I Felt Completely Alone In My Parenting Journey

Just because you are part of a couple doesn't mean you won't sometimes feel alone in the adventures of parenting

When our first child was born, I was overwhelmed by the amount of love I had for him the instant I laid eyes on him. We had a bond that could not be shaken, and I loved dedicating every moment to his care. When I expressed these feelings to my husband, I was shocked when he didn’t feel the same. He had a very demanding career that kept him away at odd hours, and he hadn’t had the chance to bond with our little man the way I had.

When our second child arrive—a little girl—I was overwhelmed again. This time the overwhelming feeling of love was met with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. I wondered how I could handle two little ones practically on my own. By this time, my husband was working two jobs and taking classes part-time at a local university. I knew I wouldn’t have much help at home, but I hoped that he would build a better bond with this baby.

Though we had discussed family at length in our early days of dating and marriage—how many kids we wanted, how we would raise them, etc.—all that changed when they were actually here. I found myself making the majority of household decisions and creating rules alone, only for daddy to come home and try to change everything. We were not on the same page at all, and disagreed on some fundamental parenting issues.

When he would tell me how he would handle a problem, I would respond with “You’re not here, you don’t understand why that won’t work!’ and that would only make the problem worse. I felt misunderstood and judged on my parenting decisions by the very person who was supposed to be my partner in this journey. And he felt guilty for not being home more to help.

I felt alone and didn’t know where to turn. We had recently moved into a third floor apartment building where we were the only family in our building. I didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood. We only had one car which my husband used to get to school and work, and there was not much in the way of family friendly entertainment close by that I could walk to. I felt alone, isolated and trapped. Many days I wondered how I was going to get through.

One day, my son climbed on to my lap after nap time with a book. He was big into trains, and had found the story The Little Engine That Could. The story goes that a very heavy train cart needed to be pulled over a mountain range, and all the larger locomotives asked to haul it refused due to the weight of the train. Finally, the littlest engine in the yard was asked if he could haul the train, and he responded with “I think I can.” The heavy haul was hooked up and as the little engine began the journey he chanted, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” All the way up to the top of the hill he continued to chant. Even when things got steep and his chant grew fainter and slower paced, he continued until he reached the top of the hill. When he reached that milestone, he raced down the other side chanting, “I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could.”

I finished reading the story and was in tears. I knew this simple children’s story was exactly what I needed. I was that little engine and my children were the train that needed me to pull them up the mountain. They needed me to get them to the top, to teach them the things they needed to know to be successful in the world. Though it would not be an easy journey, I knew with the right attitude I could do it.

My outlook on life totally changed. Instead of thinking “I can’t do that” and coming up with an excuse as to why, I remembered the story and thought that I could. Though my new mentality wouldn’t fix everything, it definitely seemed to help. Looking back on those early days as a young mother, I won’t say it was easy.  There were still many times that I felt alone, but with my can-do attitude, I was able to pull through and find more joy in the things I was able to accomplish. I am now able to look back on that period of my life and chant, “I knew I could, I knew I could, I knew I could.”

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