remain close and relationships are more work to keep strong at a distance.

    You will probably find that once your little one goes to school you will create a whole new circle of friends with other parents. I think this is just a natural progression unless you live in your hometown for you entire life.

    • Thanks for the reply Emily, one of the hardest parts was the realization that anything had even changed… Can’t fix a problem until it is identified :)

  7. I am in the process of conquering this problem. It can be done. I think it may be a part of growing up but I will not resign myself to it…and I can’t wait for my daughter to start school to make some new friends. I moved to another state and left my job to be a stay at home mom at the same time. (talk about double culture shock) Anyway, what I’ve learned is that you have to be proactive in real friendmaking. There are other people that feel the way you do… especially other parents. So go places people with similiar interests will be (library, art museum, church, garden club, neighbors ect.) Then strike up some akward conversations with strangers. Eventually you’ll run into someone you really can just hang out with.

  8. I’ve been there. For a year I was home with my first daughter – no friends, no car. It was very difficult. But ultimately, things changed. I got a job, so we got a second car. Two very dear friends of mine moved back from out of state. Parenting groups can be great. We have one at our church that I love. Another option might be to pursue something just for you, if that’s possible. A hobby, a class, whatever. It could give you a way to meet other adults who share a common interest, other than parenting. We all need a break from that sometimes. Hang in there. Looking back, you’ll treasure all the time you get with your little one.

  9. I think it is pretty much the life of a parent when the kids are young. Both my husband and I felt it most strongly when we moved away from the place we had lived for a decade. The little kids made it really hard to make new friends. Then one day I discovered meetup.com. A little digging uncovered several groups in my area with moms who were feeling exactly the same way. I hooked up with a group and we’ve been friends ever since (to varying degrees, of course :) ). My husband did the same thing, but instead of looking for a group of dads, he joined a couple of poker groups. It really has helped us to feel somewhat connected despite the limited amount of time we have for friendships. I suggest you check out the website. There are groups all around the country for every interest you can possibly think of.

    • I do some events a few times a month through a meetup.com ‘mom’s group’. I’m sure it is just a matter of time…

      Thanks for the reply!

  10. First thank you for liking my post. The best way to be embraced by those around us is to reach out, just as you did to me. I understand where the two of you are now. As the mother of a 19 year old who once was a baby boy, I understand the feelings of isolation. You will make friends with people who have children close in age. You’ll share the same questions and issues and joys. As the kids start nursery school, you’ll get involved with community or school or charitable projects and meet more people who also share your values and sense of commitment. The blog is wonderful and I will continue to follow your posts.

  11. Hi there, I was like you a few years ago when my oldest was new. I was very isolated. My family actually moved away from me leaving me the only family member in our home state (sigh). I was able to find a church that we really connected in…I joined MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers…and as a steering member now I could tell you we would gladly accept a stay-at-home-dad in our group if you didn’t mind being the only gentleman!) It’s a great way to connect and meet friends and also most churches have great support groups or men’s bible studies where you can meet grounded people like you. That’s what I would suggest because I know being at home with babies is very isolating if you don’t fight it. And isolation is contrary to human nature. It’s hard to make friends as an adult which is why most churches are a good place to find welcoming people who are looking for new friends too.

    • Thanks for the reply :)

      We are doing our best but I think just wished that we had some friends/family that we could hang out with once a week or that were close so we could feel some closer connections.

      We are trying to be active in some “mom” groups and even there, when I am the sole male, they don’t feel the most inviting but perhaps that is just me.

  12. I know this struggle as well – with most of my family and long-time friends living far away from where I live now. Somehow making new close friends has been more difficult than anticipated.

  13. Oh, I who thought this was a Swedish “problem”. Good for one self to hear that it is not. :)

    We have been living a the same place for 1 years now, 9 of them with children. None of us are from here, but the Mr is for the area.

    I and Mr are what we call very social people who are not afraid to make contact, and there are people around for sure. But when I once in a while do a good friends in the neighborhood inventory not many falls in to the criteria.

    I ask my self, is it us? And by that I mean from both a critical point of view like “people do not think we are not fun enough to be around that is why” to a more content perspective “This is all we really need and want and that is why it is like it is.”

    I am sure that we are all a bit uncomfortable to demand the time of someone else. Because it does take time to get to know someone new. But I think that it is possible to find new close friends if one wants to. But if the criteria we have doesn’t show up right away… I think most people is not prepared to invest more time.

    • I’m glad you commented on not wanting to interfere in others lives. I feel weird inviting myself to things or really trying to insert myself into someone’s circle, I think it should be a two way street where both people are willing and want the same thing :)

      Thanks for the reply and I hope you enjoy the site!

