I don’t want anyone (man or woman) thinking that just because I and others are home a whole day now, we aren’t doing much except some meal planning, laundry, and playing with our kids in a Norman Rockwell type of way. If I hear from one more person, “Now you see what a stay-at-home mom has it like,” I’ll yell. In fact, I did yell at the last person who said that (and I apologized afterwards). Staying home during the pandemic is not like being a stay-at-home mother. I’m sure stay-at-home mothers would agree.
Let’s just list a couple of things that are not the same:
- My four-year-old would be in school! I love this girl more than anything, but if I have to watch her sing and dance “Let it Go” or record her on my phone (by her decree) and copy the moves from a Latvian girls’ dance troupe while trying to mime the words four-to-ten times a day, I may have a real breakdown. My adorable, lovable, and apparently talented daughter would be in school and not in a class where I have to supervise her like on Zoom. She finds “school time the time to do everything else but sit still. So here I am next to her reading along about plants (shout out to Morah Eileen’s class).
- If things were “normal,” I’d be able to run errands with my son. Nowadays, I’m afraid to take him into stores, and I’ve noticed people muttering to themselves when they see kids in stores, “Should be home… irresponsible… spreading germs…” I am mostly home with my children; and when we do go out, it is for walks or to ride a bike. Then I have to find time to go to the store and either stand in line to get into the store or stand on a loooong line in the store (not complaining – stay safe). So I have to schedule store runs with my husband, because the kids can’t come with us and we aren’t calling a babysitter, so it’s gotta be one of us – and did I mention we are both trying to work, emphasis on trying. This leads me to…
- I would not be working from home in addition to being a fulltime mommy if I was a stay-at-home mother! Being a fulltime stay-at-home mom is a very hard job. I always gave credit to those who did it. The day is jam-packed without trying to find a “quiet corner” in my apartment to participate in a weekly conference call with the New York State Department of Health. Trying to do all that has to be done for work, in between performances, walks, Zoom, laundry, and supper – no this is not a picnic, and no we are not in this “together,” because I would have noticed you in my small apartment since my husband and I have not stood more than ten feet apart for the last month. (Again, not complaining. Just stating facts. Social distancing. Stay safe.)
These are the reasons (and more) of why I literally spent three minutes on Facebook one night before my eyes involuntarily closed (it was only 10:15, not 2 a.m.!) and I was swallowed by that deliciousness called sleep. I wanted to have five minutes doing something adult-like before going to bed, and Facebook was the answer. But I fell asleep mid-read. The next day, I tried to find the post I had been reading, but no luck. Guess my eyes and brain aren’t on the same team when you’re that tired. I know which group it was in and I thought I read the name of the poster, but my brain didn’t remember it. I looked and looked (even) in different groups but was unable to find the post. I will write what I remember, because it was the basic message of the post I want to comment on, so I don’t need the nitty-gritty details. If someone is out there who knows which post I am speaking of, please email me and tell me where it is so I can finish reading it.
The poster wrote how she feels as if she lost her best friend. Her best friend recently got married, and it’s as if she has fallen off the planet. The poster feels so alone. She understands that her friend’s life is different now and how busy she may be, but she has not heard one word from her newly married friend and it is literally killing her. During this time of distancing, we need friends and even co-workers to talk to. Take it from me, talking to a four-year-old and a one-year-old doesn’t cut it in terms of conversation! And for this young woman to be living on her own and now not even to be able to talk to her best friend makes social distancing even worse for her. The poster also wrote that she didn’t want to tell her best friend how she feels like she was dumped like last week’s garbage on the side of the road, because she doesn’t want to bring her newly married friend down or make her feel obligated to call.
Been there, done that – a few times. I’m not sorry to say that I was a part of three or four friend groups while single, but then as people in the group got married, I slowly lost touch with the girls. I would call them a few weeks after the wedding. I’d leave a voicemail or two, or send a text, but there were some friends that never returned the call or text. Then there were some who did, but the conversations lasted about five minutes with promises to “talk soon,” but we never did. I’m not angry about all this. I expected this. My mother a”h told me to expect this as she had experienced the same until she married my father. I just picked myself up, went to a singles event, and met a girl who would become a new friend of mine (very true story), until she married, and I had to do it all over again.
