Friday, May 18, 2012

No Need to Fear Lonely Days

MY TURN Boston Parents Paper When I became a parent a litt le over a decade ago, I was worried about feeling disconnected. Th ose “in the know” warned me I would feel isolated and long for adult conversation. Apparently, when it comes to connecting, the experts agree. According to Th omas Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, staying connected is good for our mental and physical health. He adds that establishing friendly ties lowers stress, increases immunity, and boosts the amount of support we receive. Having spent 20-plus years in the working world surrounded by adults, I thought my friends and the experts were probably right, but fi gured I would learn to cope. Imagine my surprise when, as a new parent, I not only did not feel disconnected, but, rather, felt more connected than ever before in my pre-parent life. I’ve tried to fi gure out why I don’t miss adult conversation and enjoy being surrounded by the younger set. Maybe my transition to mom-hood was helped by a post-baby, part-time work schedule. Still, I noticed that when working at my part-time job, I tended to sneak stealthily into the offi ce, get my work done, and get the heck out before my colleagues even knew I was there. I defi nitely wasn’t craving adult interaction. What was wrong with me that I was content to interact with babies and toddlers for a good part of the day? After pondering this pattern for a few weeks, I figured out that I wasn’t disconnected at all; I was just reconnecting to a diff erent part of my adult life. For the fi rst time since we moved to our neighborhood, I know our mailman’s name, that our neighbor has two kids and three grandchildren, and that Julie and Tom across the street run a successful business from their home.Aside from the personal stuff , I also know what is happening in our community. I am in tune with the latest debate over the local high school, who is in the lead for alderman, and when the mayor is holding his annual spring celebration. In fact, I even have time to volunteer at the library and lend a hand in my daughter’s classroom. Instead of racing in and out of the grocery store on my way home from the offi ce, I can now spend time perusing the aisles. I know some of the checkout people if not by name then at least by face. And I fi nally have time to debate the best cuts of meat with the butcher. The truth is, being at home has connected me to a completely diff erent circle, but one I enjoy immensely. I feel a rush of warmth when I yell “good morning” to the delivery person, a sense of satisfaction when I stop to chat with a neighbor during my morning walk, and a new bond with the parents of my daughter’s classmates. I used to worry about what would become of our only child. Without siblings or cousins to share childhood milestones, would she grow into an adult somehow lacking in basic human interaction skills? Now I realize that our daughter will connect in new, diff erent, and just as meaningful ways through friends, neighbors and her community. And if she’s really lucky, she’ll discover these connections a lot sooner than I did. Who knew that spending my days with the younger set would open up a whole new adult world, too? ■ Roberta Martone Pavia is a mother and writer in Newton. My Turn gives our readers a voice. Interested in submitting an opinion piece? Email us at The opinions represented in this article do not necessarily refl ect the views of the Boston Parents Paper. Roberta Martone Pavia Content is copyright protected and provided for personal use only - not for reproduction or retransmission.