  14. I know just how you feel. When we had young children we felt the same way. As our kids got older and became more involved in activities, we met people, and all our friends now are people we know because we have kids! They have become like family to us–we exchange babysitting and go out together as well. Hang in there!

    • Thanks for the reply Karen :)

      We are hanging in! I hope we don’t have another year of feeling this type of isolation!

  15. I feel the same way too. My husband and I moved to a new part of the country over 5 years ago and I still often think of myself as “new here,” though by now I am not. It is hard to find, connect with, and build friendships with new people when you’re parenting young child(ren). I’ve found that even when I find people I like, getting together around naptimes, activities, and contagious colds & flus is extremely challenging! – it’s so difficult to feel close to someone you only see a few times a year even if you think they’re great and you communicate online in between visits. I think this is just kind of how the world is now… everyone is so busy and free time is so dear. Family is scattered for us too, as for many people these days. Truthfully my biggest support system is online with people I have never even met, which is kind of sad, but pretty common I think.

    • Erin,

      You brought out a point that had crossed my mind but I didn’t put in my post… I don’t want to bring Thomas around all of the other sick kids, especially when many of the mom’s post about their kids being sick on Facebook, we often skip some of the meetup’s that we intend to go to because half of the kids will be sick. I know we can’t keep Thomas germ free forever and that isn’t our goal, but I don’t want to deliberately get him sick…

      Thanks for the reply!

  16. I used to think the same thing but the weird thing about my situation is I have family nearby but my besties are out of the state so I had to get out of my comfort zone and just start talking to people. Once they start school and are in parent tot classes you will meet more people. dont give up. it’ll happen.

  17. How interesting to hear a man express the same lonliness felt by generations of stay-at-home moms. I’m sure that’s why women invented sewing circles, book groups, play groups, etc., etc., and I have no doubt that it’s hard for a male to break into or feel comfortable in those kinds of predominately female groups. Perhaps a hightened involvement in church, or a local nature center or community garden or library would provide some company. In the meantime, my thoughts to you (as a mother of four, on the cusp of her 23rd anniversary) is to not fret over what you DON’T have (i.e. close proximity to lots of extended family), but be grateful for what you DO have, which is an incredible opportunity to cement a firm foundation in your OWN marriage and family. The rest will follow. Trust in that. God bless you and best wishes!

  18. I would say you have summed up the growing disconnect that is made harsher by the age we live in. I feel exactly like this, minus the child, but my girlfriend and I are always just in the house. Theres not really anyone to go DO things with, and the great thing about friends is that you never feel the need to DO anything, you all just get along so you hang out and either something comes up or it doesn’t, and that is all the doing there need be. It’s tough in this age even more so because we aren’t in the types of communities we used to be in, it’s really not the same. Think twenty years ago even, to conduct business you had to leave the house. To go shopping, to socialize in any way, you had to step outside the house and interact with other people. None of that exists anymore. Slowly, interaction outside of the workplace has been more or less turned off because we grow tired, and given the option to rest and be at peace in a comfortable home and still get the simulated benefit of interacting with other people via technology vs. going outside to actually meet someone, the path of least resistance is only natural.

    I don’t think it is hopeless of course, as I am sure when your son grows up he will be the driving cause of many of your interactions, and after that point relationships in whatever community you wind up in will bloom because of that history. So really it is a waiting game I suppose, but that is never an excuse to stop yourself from growing as a person interacting with other people unless you feel complete in that way. Which, you don’t, so I would say if you have a passion or shared love or hobby, look up online the areas around you that have a community group, and put your desire to interact into something that you also love, upping the chances that you will meet people you actually enjoy! (gardening, growing your own fruits and veggies, painting, wood working, computer repair, video games, etc…)

  19. I hear people say all the time you become friends with the people your kids are friendly with. I hear that – at least somewhat. Anyway, I find we have become friends with some of the people in our community. A big part of that is because these are the people we doe see on a regular basis. Life seems so busy with little time to go out of the way to see friends on any kind of regular basis.

  20. Having young children is the most difficult part of our lives so far. My husband looked after our son, while trying to work a bit of graphic freelance from home. We had just moved, so I was starting a new job and discovered I was pregnant with our second. Now, 10 years later my son is 10 1/2, my daughter just turned 9 and we are finally starting to form some friendships. We still cannot drop the kids off for an overnight stay with anyone, and have to hire a nanny next year to get us through until my son is in grade 7.

    My husbands family is about 2 hours away by car, but his sister is older with much older kids. His parents are well into their seventies and his mother’s health is not the best. It is a big effort for them to come down here and look after our kids when our work travel schedules overlap.

