It’s pretty common to hear crazy, funny, and joyful stories of becoming a mother. What isn’t so common to hear are stories of the loneliness of motherhood. I’m referring to the everyday realness and hardships of being a mother, and not post-partum depression. As I acknowledge and reflect on my emotions as a mother it is startling to me how lonely I’ve felt at times during my short 3 years of being a mama. It’s difficult to put into words how these little bundles I’ve brought into the world make me experience such a wide arrange of emotions; pure bliss and utter loneliness all in the same day? Yup! Let me try and explain.
Nothing Can Prepare You For the Love That Comes With Motherhood
Before becoming a mom, nothing…nothing… can prepare you for the love you will feel for your children. Love is actually such a drastically inadequate word for what I feel for my children. It feels as if my entire heart and soul have been ripped open and given to these tiny people. Many days my face aches from smiling at them. I recently stumbled upon this quote by Elizabeth Stone: “Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Yes. I don’t even bother trying to explain to my friends without children what it’s like because it’s not something you can comprehend until you’ve been there.
“Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone
Nothing Can Prepare You For the Loneliness That Comes With Motherhood
Being a mom can be lonely. YES, it is the most joyful, rewarding, and amazing, thing I have ever done, but sometimes I am freaking lonely. When you have a newborn, you’re not supposed to leave the house, especially during cold and flu season. When my first, Theo, was a newborn I would go days in a row without talking to a single person until my husband got home from work. This is not normal, this is not good for us! My mom had Monday off and my sister had Wednesday off, and I looked forward to those days so I could at least talk to them on the phone all day. I kid you not…my sister would sometimes answer “Hello… for the 17th time today.” Having a sister is the best.
I am now out of the newborn stage. Theo is now 3, and I have 1-year-old twin girls. I wish I could tell you that all our days are all really great. That Theo never misbehaves, always cleans up after himself, and certainly never poops his pants. I’d like to tell you that the twins are just darling and never cry or scream. Doing laundry and preparing meals for 3 small humans doesn’t consume all of my energy. I never, ever feel as if I have no other purpose in life than to care for my children because the love overpowers the loneliness.
Real life now… It’s Thursday and I haven’t left the house since Saturday. My hubby leaves for work at 7:00 AM (or earlier), and gets home around 6:00. Not that it matters. If your husband is gone from 9:00-4:00, you’re still allowed to be lonely for those 7 hours. You’re still allowed to feel trapped by your children because you can’t leave the house or take a shower. BEING A MOM IS EXHAUSTING. I don’t care if you have 1 child or 10 children if you work or stay home. We all go through rough patches and we are all tired.
But What About Your Friends?
Before kids, you can go meet your friends for coffee/lunch/shopping/ WHENEVER YOU WANT. After kids, you can still do that but it’s so difficult it’s not even worth it. You have to pack basically everything you own and work around the baby’s schedule. They will definitely have a blow out 30 seconds before you leave. It’s an added difficulty if your friends have kids. If they don’t have kids, they probably have jobs and can’t just come drink coffee and watch Netflix with you all day. Not that that’s what life is like as a stay at home mom, but it’s definitely like that in the newborn phase with your first baby. It can be really lonely and isolating.
But What About the Working Moms…They Get to Have Human Interaction at Work
I committed to teaching a Saturday morning music class before I knew that I was pregnant with Theo, and I couldn’t get out of it. Classes started when he was 3 weeks old. I would drive to the campus and sit in my car and watch videos of my baby because I missed him so much. I can’t even imagine the loneliness of having to leave your children to go to work… every day. That doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong by working, and it does NOT mean that you don’t get joy and fulfillment from your job. I’m just saying that there is a different sort of loneliness that comes with being a working mom.
I’ve been a (part-time) working mom as well as a stay at home mom. It can all be lonely. Here’s the thing about moms. We want the best for our kids, so we are constantly second guessing ourselves. We frequently think we are wrong, and everyone else is rocking this motherhood thing. Mom guilt happens whether you are staying home or working, and guilt…that’s a really lonely feeling.
Your Journey in Motherhood is Unique
Every child is so drastically different. You will get to a point where you experience something that nobody in your mom group has dealt with, and that is a scary, feeling. Or, maybe your child does something and you react differently than all the other moms would have. All of a sudden you will feel like you are on this little parenting island, all by yourself, waving to the other moms who would have all made a different decision.
You Are Responsible for the Wellbeing of your Children
Theo was a few months old when the realization set in that I was in charge of his life. I was responsible for his health and safety and suddenly the world was a very scary place. I would wake up at night in cold sweats, having had a nightmare that we were driving over a bridge and it collapsed underneath us. In the middle of his nap, I would panic that someone was in his nursery trying to take him. Being a mom makes you so aware of everything you can’t protect your children from forever, and it is a lonely feeling. EVERYBODY WILL TELL YOU THAT MOTHERHOOD IS HARD – but you can’t understand it until you experience it yourself.
Being a mom makes you so aware of everything you can’t protect your children from forever, and that is a solitary feeling.
Why I Won’t Tell My Friends Without Kids How Lonely It Can Be
Recently, one of my close friends approached her due date and I wanted so desperately to warn her of the loneliness she was about to encounter. To tell her it was normal to feel as if she ruined her life, that she hadn’t and the feeling would pass. But I didn’t. I wasn’t going to spew negativity at her when she was so excited to meet her baby. I did make sure I was available to talk soon after the baby was born. Her voice shook as she told me everything was great and how much she loved her baby. After gentle prompting, with tears in her voice, she said “I just had no idea it would be this difficult. I stay home all day long and it’s so lonely. I’m used to getting dressed for work and leaving the house. I didn’t expect it to be this hard.”
Mamas, it is normal to feel this way, and you have not ruined your life. Once your baby starts sleeping, you forget about the stress they caused you and decide to have another and it turns out to be twins. Or maybe that’s just me…
How Do You Overcome This Feeling of Loneliness
Ok, well first, stop second guessing yourself and feeling guilty about every parenting decision you make! Then, get out of the house. Make a plan in the beginning of the week of things you are going to do. Go to Target, go for a walk, even just go to the Starbucks drive through. It’s a start!
For me, starting this blog has helped immensely with my feelings of loneliness 🙂 I have a much needed creative outlet, and I feel as if I have a purpose, other than being a mom.
Are you a Mama who experiences loneliness? Maybe you don’t experience it at all? I want to hear from you!