Motherhood can be very isolating. It’s one of those things no one seems to prepare you for, so after your baby is born and the loneliness sets in you’re wondering if you’re the odd man out. But you’re not. You may now have several kids and find yourself feeling lonely in the crowd that is your household. This shouldn’t be shocking. Babies aren’t great conversationalists. Partners who haven’t been through the hormonal roller-coaster that is pregnancy and birth aren’t always sympathetic to what new moms or second-time moms – all moms, really – go through during that first year of infancy.
As a mom, you may have felt supremely connected to your little one from the first moment you locked eyes. It’s not unusual for moms to feel like the sole caregiver even when they’re not. You are never off the clock, whether your children are in the room with you or a thousand miles away. Letting go completely is impossible so even when you’re supposed to be relaxing there will always be some small part of you that’s listening for a tiny wail. This in and of itself can be lonely because it can feel like it’s you against the world. How can you nurture a social life when you’re nurturing a baby? The truth is, you can’t – at least not in the way you once did.
You shouldn’t be surprised you’re a lonely mom. You’re exhausted. Everyone is telling you to get out there and meet moms but the idea of transitioning from yoga pants to jeans is just too much to bear. Your old friends are supportive but they’re not new moms. They’ve either never experienced the post-birth hormone hurricane or they’ve forgotten just what having a newborn is like. When you’re living through different ages and stages, bonding over spit-up and diapers is hard. Maybe there is some comfort in knowing that your friends with older kids are struggling with other kinds of stress.
But probably not. In the logical part of your brain, you know that you’re not the only one to have felt cut off from society by the arrival of a new baby. But your emotional center, which is currently operating on overdrive, would have you believe that you’re the only mother who has ever questioned whether spending all day, every day with a newborn is really all its cracked up to be. It’s only been a few weeks or months and already you want an escape. Does that make me a bad mom, you wonder there alone with your baby. Am I really cut out for this?
The answer is, of course, that you are and you always have been. All mothers have their doubts especially when they’re sleep deprived and baby’s first smile is still weeks away. Motherhood is in some ways the loneliest thing we do because as much as we love our partners and our families and our friends, most kids only have one mom and that means every mom is essentially mothering alone.
The only cure for the loneliness of motherhood is surrounding yourself with other moms who are at the same stage at you. New moms or toddler moms or moms of teens. When moms meet because they’re facing the same challenges, whether those are the challenges of an age or challenges like allergies, prematurity, or pediatric diabetes, something beautiful happens. The nitty-gritty of parenting still happens in isolation because so often moms are alone with their kids. But though you might be alone in practice, when you meet the moms who become your mom friends and then a life-saving network of support you’re no longer alone in spirit.
You may still be lonely from time to time but you’ll always have someone to turn to who gets what you’re going through and who – more importantly – gets you.