    My family is 1000km away. My sister has 2 boys, one in the same grade as my son. We get the kids together as often as possible, but they are far away. My parents, other sister and all other relatives live back where I am from.

    We love where we live. And we love raising our kids here for the access to nature and so many like minded people around us. My sister has created a network of friends that support her, looking after each other’s kids, play dates, parties, etc. It has been a very good thing for her and her family. My husband and I are accepting the fact that if we don’t have a line up of good friends, it is because we are not usually making the effort to let people into our lives. Just yesterday we discussed that we need to remedy that situation.

    As the kids get older, life gets easier. Now we are bracing for the final test – teen years!

  21. I totally feel with you on this. My hubby and I moved from CA to Louisiana about a year ago. Leaving all our family and friends behind. It was a hard adjustment not having anyone to talk to, or hangout with. I went through times of extreme loneliness. Luckily for me I found a great church full of brothers and sisters that have enriched my life. I still miss my friends and family, but at least it makes it easier.

  22. You aren’t alone :-)
    I was feeling the same way, until I read this book…it’s a humorous but still touching take on this very dilemma.

    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=bff+book&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=12967847753129953986&sa=X&ei=acteT6jQFojv0gHi-8TOBw&ved=0CEwQ8wIwAw

  23. I live out in the valley…almond country…I call it. When I moved here from the coast
    In Santa Cruz we were young with a baby and we , my husband, joined a service club. The ladies had a dinner thing going wheeremwe celebrated birthdays, and holidays at each others homes. Now it is thirty years later. The relationships we made then have blossomed into a dinner group/ drinks/ travels/ coffee catches that are part of our everyday lives now as retirees. Church and Activities like service clubs really made a difference for us. My daughter belongs to a Mom’s club……you should definitely start a Dad’s Club……you are doing such a great job and I applaud your teamwork with your wife!

  24. Hi, I certainly understand this. It takes time to make a new “family of choice.” It helps when you do find parents who are going through the same things so that you can bond while you are doing them. But, it is complex and painstaking and in the end, who knows if it will work. Keep trying though. But, I certainly know how you feel! I’m there.

  25. I’m not a parent, but when I was growing up in SoCal in the 60s and 70s, all of my maternal relatives (Aunts, Uncles, Cousins) lived Back East and my Dad was cut off from the extended family which raised him. So I grew up not having any extended family around. Sometimes I envy friends, or some of my extended family members who do have close, tight families. But I can see how that can impede a person. I’ve done a lot in my life, travelled extensively, have lived for 13 years in the UK that I may not have had the freedom to do if I had ‘closer’ family. I think it comes down to the quality of family that you and your wife can give your son and the quality of friends you bring to your home life.

  26. Hi,
    don’t despair.
    I know many people who feel like this. And, when they feel that they are a minority (due to race, nationality, religion, disability or parenting style) it is even more difficult.
    You (and we) have to keep trying though. The odds slightly increase if you do.

  27. I think so many new parents go through this! We moved to Texas while I was pregnant with my second daughter. We haven’t lived near family in many years – but it’s something that becomes so much more of an issue when you have children, I think. I miss them more. I wish I lived near them and the friends that I grew up with that now have kids. I started a mom’s group here in town and find that if I’m super active (meaning a couple of times/week), I feel really well connected to the outside world. It doesn’t always work out for us to be that involved, but I’ve really appreciated getting to know new families.

  28. Hang in there. As the father of two grown boys, I can tell you that socializing gets easier as your son gets older and joins parks and recreation classes, school, sports, scouting, etc. For example, we met some wonderful friends through a summer tiny tots program nearly 30 years ago. Our families stayed in touch through the years, and they came for dinner on Sunday.

  29. “…who with children has that much time to make new friends and then time to hang out with them?”
    This line especially caught my eye. My husband and I were new to our city when I learned I was pregnant, and have struggled, as you have, to balance family responsibilities and “grown up” personal lives. We’ve been at our current location two years now, and have met some really great people, mostly through my connections at the university. Still, we struggle to devote time to these budding friendships and, consequently, they are developing slowly. I would love to spend more time with these people, to know them better, and develop a deeper sense of community here. I just keep extending invitations for hang out times, and try not to get discouraged by the opportunities that don’t pan out. I also try to make the most of the few occasions when I do manage to get together with other adults (try to engage in meaningful conversation, or take on an activity I really enjoy).

    Hopefully you can at least take some comfort in the stories of so many other parents, all feeling they’re in the same boat!

