Friday, May 18, 2012

No Need to Fear Lonely Days

Boston Parents Paper /April 2012 My Turn By Roberta Martone Pavia When I became a parent a decade ago, I was worried about feeling disconnected. Those “in the know” warned I would feel isolated and long for adult conversation. Apparently, when it comes to connecting, the experts agree. According to Thomas 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 figured 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 figure 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 into the office, get my work done, and get the heck out before my colleagues even knew I was there. I definitely wasn’t craving adult interaction. After pondering this pattern for a few weeks, I figured out that I wasn’t disconnected at all; I was just reconnecting to a different part of my adult life. For the first time ever I know our mailman’s first name, that our neighbor has three grandchildren, and Julie across the street runs a successful business from her 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 elections, and when the mayor is holding his spring celebration. Instead of racing around the grocery store on my way home from work, I can now spend time perusing the aisles. I know some of the checkout people if not by name at least by face. The truth is that being at home has connected me to a completely different circle, but one I enjoy immensely. I feel a rush of warmth when I yell “good morning” to the delivery man, and a sense of satisfaction when I stop to chat with a neighbor. I used to worry about what would become of our only child. Without siblings 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, different, 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 writer and mother 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 reflect the views of the Boston Parents Paper.

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