I am writing this sitting at yet another empty park. Where have all the moms gone? Up until about 8 or 9 years ago, I could take my kids to the park and know that there would be another lonely mom looking for some adult interaction. Now, when I go to the park, it is me, my littles, and the lawn maintenance man. I think I have spent more hours in the company of the lawn maintenance man than any other adult in the last few years.
My daughter just ran up to me and said, “Why are there never any kids at this park?” That is a really good question. I guess I am not the only one who noticed the emptiness.
I think it was the invention of the internet that ruined being a stay at home mom. While it gave us a global community, it totally wrecked the local one. A mom can sit inside her house and chat with other moms around the world 24 hours a day, and completely ignore the mom next door. The percentage of U.S. moms on Facebook has grown rapidly, from 50 percent in 2010 to 72 percent in 2012.
I saw a mom post on Facebook the other day that said “I haven’t read a book since the invention of twitter.” I think there are a lot of us who haven’t had a meaningful conversation with another person in real life since the invention of twitter. When I complain about the lack of companionship to my husband, he says who cares? Why can’t you just be happy hanging out with kids? Clearly, he is not a mom and does not know how much women need their girlfriends.
I don’t think I like this new world. I think there are a lot of lonely women now who don’t even know why they are sad, lonely and depressed. According to a new Gallup analysis of more than 60,000 U.S. women between the ages of 18 and 64 (before retirement age) interviewed in 2012 found that 28 percent of stay-at-home moms reported depression a lot of the day when asked how they were feeling the day before, but only 17 percent of employed moms did. I would guess the reason is the huge lack of adult interaction in stay at home moms.
A study published in this month’s Journal of Family Psychology, found that working mothers were less depressed and reported better overall health than moms who stayed at home with their kids who were not yet in school.
I recently conducted an experiment to see the effects of cell phones on friendship. I cancelled my cell phone contract. Coincidentally that is the same day I lost all of my friends. I did not hear from or see any of my friends until March and that was in response to an SOS blog post about my loneliness. I saw two friends in April and it is now the end of May with little contact. Even though I was conducting this experiment in the name of science, I was still plunged into despair with essentially 4-5 months of no adult contact.
15 years ago when I had kids the same ages as my younger kids are now, my neighbors were always out when the kids were. We had some of the best times sitting in lawn chairs chatting while the kids played. In the last 10 years, I have been alone in my driveway…I don’t think I got suddenly despicable, I think the culture of motherhood changed.
The kids are all still out playing in the driveway, but there is not a mom in sight. Where have all the moms gone?