  30. The first year is really isolating, especially if you are home full time. The lonliness didn’t start to ease until I started doing more with first my daughter, then my son. I haven’t lived near family since my daughter was 15 months and even then our family was two hours away. I made wonderful friends doing a music class with my daughter. As she got older (and after a move that left me more isolated than every), I discovered our local library. At age three the children went in on their own and the other parents and I had a thirty minute chat that soon spilled into lunch with all the kids and playdates. Hang in there, and take heart in all the wonderful responses you’ve received on this blog. You’re not alone!

  31. Yes, I miss the few friends that I had/have. In 2005, I left teaching and moved several hundred miles north of the city where I taught in for thirty year.

    Then two close friends died soon after they retired from teaching, which was a year or so before I left the profession. The few that are left, I keep in touch with through the Internet but they all have jobs and live hundreds of miles from where I relocated.

    In addition, the friends I had from high school all drifted around the country. One lives near St. Louis, one near Denver, two in Southern California near Los Angeles and one vanished. We have no idea if he is alive or dead.

    While I was still teaching, several of us teachers went on regular monthly hikes over a period of more than a decade (1989 to 2005) mostly in the local mountains of Southern California. Once, three of us drove from California across Arizona to the four corners area and hiked among the Anasazi Indian ruins in that region.

    These hikes would often be over ten miles in length with several thousand feet of elevation gain. It’s amazing how close a friendship grows and how well you get to know someone when you spend that much time in the wilderness with them.

    • Lloyd,

      I’ve had some of my best experiences away from the cities. Not on hikes mind you, but camping with friends. I hope that soon I can start to do some of those things again and include my son. Perhaps we can go together :)

      As always thank you for your comment and I hope you are enjoying the content here!

      • My brother loves hiking and packeds his kids on his back when they were babies. My mom was really worred at first but they slept through most of it and he got to get out with his friends. I don’t know where you live but maybe invest in a backpack that carries your boy and find a hiking group!

  32. Life is solitary at your stage of the game. Thanks for liking my posts and it’s nice to discover yours. Loneliness can become a habit so take care to get out there! It’s worth it. Thanks for your honesty.

  33. Hi,

    Thank you for liking two of my posts. I enjoyed reading this post and would like to share with you my experience.

    I’m not sure if my experience will help much since I come from a totally different setting from yours. I’m from Singapore and it’s a small country, so small that it’s only a little red dot on the map. You can travel from one end of the island to the other end in less than 2 hours. But what I do know is that when my two kids were growing up, I practically just work, go home, work, go home…sure, occasionally I go out with colleagues for but there is no deep connection with these people. As for close kins, they were all struggling with their own families too even though we lived just 30 minutes from each other, max.

    I have many siblings and I guess I’m pretty lucky that they are all very caring and are basically kids at heart. We would all converge at my parents’ on Sundays and that provided my children some playmates and helped build a strong bond with their cousins. Me and my sisters all bonded through such gatherings and soon we were celebrating our X’mases in a chalet, and we still do. All the kids and adults would cramp into a couple of bedrooms to sleep and no one would complain. That’s how close we are.

    I guess having all of these have made it less painful the absence of friendship, though I never lack of that. I know my friends are there if I want to talk and they could be my ex-classmates or my ex-colleagues. Then there are the cyber friends I made and one of them I chat with daily on IM. I don’t really feel I’ve missed out on anything because my family is here all the time.

    I’m sorry you are struggling to cope with this empitness in your heart but it will be alleviated once your son is old enough to follow you on your fishing trips or football games, whatever that dad does in your side of the pond. Then when he is slightly older and you’re able to leave him home alone, you’ll find something else to interest you, maybe a new group of friends who share the same passion as you. That’s what happened to me when my kids reached their teens; I found love again with music and through music, I found some great friends, even if we might never meet in person but they give me the support that I need from time to time.

    Before I end this I just want to say, enjoy every moment with your son for he will grow up too fast too soon and you’ll wonder where the time has gone ;)

    • Thanks Judy, for such a great reply.

      What you described is a situation I would love to be in, family within 30 minutes that gathers frequently (weekly) and maintain those bonds. As I said in the post, we do have some family nearby but we don’t see them frequently, perhaps every few months and I’m sure that I could put forth more effort to change that but I keep thinking that they are busy.

      My wife and I are already experiencing how quickly time flies when you have a child… we are mystified that Thomas is already seven months old and amazed at how quickly the time has gone.

      I’ve mentioned to other commenters that these feelings come and go, they get stronger or disappear altogether for days at a time. I try to stay busy and have fun with Thomas, I know that soon enough he’ll be an adult and I’ll wish we had more time together…

  34. After having to relocate during both pregnancies I have found myself alone at the beginning of both. Going back to work first time round helped me make friends other than just ‘parent friends’ (the ones you meet at baby groups and the park that you don’t really have anything in common with other than that you both have children). This time I will have to find some other way of meeting new friends as I don’t have any plans to go back to work. I love being at home with my children, if only they could have real conversations about current events….

