If you want to know what it’s like to feel lonely in a crowd, just have a couple of kids. Seriously. Children demand so much from us mamas but it takes them quite a while to master the art of giving in return. And when it comes to conversation? Forget about it.
Those first few weeks and months of new motherhood are surprisingly isolating – much to the shock of the many women who assumed they’d just be welcomed into an invisible sisterhood of mamas when their first born came along. Even older kids – the kids you love with every fiber of your being – can seem mysterious and distant sometimes. They’re with you but they’re your responsibility, not your rock.
It’s something very few mothers talk about. Maybe because we’re all too afraid to admit that our babies and our children don’t fulfill all our needs. That being mama isn’t enough. Being a mother is amazing and gratifying and beautiful but even so, it can be pretty lonely, too.
Maybe you’re a stay at home mom who isn’t getting out of the house much because it is hard. Maybe you are a working mom who isn’t getting out of the house much because it’s hard. Fact is kids make meeting moms and making mom friends and staying social hard no matter what your day to day looks like.
So what do you do about loneliness in motherhood? There’s no one perfect solution but I can tell you what has worked for me and my mom friends…
1. Give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling. Motherhood is lonely for a lot of mamas and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s a reason I brought up kids and conversation. Feeling like you don’t have anyone to talk to stinks! Being stuck at home with a sick kid stinks! Being a mom isn’t all fun and games.
2. Make phone calls, not Facebook posts. Social media is great but you have to admit it’s light on the socializing! When you sit down with a mom friend and talk about what’s going on in your lives, something clicks and you both feel better about all the craziness and the chaos that is being a mom.
3. Pretend you’re footloose and fancy free again. Once in a while (if you’re like me, once in a very long while), get a sitter, grab your partner, and re-live your pre-kid days for a few hours. If you’re feeling closer to your partner chances are you won’t feel as lonely.
4. Do something that is not mothering. I read something recently that said motherhood is not inherently lonely, but mothering to the exclusion of all else is. Rediscover your hobbies, go for a run without the jogging stroller, start a blog, or join a book club. Anything that reminds you that there’s a me in mama.
5. Widen your network – i.e., put yourself out there. Make the effort to get out there and see what the local moms in your area are up to. But be patient. Not every mama group will be a good fit. The cool mom at the playground may never email. Making friends is just as nerve wracking as you remember but so worth it in the end!
I think that in the end, motherhood can and will sometimes be lonely. That doesn’t mean it has to be lonely all the time.