When we were living in East Tennessee during medical school, both my husband and I noticed a change in our outside relationships when we had children. Friends would call late at night to invite us out with them on the town and though there were a few times that my husband or I went without the other, most of the time, we declined to go because we felt bad leaving one parent at home with a baby. After you say "no," a few times, the friends stop calling. The life of a mother isn't glamorous and though I had some single/childless friends who would come by to visit, the visits weren't as frequent or exciting.
When we moved to Virginia, we knew it would only be for a year and frankly, I didn't want to spend a lot of time making friends. If you're a parent - especially a stay-at-home parent - chances are you won't make a lot of single/childless friends anyway. If I go out somewhere, my kids are with me. And the places that I take my kids are places where you typically don't find a lot of single/childless people wanting to make friends (i.e. the library, the toy store, the grocery store, the park, the children's museum, etc.). So that leaves other moms and dads with which to cultivate friendship.
I'm sure I'm not the only one, but does anyone else feel like it can be hard to make friends with other parents? Being a parent involves making a LOT of choices about... everything. What your kid eats, when/where/how they sleep, what clothes they wear, what toys they play with, how you discipline, what things they watch on tv.... And let me just tell you, if you think you can be mommy-friends with just any other parent, you're probably wrong. It's hard to cultivate a good friendship with someone who you disagree with about basically everything - especially when you feel like it's all going to rub off on your own children. Having kids does not make you instantly compatible.
Not to mention, some parents are apparently in some competition I didn't know about. You know the one. The "Who is Raising the Best Child?" competition. Yeah... that whole thing can also make it hard to find friends. So... I just didn't really make a lot of friends here this past year. I pretty much have ONE in town. I know it sounds bad, but I didn't want to put any time or effort into TRYING to make friends when I knew I'd be moving somewhere else in a year. It hasn't been that bad really... being lonely. But now that it's been almost a full year, I'm feeling the pain of loneliness.
I have sworn to myself that after we move to Japan, I'm going to put forth a lot of effort to get involved with some groups/organizations... something... for myself and for the kids. I'm not going to know the language of the area I'm in, I'm probably going to face a deployment at some point in the first year, and I'm going to be living in Japan for at least 3 years. I've made it through this year on my own, but in these last few weeks, it's getting to me a little bit. I can't make it alone for 3 more years.
Being a stay-at-home-mom means that I'm surrounded by two other little people all day long. And surprisingly, being with children all day long can be some of the loneliest work around. If you have a friend with kids, drop by and chat with her for a few minutes. I guarantee she'll appreciate it.