    • Sam, thanks for the comment.

      I think those conversations about current events will happen, eventually… even then you may not like what you hear. Kids have a way of not agreeing with their parents (ever?) hehe

      • Haha! Definitely, AT is just leaving the terrible twos and entering what appears to be the even worse threes, so the disagreeing has started already. You know, I never knew I was so wrong all the time…. although, in reference to another of your posts, he’s started giving the best cuddles and ‘I love yous’ in way of apology.

  35. It must be a ‘grown up’ thing because I feel like this a lot too. I can log onto Twitter and Facebook and feel even more alone too. However, I have to say since blogging more, the people I’ve been chatting to, have started to make me feel better about myself.

    • I saw this mentioned on another blog yesterday, that our shift to online communication is slowly making in-person/community interactions even less important… sad really. Blogging is great, it does feel good to get this stuff out and share it… the comments are really the best part for me, that is what lets me know I’m not alone!

  36. It certainly is difficult being across the country from family and friends. We’ve been in GA for 5 years now having moved from CA. I doubt I would have any guy friends here if it wasn’t for my wife starting a relationship with people at the local church. She set me up on a date to go explore a system of caves with the husbands of some women she met. I think you guys should move to GA. The house next door is for sale.

    • We’ve considered moving, Jkoe, but are still trying to determine where the right place would be. Thanks for the comment, as always :) Also, I don’t see my wife going to church any time soon so she won’t be able to set me up on some dates, I’ll have to do that on my own.

  37. Reading this I’m glad I’m not alone. I find myself thinking the same thing a lot. But I must admit, I feel like a dork when I say it. Maybe its a reminder of being the new kid in school and feeling uncomfortable and alone? I’m sure that’s part of it. But the truth is as an adult it’s hard to find friends that I connect with like I did as a kid. Good to know I have company in this feeling. Thanks for opening up about this.

    • Thanks for the comment Heather. I browse the parenting blogs here and this topic comes up on a lot of them. I try to let them know that this is common and really up to them, they need to find groups that can help them along with this. I need to take my own advice too!

  38. I’ve enjoyed reading some of your posts. They bring back many memories for me. I’ve been married for 31 years and have two grown daughters, one married and one single. My married daughter is about to have her second baby, but they live 1800 miles from us!!

    I don’t know that the issues of family and friendship and loneliness are ever gone in life. You just go through cycles and versions of the same themes. I too would love to have my girls and the family close, along with my sister and her family. We have some ideal from which we measure our own experience.

    The first lesson of life is to learn to be content with what we have. Then we can take greater joy in the blessings we take for granted. The next is to cultivate the available relationships with the available energy and time we have and appreciate whatever comes of it.

    You have been given good advice about finding friendship in community opportunities — from parenting groups to church. These opportunities have made a huge difference for my husband and me. We are involved in our HOA community, a local church, and my husband is involved in a boy scout group. I have my blog and various writing projects at this stage of life.

    As a young parent, during those first years, it is fun to research what is available in your community and sign up for classes and go to whatever you can. Parent – baby classes at the YMCA can be great. In the summer, community festivals. Reaching out to neighbors.

    But since Thomas is just 7 months old, right now you are doing what you can and that is great!! Your blog is building a community of friendship. Your plate looks pretty full.

    I do think that church is the best opportunity. It gives you something most like a family in that you have a broad section of people of every age. You can find people to invest in, which will provide opportunities for Thomas to learn and grow, as well as you and your wife. Widows, widowers, and adult singles would be deliriously happy if you and Thomas would stop by and visit them! They will love on you, and you will love on them. You can have a couple or single over for dinner! You’ll find couples your age, single parents who need friendship, empty nest couples who are lonely, big families who think nothing of adding another 3 people to their dinner table, and you name it!

    I tell you, if you were my neighbor out here in Arizona, I would love to adopt you as family. Church is a place this can happen, and it provides an excellent way for you to thank God for all the blessings He is always providing you.

    I also enjoyed your March 1 post about your wife and four years of marriage. And thank you for visiting my blog, Journey North Character!

    Blessings and joy to you all and give Thomas a Nana-hug from me!

  39. Church has always been a place of meaningful relationships for my husband and I. Of course we’ve always had family nearby, so much so that I wished I had some I could go visit somewhere far away just to get out of town.

    Reaching out to other parents with babies your son’s age would be a great place to start. Most likely they are feeling the same way you are. I’ve always found just being open to wanting deeper relationships with others to be a great place to start.

