So the last two services we've been at church I've sat on the other side. For two years, Dyami and I have sat in the back left side of the sanctuary. The last two times I've sat in the back right.
I felt awkward and weird and guilt-ridden and good and relieved to make the change. I'm a creature of habit, so when I make these changes, they are very deliberate.
See, the left side had been depressing me.
No, nothing about the paint colors or the view of the pulpit. Left side is just where most of the friends we've made in the last couple of years sit.
But on the left side, there aren't any babies. Or mommies.
With Lucy being born, our old life seems to have turned red, then brown, then shrivelled and dropped off the tree altogether. I feel like we've been gone for years, and have lost connections to nearly everyone. That even our old friends are now new, and everything must be renegotiated. And that old habits don't work so well anymore.
When doing anything post-Lucy, I find I'm less frustrated and sad if I just abandon the "old way" of doing them. Grocery shopping, driving, errands, hanging out with friends, eating dinner, watching TV--we just do everything differently.
Usually the actual physical change is forced on me; I no longer can read a book at the drop of a hat; if Lucy is intent on doing something else, then the book gets put down. Same with say, sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom.
But the inside attitude, that takes a long time to shift. I will persist in trying to do things I can't do any longer; go meet friends even when it patently interferes with her nap, drive to school when she doesn't like the car; have dinner out when she still doesn't like sitting in a high chair. I bang my head against the wall a few times, and then I make the mental shift that matches the physical reality.
But church--well, church has been hard.
For one thing, our church 'gig' was playing in the worship band. Dyami has gone back to that, but I have not, not so much. We're still working on the childcare thing.
So even in the 'old days', I didn't sit down in back much--just during sermons and such. I didn't have a pew marked with my name, in other words. I didn't have people that expected me to be there.
That has made this transition more lonely, I think. Because the shift has been more dramatic than just sitting in the pew + baby. I didn't really used to sit in the pew much, at all.
Now that I do, I need pew buddies. I don't really have any. I have a left side couple with a baby that is able to make it sometimes--but only sometimes. The service isn't at a great time for baby people.
The other problem is that it's hard just sitting anywhere. I sit in the back, so as to be able to get out of the service relatively easily. And on the aisle. Which is back behind where all of our left-side friends sit.
I think people kind of forget we're there.
Also, usually it's just me (Dyami's up front playing bass), so I'm more isolated than usual.
And Lucy makes all kind of noises now, so during the sermon, I generally try to get out of there. During the music, she's not so audible or distracting.
We also have to rush out of the service most nights, because it's usually past Lucy's bedtime. So there's no going out to dinner afterwards, or chatting with bunches of people.
Also, I think I'm slightly paranoid. They're ignoring me!, I think, when really people aren't doing anything of the sort. So that makes me sort of suspicious and irritable.
Oh, and there's the fact that I'm not so great in large groups as it is.
What I realized, though, is that there are several other young mothers on the right side. Some that I know well, some that I don't know very well at all.
Many get together after the service and chat, depending on the day, and the state of the kiddies.
And it occurred to me, sitting on the left side two weeks ago, that I could have some pew buddies, and people to chat with briefly after the service, and compatriots, if I just switched sides.
I did, and I was suddenly surrounded by other babies, and moms, and I felt much, much better.
It makes me sad that somehow, for whatever reason, being on the old side made me feel isolated, lonely and paranoid. Why is that?
I didn't want to feel like being a mommy turned me into a snob or a mommies-only type of person. And yet surrounded by people without kids, I long for some other moms.
It makes me wonder what my childless friends think of me. Do they feel like I've changed, become more unavailable? Do they not notice? Do they think I'm smug or self-absorbed or stand-offish?
I don't know. I wish I did. I wish I could go back and forth over this wall that parenthood creates between the Old Life and New, but I can't. When I try, I get very, very tired and sad.
It's easier just to switch sides.