The Truth about Loneliness & Motherhood
I’m so excited about today’s post because, a. this is a topic that is not discussed enough, and b. you’re going to get the perspective of four other Chicago mamas on the topic! For today’s motherhood post, I’ve partnered with Shaheen, Kelly, Emily and Arin and you can read about their thoughts on the topic of loneliness.
This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a long time, but every time I sat down to write it, I felt a little guilty. Why? Because, even though I do feel lonely sometimes, I also know how truly lucky I am to be a mom. Getting pregnant is something that we think should happen naturally and easily, but it doesn’t always work out that way. While we fortunately didn’t deal with infertility issues, I had close friends who struggled with getting and staying pregnant and I’ll never forget the pain I felt for them during those tough moments. That being said, I feel completely blessed to have been given such a wonderful gift and I hate complaining about something so truly wonderful.
But, motherhood is tough.
It’s a whole new world that no one tells you about. It’s not simply caring for another human, it’s learning to change everything you knew about your own world for someone else. Oh, and let’s throw crazy hormones, sleep deprivation and breastfeeding into the mix just for fun. You learn to prioritize your days and entire life differently. You learn to be more patient with others and yourself and you stop judging other mothers’ decisions because you suddenly realize just how damn hard it really is.
In the midst of all this new stuff, there’s another not so good feeling that I got pretty often—especially in those first three months. I got lonely. After Thanksgiving, our family left and the following Monday, Rob went back to work. Owen was a three weeks old, and I was still very much recovering from child birth, trying to figure out breastfeeding, exhausted and suddenly left alone with a baby.
It was fine for awhile. I was still getting the hang of everything and falling into a routine of sorts, but a few weeks later, I had the first of many breakdowns. Just after Rob left for work, Owen barfed up his whole morning feed. I still hadn’t eaten breakfast, my nipples hurt and my head was pounding. I tried to hold it together for a moment, then gave in and just started crying.
I just wanted someone else to be there with me. Even if they weren’t helping! I missed talking to grown-ups and having someone reassure me that I wasn’t doing a totally crappy job of this mom thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my little guy! His smile and laugh melts my heart, but I’m only human. And, Owen can’t carry on a conversation. Baby-talk and reading The Pout Pout Fish is wonderful, but I have a serious need for real (adult) human connection and conversation to feel like myself.
I missed getting dressed in the morning and leaving the house and most of all, I just missed my old life. I felt guilty thinking that at first, because I love Owen so much, but in those early days, I did miss my old life! Waking up when I wanted! Doing anything when I wanted!
But, a few months have passed and I don’t feel guilty anymore, at least not nearly as often. I think it’s normal to miss your old life, even if this new one is wonderful. Being a mother is such a gift, but it’s not all that I am. I have passions and a life outside of being a mom and if my cup isn’t filled in those areas, I’m not the mama I want to be to Owen or the wife I want to be to Rob.
Thankfully, at four months, things have changed a lot. So, if you’re still in those dark first few months, there’s hope and you’ll be out of it before you know it! Yes, I still crave being around other people, but now that he’s more alert and aware, we can actually do that! Leaving the house isn’t as hard and spending just an hour with a friend can turn my entire day around.
Now, a little bit of advice after I’ve gone through it!
My advice to you as a friend of someone with a new baby, make extra effort to check on them. Not just in those first few weeks, but the first few months. Honestly, I think it’s more important to check in with them during the second and third month of their baby’s life. That’s the time when everyone else goes back to work, stops delivering meals and visiting you. And, that’s when things can get really lonely. I’m not blaming anyone! I get it, people have to get on with their lives. But when you’re the mom, it feels like everyone else is just moving on, but you’re still experiencing all of the same things.
My advice for mamas! If you’re a new mom or soon-to-be mom—ask for help. Staying at home alone all day gets lonely and there’s no shame in feeling that way. Ask friends to come visit, schedule lunches, go for walks, grab a drink—whatever it is that will make you feel less lonely and more fulfilled. It might feel tough to ask, but you’ll thank yourself a million times over when you get home from your outing and you can just smile, knowing you did something good for your own mental health. I’ve learned that the better we take care of ourselves, the better we can serve those around us—aka, our little babes, husbands and other kiddos (if you have more than one!).
Not all days are tough, but plenty are and I think it’s perfectly fine to admit that you feel lonely and to do something about it! As my mom always said, “if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will,” and it’s so true! So, if you’re feeling lonely today, call a friend, schedule a coffee or lunch date! If no one’s available, email me and we can chat too!
Did you feel lonely at all after having a baby? What helped you feel more connected?