    • Teresa thanks for the reply. I’ve realized that change begins with me! I will be working on building some relationships :)

  40. You have some heavy topics here. Part of growing up is to create your own family. Uncles, friends, parents or whoever they are, will eventually go away. Even your own kids will grow up and move away one day to create their own family.

    I don’t have a lot of family and friends either. But me and my husband are quite happy being just the two of us. I count my blessings everyday that nobody bothers me. I had to move away from them. Enjoy your beautiful family.

    • Thanks Leslie for replying. Indeed there are some heavy topics here. We are working through these things slowly and discussing them daily. I’m hoping that we can resolve these feelings one way or another soon :)

  41. I can totally relate to the feelings of isolation you experience as a stay at home dad. As a stay at home mom (mine is 17!) sometimes I feel so disconnected from the world. But it helps to keep the ultimate goal in mind. Some sacrifice now will pay off substantially in the long run. Nice to meet you and thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  42. Have never been in this situation ( ie having kids) and never will be, but this whole discussion, and the good advice has been interesting to read. It has made me think…

    You definitely need to get out there as much as possible for the sake of your mental health – realise the logistics mitigate against that; and in the meantime, since you are at home a lot, maybe you could decide to choose a thing to do at home (ie a new, or rediscovered interest) that would last just until your boy is at school and you can connect more easily.

    It could be something to remember fondly as a time when you did something special that was just for you, (or you both, or all three) at a particular life stage, before it was swept away by other concerns. Maybe an art diary of how you are feeling, no more than 20 mins a day – don’t want to wallow in misery!

    • Kevin, I’m not wallowing in misery and this blog was started for many of the negative reasons I presented in that post. This is sort of my digital scrapbook of what we are doing and how we are feeling during those times and it has also allowed me to connect with new people (although not in person). MANY have expressed the same feelings which lets me know that 1) I’m not alone in feeling that way and 2) That this is normal with small children.

      You are right though, change begins with me and I need to get out there as much as possible! Thanks for the comment

  43. I felt this way for a long time but once your child gets to be school age, starts sports, makes a groups of buddies, this all changes and soon you find ourself pining for those days when you didnt have a hundred social things to do on the weekend. Hang in there and enjoy your weekends together as a family while you can.

    • Thanks Anne, I read a lot of other parent blogs where they are running ragged because of all the activities the children are doing so I will agree that we should enjoy this too, but that doesn’t make the loneliness feel any easier. We know this is temporary!

  44. I really relate to this post. I also have no friends! I live about 6 states away from my family including brothers and sisters. My daughter is an only child and I occasionally day dream about her hanging out with her cousins, going to the movies with her aunts, or just hearing stories about our family from her Great Uncle John.

    It used to be easier to make friends, but communities just aren’t communal anymore. Neighborhoods just aren’t what they used to be. I don’t know the couple next door, the older lady down the street, or pretty much anyone else on this street. These homes are full of children but they never play together.

    It seems nowadays people put relationships and family at the bottom of the list, and self at the top. Our church has given me many opportunities, but honestly I have forgotten how to even cultivate friendships and family, but I am learning again. Maybe try making family where you are, that’s what we’re doing.

    • Thanks for the reply, we are working on building some new relationships and I agree that communities just aren’t as communal anymore (as they used to be) society really is changing with the digital age. In person engagements are taking a back-seat, which is sad and hard on parents of young children.

  45. I think being a new parent is so isolating anyway. When my son was a baby, I had to get out of the house every day just for contact with other people. I finally joined a local parents group at our local hospital and met other moms. We formed a playgroup. Nine years later, they are my best friends. The other moms and I meet without the kids regularly, but we built our friendships because of them. We started doing that when they were very young. Give it time.

  46. What an honest and forthright post. I suspect that your dilemma is not all that uncommon, especially as we as a society are busier and busier doing more and more things that don’t seem to produce anything — either in relationships or concrete creations.

    I do know that life is lived in a series of chapters, and some of them involve being more alone than others. We made the unfortunate choice of, 13 years ago, building our social network around the local church, which at the time was vibrant, friendly, and a place we felt welcome and relaxed. That gradually changed, and six years ago we broke off for good, finding that many people we had thought of as friends were really no more than acquaintances, because once we stopped the weekly obligations, they dropped us.

    Not a bad thing to learn, the shallowness of many people, and you can either let this permanently damage you or you can move on and forge, slowly, real relationships that last. Which is where we are now — not many close friends, but the ones who are, are. And they’re not what you’d think — our contemporaries in age and background. They run the gamut.

