I am in the backyard with my kids, I’ve planted myself on the porch steps with a mug of green tea. It’s tasteless and unsatisfying but the warmth is what I want right now. My husband is away on a sailing trip for the weekend and so my Saturday has been focused on the kids, doing what they want and making sure they are enjoying themselves. Which is why we find ourselves in the backyard. Even though I would rather be at a cozy coffee shop with a friend, sipping a latte, I am in this cold, shaded backyard watching my sons in their mismatched hats and mittens, mud-streaked splash pants, playing with the random assortment of toys that lay messily around our overgrown grass.
Our neighbourhood is completely quiet except for my 3-year-old’s imaginative chitchat. I notice the impulse in me to break the silence. The craving I have for company in this moment. Kids bring a lot of noise into my life but motherhood is still a lonely occupation. I am aware of my thoughts as they search for ways to fill the silence. Who could I invite over for dinner? The chili is simmering away in the crockpot. I scroll through the contacts in my phone. Who should I text to see what they’ve been up to today?
This isn’t the first time my husband has been away. And it most definitely is not the first time I have spent the whole day with just my kids. The loneliness I am feeling makes me realize how much I depend on company, the assurance of my husband’s presence at the end of a work day, to end the loneliness of a day spent with the kids.
Yet even though I am longing for a friend I resist the impulse. Not because this desire is wrong or in any way harmful, but I want to stare this loneliness in the face. I want to breathe through it like I would a painful contraction. Knowing it will come again and I will want to meet it strong and ready, confident that it will pass and I will be okay.
If I, with a husband and 2 children, close friends, 2 living parents and 2 siblings in nearby neighbourhoods, can be struck with loneliness then I am sure it can strike anyone. And how much deeper might it sink into those people who do not have the support system that I have.
I want to be content in loneliness, without desperately trying to ignore it or cover it up with noise. I want to try it like a new food. Tasting its’ flavour, good or bad, out of curiosity. Because I want to understand life and everything it brings. And hopefully, when I see loneliness knocking at someone else’s door I can tell them it will be okay. That though they may feel it, they are not alone. And maybe together we can find our way through.