My love of taking part in internet comment sections is a new development for me, and I wonder if it has a slight reek of lonely awkwardness now that I see it written before me. Such an admission may very well carry with it the assumption of a lonely, sad, at least partially socially inept person...I hope I'm just paranoid.
From time to time I read disparaging commentary about mommy bloggers having too much time on their hands. Clearly full-time child care is not all that consuming, and we must be bored housewives with cute activities to occupy our vapid lives. Well, not only am I one of these illustrious mommy bloggers, but I also squirrel moments to comment on other people's work.
The funny thing is, or maybe predictable to those who know, I don't have all that much time; not for myself anyway. This isn't a complaint, rather a statement that's taken a long time to embrace. My son is about two-years-old, and I'm on the precipice of birthing a daughter. Since my son's pregnancy, the primary challenge for me was preserving who I was, only to realize who I was is mostly gone. The more apt project has been discovering who I am now.
As any primary caregiver of a toddler can tell you, the days are busy. I find myself considering activities for my son (and soon-to-be daughter), shepherding him to said activities, and generally trying to enrich his days with experiences. That sounds fancier than it is. At two my son is not content to just hang out at home, and I try to limit his exposure to technology. As a result, I've had to be creative to balance the risk of over scheduling and general debt due to activity enrollment with giving him things to do that I can manage as a very pregnant and uncomfortable woman.
My son naps and has brief periods of independent play. I try to leave him alone as much as he'll let me. This allows me to tend to my self-pursuits in halted increments that I've diligently created over the last year. I count my blessings that I've found an ideal volunteering opportunity that may very well turn into a part-time job I mostly attend to at home. It gives me personal fulfillment and new experiences in the areas I love, as well as interesting things to think about outside the realm of, "So, this is where Rorschach came up with all those images." My volunteering keeps me occupied anywhere from seven to fifteen hours a week depending on the project at hand, but it's at home with very little human contact.
Additionally, I write all kinds of things in the small moments I manage throughout the day. I blog my parenting experiences for many reasons that evolved as I've grown an audience. I write essays when I have something to say, but no one in particular to tell. I write short stories when inspiration strikes, and when I bump into a sentiment I need to hash out, but there is no real way to develop it than create a fiction. I submit some of my work to various publications and contests; mostly I'm serenaded by the deafening sound of crickets. But, it's a way to know someone else receives my thoughts, and that is comforting when I am in the throws of a social ebb.
When the priority is caring for a small child, it's quite stunning the effort that goes into every aspect of how one consumes time while managing self-care. When my son was born I prowled all sorts of free mom's groups and a few paid activities mostly designed for Mommies, but welcomed babies. I aggressively socialized; something I never felt a need to do before my son was born, but it paid off. I organized my own Mommy social group, and acquired a lovely collection of friends who sustained me for almost a year. But, things change. I still see my friends, but not nearly as much. Like my son, their children require attention and engagement, curtailing our languid strolls at the local mall. We are all so busy, and sometimes I go a week or two without having a conversation with anyone outside of limited pleasantries during scheduled programming.
Enter the latest self-preservation development: comment sections. I absolutely adore them. I read an article of interest which jump starts a conversation on a topic I don't have much time or opportunity to develop with someone in person. I can provide a thought or two if I feel so inclined, with the additional bonus of screening for my wandering foot that wreaks the most havoc when it is least convenient. If I'm lucky, I'll receive a response. But, really, comments are an opportunity, albeit imperfect, to engage with other people when I'm experiencing a drought of in-person interactions. I can feel heard, and maybe support someone else by providing humor or a trite likeminded story or statement. There is camaraderie and general company that allows me to bide my time when the world turns all around me, but I sit alone.