    I also understand your desire to forge relationships for the sake of your son. As parents, we do so much for our children that we don’t even think of doing for ourselves.

    Hang in there. Look for friends in the oddest places, and accept the overtures of those you would not normally consider as friends. Be open to all, give of yourself, and look beyond the externals to the person underneath. Worry less about having friends for yourself than you do being a listening ear or an accepting companion to another.

    That’s it for advice. Thank you for visiting Focus on the Artist and Liking it.

    • Thanks Carolyn, that is a wonderful reply and full of some great advice. Surprisingly, I would say that about 75% of the replies here said to use a church to meet people and you are the first one to share a negative experience with that.

      Not being religious in general, I haven’t gone to a church to build relationships. Thank you for sharing your experience and commenting!

  47. insightful, thanks.

  48. Thanks for liking my blog post :-) I’m a mother and a grandmother, and I know how it feels to home alone with the kids. But from my experience, as they grow older they bring new people into your life anyway, and extend your family so much – I have ‘adopted’ sons and daughters who love their own parents but still call me mum, and now their kids call me Grandma Kav. So it is not always so lonely, believe me. What kept me going was the love of art, writing and creativity that brought me into contact with so many interesting people over the mothering years and still does now, during the golden years. Every stage of life has its own challenges and pleasures and sometime regrets, enjoy every one of yours.

    • Thanks for the warm reply Gail. As you said I think this is just one of those stages that we are going through. I know things will change… I would just like the stage to be a short one! :)

  49. Love your open honesty. My husband and I are in the same boat…except we don’t even have kids. In the past few years our job situations have changed, we now both work from home and we live in a place where we didn’t grow up, so we don’t have those long-time connections. And the thought of going out and trying to meet people that we connect…well we’re kinda at a loss with it.

    Is there anyway you can move back closer to family. Family really does make a world of a difference….or maybe you could try to find some groups, sports, a spiritual organization to get involved in….Good Luck!

    • Kajal, we are looking into all of those opportunities. Even before our son was born, we had some neighbors move in next door to us who are very close in age to us. They don’t have any kids either and we thought that we would be able to make some great friends with them. Well it has been two years or so and we have hung out a few times, we are conversational when we see them but even being neighbors we speak maybe every six weeks or so. I think both of us (both couples) would love to have a better relationship but it always feels like so many things get in the way and the relationship hasn’t blossomed like we thought… So trust me when I say that I know exactly how you feel… :(

  50. Have you investigated http://meetup.com? It’s a place where you can enter your geographical area and find groups that meet regularly on all kinds of interests. Best of luck to you … you’ll find a way to connect; if you put the intention out there from your heart, the right folks will show up. And thanks for stopping by my blog. Namaste.

    • Regina,

      Yes I use meetup to attend some “mom group” activities as often as they are convenient. I’m sure that they will work out in the long run and build some good relationships but right now the times don’t always line up or the weather is foul or the meetups are too far away to attend.

      I’m hoping that in a few months I can look back and do another post saying “It all worked out!” But there is no denying that right now there is isolation and some loneliness.

  51. this was such a great post and the comments are so “spot-on”. For us, we’ve spent time in that “season” of life as our children were varying ages. When we had our first, that first year was really tough, all about finding our way as parents. As he got older and we added #2 we began to form playgroups, etc and some of my dearest friends were formed in that time. As we added 2 daughters we have come in and out of that place and after moving from our home of 10 years to our current home it’s another “dry spell” as our children are busy with school and extracurriculars, we are busy at work, with home projects, church and living life. There are only so many hours in the day. You received some great advice in the comments, just remember that life is always changing and enjoy these days! I miss them and wonder from time to time if we should add #5 just enjoy them again. Then our 4 go nuts and I figure we are good! ;-) God Bless!

    • Tracy, thanks for sharing your experiences with me. As you mentioned many of the comments have been very good and my wife and I are trying to heed them as time allows and we can.

      The thought of 4 kids is beyond my comprehension right now!!!! Holy Cow!!!!

  52. Thanks for liking my blog post.

    I am not a parent, but this particular topic is relevant to us, as we’ve moved around a lot, living in different parts of the world. My usual approach was to get a visa to a country so I could work there, arrive, and then see what I could do there. If I think about it, many of my past, and still current, friends are from work. But when we retired to Malaysia this avenue for forming friendships was not open to us.

    Here it has been a combination of many of the approaches suggested by the comments of people above. Join groups casually, and if they don’t work out, drop them. Even if you drop a group, you may stay in contact with one or more of the members. Try churches as suggested, accept overtures, make overtures oneself – nothing to lose but can be a little embarrasing if not accepted.