I told myself I would never ever do that to my single friends when I married. I knew how it felt to be dropped like a hot potato only to begin again, but I didn’t mind. I’m social. I made new friends easily. I brushed myself off and did it three or four times. But to this day, I still text, WhatsApp, or call my single friends a few times a week. We haven’t been able to get together for about four or five months because it’s hard for all of our schedules to have free time at the same time, but I don’t get together with married friends more often (or even at all). I still feel like my friends are very much a part of my life and I theirs. And you know what? It wasn’t that hard! I wanted my friends in my life and have kept them in my life. I don’t want to hear that garbage that “shanah rishonah is so hard and you’re so busy.” All of that is true, but if you want to keep your friends, you send texts or something, even while you’re in the bathroom if that’s the only time you have. It’s not like they are ice cream, and all of a sudden you’re lactose-intolerant; and even if you are, there’s a pill for that.
My heart went out to this mature woman posting that she felt as if she has been left behind and forgotten by her friend. As if my heart didn’t bleed for the poster enough, it bled more when she wrote that she didn’t want to tell her best friend how she felt because she didn’t want to hurt or, yet the poster was very clearly hurt by the friend’s inactions and sudden case of amnesia. I have written this before, but I will write it again and again if I have to: Yes, getting married is exciting and you’re moving into a new apartment or house, very tired and overwhelmed for the first few weeks, with sheva brachos, and then returning to work or school and, yes, you have new responsibilities and your free time isn’t really yours to spend doing whatever you want anymore. But eventually you develop a routine and a normalcy that will allow you to return to some of your old habits from when you were single. An “older single” should understand this more than a younger single. A 30-, 35-, 45-year-old knows how much it hurts when you feel that you are left in the dust by a “besty” (and it has happened to all of us at least once – male and female). This woman was basically asking for someone to be her friend! She was offering herself to be a friend to someone and for someone to reciprocate the action! Oyyy. And I think a fell asleep a line or two after I read that.
I am not ashamed to say that my sister found me my last group of friends when I was single, and these are the same friends I write about in articles and still WhatsApp weekly! I had been traveling to Baltimore more so than usual one year. My sister asked me about me spending time with friends, and I had joked that she and my nieces were my friends. I guess my sister felt bad and asked one of her Baltimore friends, who is originally from Brooklyn, if she had any single friends for me in New York. It turns out that one of the single friends was a therapist for the agency I work at, and we actually worked on a case together a couple of years earlier, but we never took the relationship past “professional therapists on a case.” Long story short, the therapist called me, we went to dinner with two other single friends of hers, and seven years later we are still here trying to arrange get-togethers.
Bear with me for a short but very true story: I had been friends for years. I thought we were good friends; we called each other often, went out together. Anyway, the last time I had heard from her was about two weeks before her wedding, 15 years ago. I chose not to bother her for the first month of marriage, to let her try to settle into her new life. I then sent one text. A couple of days later sent another. A few months ago, at a friend’s simchah, was the first time I had seen or heard from her since her wedding! Under my breath, but only loud enough for my husband to hear, I muttered, “Not here. Don’t sit here. Not here…” as I saw her approaching our table with her husband. But of course, they sat down at our table right next to my husband and me. Turns out our husbands have a lot in common and spoke the whole time. She and I would exchange smiles, ask about children, and then get “busy” with our phones. My husband had a great time with her husband and wanted to know why we didn’t hang out with this couple. “Not my fault. She dropped me as soon as she got married. I tried to stay in touch, but when my calls and texts weren’t returned for a few months, I got the message loud and clear.” He laughed and said it was funny to see me and her sitting in silence while he and her husband were the ones gabbing all night. Hysterical. I didn’t want to pretend even for one minute that she and I were still friends and nothing had changed in 15 years. It’s like as soon as she got married, she was only able to speak with married people, because I know of friends with whom she kept in touch. And yes, I am still hurt. And if she is reading this article and figured out it’s her – good. Now you know how not texting, calling, emailing, snail-mailing me after you got married affected me. It made me feel as if our years of friendship prior to her marriage didn’t mean anything to her.
What I am trying to say is that I wanted to keep my friends, so I kept them and it wasn’t that hard. Calling while I was commuting to and from work, texting for three seconds while trying to pay attention to a webinar, sending a text on their birthday – I didn’t have to devote half an hour twice a week to them in order to keep them as friends. The little things I did were what counted and that they told me they appreciated. Don’t become one of those people you hate and talked about while single when you get married.
Why should a grown woman feel like she was dumped by her best friend and cry out of loneliness on Facebook to strangers – and strangers is what we all are on Facebook. We are not “friends” on Facebook, even if we are part of the same group. We’ve never met, and I only know what you choose to post; for all I know, you’re catfishing (if unfamiliar, look that term up in a previous article, titled Catfished). I am telling all (male and female) that stopping to talk to friends because of “shanah rishonah” is not an excuse; or if it is, it only works for so long. Don’t drop friends. Plain and simple.
Hatzlachah to you all!