Invisibility Cloak

It’s been really hard trying to adjust to life in Oregon.

People have been telling me that it’ll take time.  Like, 2 or 3 years.  You know, to find friends and get used to the rain.

Well, it’s been 3.75 years and I’m still waiting.  Waiting to feel…adjusted.

I’ve moved before and it hasn’t felt like this.  So I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out what is different about this time and this place.

Many things are different: this move is permanent, with no end date in sight.  I didn’t move here for a reason of my own, meaning that we moved here because of my husband’s job and not because of work or school for me.  We don’t have any family close, not anywhere in state.  I moved here 8 weeks pregnant and have been largely housebound raising kids ever since.  The weather suuuuuucks.

But all this I’d been over in my mind, again and again, and nothing felt heavy enough to be such a roadblock.  Perhaps all of them put together is what is blocking my road?

Of course, there’s more.  My life is pretty unrecognizable from what it was 4 years ago.  I was working full time, not yet married, not yet a mom (of two).  I had friends and family.  Hobbies.  A brain.  A life.

Now I feel like I am getting somewhere – that along with grieving the loss of my homeland (via the move), I am grieving the loss of my identity.  Before, I was a therapist.  A partner.  Active, creative, thoughtful.  Productive.  Energetic.  Mobile.  Free.

I look at the clothes hanging in my closet, and I don’t recognize the woman who wore those clothes.  She’s not me, but I kind of remember her, the way one remembers a grandmother who died when you were a child.  I deeply miss her.

I feel like becoming a capitol M-O-M has wiped out any identity I had that doesn’t pertain to my relationship with my kids.  People no longer ask about me, they ask about the kids.  Or they ask about how I am in relation to the kids, as a mom, and not as a person.  (Because moms aren’t people, you guys.)

Edit: To be fair, my momfriends very much DO genuinely ask how I am doing.  It’s just that most often, I’m unable to answer honestly or with much gory detail because of the circumstances (read: kids running around trying to kill themselves).

Make no mistake, I’ve definitely been making an effort to integrate myself into my new life.  This introvert and homebody has forced herself to join a moms club, get to library story times, and go to various playgroups.  I’ve made friends and enjoyed some of what Oregon has to offer.

What finally hit me was something my good friend said to me recently.  I was bitching about how being a mom gets in the way of making good quality friendships because even when my momfriends and I can get together we’re still always chasing after our kids and can’t have a decent conversation.  I can’t remember how the conversation went, but I think I said that my momfriends and I mostly talk about our kids because that’s what we have in common, but we don’t share who we are as people.  And she pointed out that none of the people I am meeting and trying to forge relationships with in Oregon knew me before I had kids.  I just read back what I typed, and I can see how that may not sound so earth-shattering, but it definitely felt that way to me.  Besides my husband and this particular friend, zero people in Oregon knew who I was before children.  There’s been essentially no carryover from my old life to the new one, in every way possible.  Ugh.

As I take this thought and play the tape through in my mind, I’m seeing another layer of difficulty in trying to make new friends: not only do we lack the logistical opportunities as moms, but I am working blind.  I don’t even know who this new me is yet, and no one here knew the old me, and in that sense I feel completely invisible – swallowed up by my children (and then pooped out for me to clean up).

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6 responses

  1. I’m sorry you’ve felt isolated since moving and becoming a mom. I can’t really offer any advice (…I also feel like I have no friends in my new home and I’ve been here just about exactly as long as you’ve been in OR)–all I can say is that childhood and all the heartache/sleeplessness/brain fog of early child rearing does actually zip right on by. At least it did for me the first time. Eddie was a singleton much long than Dylan was so I got a little break in babyhood before Luther came along. My experience is that once a child goes to preschool (or daycare), you can work to regain your sense of self. I mean, clearly you’re still a mom when they aren’t with you (ON you) all the time but having some alone time will give you some time to self-reflect (and eat sitting down in peace and quiet). For me, that self reflection was so important to figure out how to function in the world as a person who is now responsible for the lives of other people…and how I can relate to other people…and what I really want from THIS SEASON in my life. I feel like I’m still ME, still Julie, just a different version of myself. Parenting little ones is a season in your life, just like your own childhood or college years or grad school or early career. Each of those seasons surely changed you. I was so surprised by how isolating parenting can be. I get so hyper-focused on making sure that my household functions and I keep people/animals alive that I rarely put myself out there to meet new people. The only thing that has allowed me to connect with adults in my new community has been volunteering. My favorite is doing Meals on Wheels deliveries because the staff and the recipients all embrace me as a mom volunteer who hauls her kids along. I don’t have to make excuses about “oh sorry, I can only do this if my kids can come.” Anyway…hugs to you during this time. I think about you a lot. One day we’ll get up there to visit our family in Wilsonville and make sure to see you, too!

    • Thanks for writing your comment, very much.
      Part of the reason we chose to have kids fairly close together was so that we could get through this small child phase and move on with life.
      Yeah, D starts preschool in September, and I am looking forward to seeing if it will alter things for the better for us – I can only imagine it will. Buuut, I’ll still have the babe to care for. We’ll see.
      Thank you for reminding me about seasons. Yessss.

      You are always welcome to visit!!! Aaaany time.
      Hugs :)

  2. I’ve lived here 13 years – moved here to marry my husband & 8 have been as an at-home mom. Still feeling disconnected & tranformed as you described. Add to the mix that I am 52 & a mom-through-adoption. I now work PT as a school librarian. If you would like to meet for a walk or coffee – you can contact me with the email on this post. I am only recently talking in complete sentenced & our daughter rarely sleeps the whole night through so I am chronically sleep-deprived.

  3. 1. I’ve missed your blog. I’m glad to be reading it right now.
    2. I understand how you feel, how the identity of “mother” suddenly and soul-suckingly replaced any other or previous identity of self and how HARD that is. I send my hugs and solidarity, sister.
    3. Your friends’ words *are* earth shattering. It’s so hard making new friends when they don’t know your whole self. Hang in there.
    4.Time flies. Enjoy this weird phase whilenypu can. Before you know it, you’ll be sending your youngest off to kindergarten and re entering the workforce and suddenly feel scared of the change. Well, maybe you won’t, but that’s where I am now. And it’s weird.
    Ugh. Kids.

    • Thank you. You know, I have no idea who reads this thing anymore so it’s nice to get feedback at all.
      Yes, this is insanely hard.
      And I already know I’ll feel terrified going back to work when the time comes.

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