Friday, April 06, 2007

Hey There, Lonely Mom

by Paula Neal Mooney

In the shower, I dropped my face into my palms and cried; brief, audible weeping, drowned out by the sound of water streaming.


It was Saturday, May 12, 2001. In two days, my husband was scheduled to return to work. For the first time in more than a decade, I would not return to corporate America.


My new job was caretaker for our 2-week-old baby boy, swathed in his blue-striped, long-sleeved onesie, languishing horizontally in bed facing me, as I fell in love with his copper curly locks, his flashes of a smile dawning.


Outside of Christ, walking and writing became my salvation during those extended and isolated days — just me and my baby trotting on the edge of the world in California, where the storms rolled in unencumbered from the Pacific.


While my husband toiled away at a company, I wiled away the blistering hot days strolling my son around our picturesque ghost-town full of pricey homes a good hour’s drive away.


"What an irony," I thought as I peeked beneath the blanket covering the stroller’s plastic shield, checking that my son’s wide brown eyes had lulled closed into sleep, "that folks work so hard to obtain beautiful homes, but nary a mom can afford to stay home once they buy them."


Coldwater Canyon — that was the name of the unsold script that I wrote and rewrote, mostly in my mind, on those daily walks treading our subdivision’s four corners. I still can still the house in the cul-de-sac jutted up against the golf course, one of its garage window panes shattered, courtesy of a Tiger Woods wannabe, no doubt.



Some evenings when Chris called saying he wouldn’t make it home till after the "Entertainment Tonight" theme song, I’d head out with our firstborn for our second daily stroll, sometimes walking up to two hours a day.


"I don’t want to be lonely no more..."
It was a lonely time. It was an isolating time. It was a purifying time.


I found my niche in the silence and discovered the blessed, quiet reflection that accompanies living life in play mode, not continually on fast forward with the burnt-gold hills rushing past at 80 mph. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson discovering my own private Walden Pond, I finally had time to study the red berries hanging from trees and contemplate the colorful oleanders up close.


Solitude was hard, yet wondrous. My baby was an exhausting, yet beautiful, new chore. I chose time over money and quit my job. Therefore, it came time to downsize, so I went back to Ohio.


My city, Akron, was still there. Yet, 95 percent of my old friends were gone. Some were still at work, back at the same company where my husband now worked. Once again, it was another job I’d left, my cube long occupied by other bodies, until I took a brief reprieve from full-time mothering and returned to paid employment.


"Everybody’s talkin’ at me…"
That lyric describes exactly how I felt returning to a workday crammed with people galore. Adults. Talking and walking and chatting and lunching and working.


"I realized how much I missed people," I told one person after the next when they asked me how it felt to be back in the corporate game after three years in absentia.


I grew accustomed to the crowds and looking folks in the eye again. I liked it. I got comfortable; perhaps too comfortable. By the time us contractors were taken out to lunch and told over big burgers that our contracts wouldn’t be renewed, I was ready.


I was burnt out and tired. Besides, another world was calling me that I barely knew existed — subtle and compelling, like Cathy, the tormented heroine of Wuthering Heights, calling for the soul of Heathcliff.


Now and again, more than two years after I began my own blog — i.e., online journal — folks will still ask me, "What’s a blog?"


It’s not only cathartic; it’s not just a vehicle to make money, though I’m loving that aspect of it. More than anything, it’s the sense of community battling alienation and isolation that has surrounded me that is its best benefit.


Making cyber-friends with folks from Belgium to Turkey to a mile away from my house, my new career has been a salve and a time of sweet refreshing compared to those earlier, extra-lonely baby years.


Will I ever return to those days spent in gray cubicle land? Maybe.


I’m just so grateful to have a job that fulfills an inherent part of me – a personality that thrives somewhere between complete isolation and crowded absorption.


Blogging is my new baby, and we’re never alone.

9 comments:

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I left corporate america 17 years ago, to build a business of my own. I never looked back...and I would love to be able to blog all day as a job! :-)

Laura said...

Oddly enough, I was NOT lonely when I left corporate America. I say oddly, because I fully expected this to be a problem for me. It was not. Good take on the subject though.

kystorms said...

Today of all days Paula, it is good to give thanks for all we have, and I know I am not alone in giving thanks for a new friend in you! You are an awesome blogger, and what you do is helpful to so many of us.

God Bless

Paula Neal Mooney said...

God bless you all, Bonnie, Laura and Lisa, for commenting on this post.

And Tammy Grisby, for your email saying this touched a part of you that you didn't know existed.

I told her that you all are helping to fight the demons that say, "Nobody wants to read this crap..."

Happy Good Friday,
Paula

He is indeed good for dying for us!

KWiz said...

What an incredibly revealing post, Paula. As a teacher, I get 10 weeks off during the summer and experience that isolation, although on a temporary basis. I agree with you, being in community with other bloggers serves a purpose in lessening that isolation a bit. Thanks Paula!

Tisha! said...

Precious Paula, I have yet to experience the blessings of having a child and God willing I will before I am old and gray but I read your words and felt incredible sincerity, profound development and wisdom.

Good Easter to you darling and continue to be of great encouragement to us all!

BIG hug

A's Journey said...

You are right, it’s not only cathartic; or to make money. It is to meet each other!

Take care.

Denise said...

Great post, Paula.

Yolanda said...

Excellent writing Paula- you hit the nail on the head with this one. Blogging has opened up a whole new world for me and its definitely made my world a bit brighter.

Paula Neal Mooney