I have my blog to thank for many of the things I love most about my life in the here and now. Job? Check. A reader sent me the link to the online posting. Boyfriend? Check. I met him through a reader who has become a close friend in real life. Speaking of which, social life? Check. A fair number of the people with whom I regularly socialize are readers who have become flesh-and-blood friends. Sanity? CHECK. While I don't blog nearly as much as I used to, blogging, the feedback I get on my posts, and the interaction I've had with the Internets have been a vital part of both my grief and parenting processes.
A few of us in the office were talking about parenting the other day. I was saying how much I love parenting six year olds. Most parents do. The ages of six to, oh, eight or ten or something are known as the Golden Years, and it's easy to see why. All of a sudden, the fruits of all of those parenting labors start coming to bear, and you can see your children becoming fully functional independent beings who still love to spend time with you, their parent, more than anyone else in the world. It's great.
For me this is in sharp contrast to the early years with Maddie and Riley, from birth to age three, or even four. I know our circumstances were not ideal in those years. Be it that or just my temperament, I found those years incredibly hard. I can look back now and see the good parts, and there were plenty of happy, rewarding, joyful times that rise to the surface. But, as I shared with my coworkers, I also remember times of extreme isolation and loneliness. I've never felt more alone than I did on nights when I was up at 2 a.m., by myself with two crying, inconsolable babies. What got me through that was thinking about other people who were up with crying babies, too, and knowing that those folks were in that with me, even if I couldn't see them.
I need to feel connected with other people or I feel lost, almost meaningless. It's almost as though something hasn't really happened for me if no one else was there to bear witness to it. This has become slightly less true for me as time has gone on, but it's still the case that I love the company of others. Being a single parent presents logistical challenges, for sure, but for me the biggest challenge of single parenting has always been the isolation. Regular 2 a.m. wakings are thankfully no longer a part of my routine, but even once those passed, in the early years I still found it lonely to deal with all of the work--and the joy--of parenting on my own.
Now that Maddie and Riley are older, I get a lot of social interaction from them. I think that's one of the reasons it's been easier for me to enjoy parenting, and to feel like I'm doing a reasonable job of it, at this age. I also have many more accessible social outlets now. I have an au pair, so there's another adult in the house a lot of the time, plus I have more freedom to go out in the evenings once the kids are in bed. I have El Verdadero. We live close to family. We have a lot of friends. I'm not exhausted the way I was when the kids were babies and toddlers, so I can enjoy and appreciate my social outlets more.
Ever since my blogging frequency dropped precipitously, I've been trying to figure out why. There's no way I'm more busy now than I was when I blogged daily. There's no way I'm more tired or more stressed. There's no way I have less to say. Anyone who knows me can assure those with doubts that I always have something to say.
I think it's this: I have more in-real-life connections than I used to, connections I know I can count on, connections that aren't going away (barring unforeseen circumstances). Sometimes the online connections--the blogs, Facebook, text messages, email, Twitter, all of it--pull me away from my real-life connections. When my access to real-life connections was more limited, I put more time into the online connections. Now I put more time into the real-life connections. It's not that one is more valuable than the other. It's just a matter of not being able to be fully invested in all of them.
I don't know what that means for blogging. This is not an "I quit" announcement by any stretch. It's just an "A-ha!" moment of realization about why the pull to blog hasn't been as strong for a while, and a moment to pause and think about all ways in which blogging has bettered my life, as well as all the ways in which my everyday connections better my life, too.
Thanks, friends, those of the Internet type, the in-real-life type, and those who are both. Here's to 2013: friendships, reading, running, blogging, cooking, connections, and many other things good for us all.