    I particularly liked Caroyln’s comments. But I wouldn’t worry about shallowness. Some relationships are going to be that way – but you will either have fun, or learn something, or get something out of the relationship – so it will be worth it until it is not. And then the relationship will end, but you will have both benefitted.

    You could also try hosting couchsurfers or join in some of their activities – this has worked for me. http://www.couchsurfing.org/

    This is also a good topic for my blog – which is basically to help someone decide whether Penang is a good place to retire to, and if they do, to help them adjust. Plus any other topics I like to throw in. So I am glad to have come across yours.

    Best of luck.

    • Thank you for such a great reply. I’ll have to check out http://www.couchsurfing.org If I stay busy and we do new things each day I don’t feel so alone because we are always experiencing new places and meeting fun people while we are out, these aren’t lasting relationships but a lot of people that I meet while on hikes or at regional parks are very friendly and seem genuinely interested in how we are doing.

  53. When my husband and I first moved into our community (from another state) with children aged 3 and just 5, I cried every day for 6 months. I didn’t have any friends here and I thought we had made a BIG mistake. It’s all part of the process and yes, growing up process too. I did a lot of stuff with the children by myself, my husband was already working and making his work friends. I remember the salvation of the local library and parents and tots groups. Heaven. Seek those things out, they are a godsend. Nowadays with computers I’m sure you can find playgroups, we didn’t have that then. Our kids are 17 and 19 now and we are in the same house, almost another time to reevaluate where we will live. Good luck to you. check out my blog http://hibernationnow.wordpress.com if you want, I write about a lot of different subjects there or have your wife write to me, anytime. regards, Laurie

    • Thanks Laurie,

      We have been seeking out parent and tot groups. I’m sure they will pay off eventually. I’ll be sure to check out more of your site and pass it along to my wife as well :) thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it!

  54. I wrote about this same thing a couple of weeks ago. Not sure why, it’s just really hard to make friends as we get older. Maybe we’re more exacting. I don’t have time to spare, so want to spend it productively. No small talk allowed. Here’s my post:

    http://jlwrite.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/match-dot-mom/

  55. Well, it looks like you’re not alone in your loneliness! I made the same observation about my life probably a year ago and someone shared what a friend of hers told her. She observed that as people get older (over 30) they are more picky about the people that become their friends as they quickly turn down some opportunities from the very beginning, not seeing much in common with them. When you’re young(er) you’re more open-minded and curious about making friends, and as you get older, you only want to make friends with people who have similar tastes and interests. I don’t believe I’m like that (how boring life would be!) but I see how many people would be. It’s a sad but probably true observation.

    I too moved a lot in my life, changed jobs, had kids, and lost friends along the way. No matter what people tell you, you can maintain long-distance friendships, but it’s not the same as getting together with friends every few days or weeks and having a good time together. When I created my 101 in 1001 challenge list almost a year ago (http://perfectingmotherhood.wordpress.com/101-in-1001/) I decided to put on the list “make new friendships” because I found myself in a situation where I thought it was important for me. I have found two new friends since then and will probably update my challenge status soon.

    So yes, it’s hard to make new friends as you get older, but it’s possible and you never know where you may find them. I would suggest signing up for groups on Meetup that interest you. It’s a good way to meet new people there, and if you have similar interests, it might even help.

    Good luck!

    • I’ve been doing the meetup but only for parenting groups, maybe I should check out some other groups that I have interests in and see what happens there.

      I’ll have to check out your 101 in 1,001 challenge!

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a great response!

  56. wow…this hits home. good post, sir.

  57. We’re in the same boat. Moved to Boston for school and never returned to our hometowns (4 hours away) because of work opportunities. We’d love to ‘make new friends’, especially with new parents and community members, but between working fulltime (we both do) caring for our 5-month old, and our newly purchased fixer-upper home, where’s the time? Good thing we all have blogs to connect and realize we’re not the only ones… :)

  58. I’m at the end of my parenting role, and I am feeling lost. I don’t have a job, and I have not been socializing. The inbetween years were full of people and places, but I guess everything goes in cycles. I’m looking at it as a new challenge, and a new beginning. Timing is everything, and perhaps the timing just wasn’t right for you. As Thomas grows, you will find time and ENERGY to do other things. Let us all know how it goes!

  59. Went through the VERY same thing – my wife and I lived away for several years in the Navy. Had our oldest son during that time too. What you are going through is normal, with a really young kid at home it’s tough to get out and see people even if you ARE surrounded by family. Do what you can now, and rest assured that as Thomas gets older and starts school…gets involved in activities…etc. you will be surprised how many friends you will make who have a lot in common with you because of your kids!

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