No one ever told me motherhood was so lonely.
Like, really, really lonely. But the crazy part is that I’m never alone. I always have a kid or a dog or a husband that is around, filling up the space in the house. I am always surrounded by people, yet at times I feel pretty darn alone. I catch myself wondering if this feeling is forever. Am I ever going to feel part of the greater picture? Am I ever going to feel like I’m not in this ship alone? And then the narration in my head leads to, Am I ever going to get back to my old self? Am I ever going to feel good in my body again? Am I ever going to feel full and complete and all the things again? My mind is a slippery slope. And, you know what? The answer I am looking for is, I sure hope so, I really do.
It has been 5 years since I had my oldest and 2 and a half since I had my youngest. I’ve seen (felt) glimpses of the old me, seen (felt) glimpses of being part of a community, seen (felt) glimpses that I was surrounded by a support system, but they are fleeting. The crazy part? I AM surrounded by a support system, I AM part of a community, I AM not quite feeling like myself yet, that one needs some work. I’m starting to think that this is the new way of being and I’m not totally thrilled about it but I’m getting there.
I remember sitting at my kitchen table, dried breast milk coating my shirt, belly band still tightly binding my jello-ie stomach (that still looked like it was carrying a 5 month old fetus btw), hadn’t brushed my teeth and definitely hadn’t brushed my hair, and my daughter sleeping in her rocker for the first nap of the day. I felt miserable. I felt exhausted and overwhelmed and lonely-so lonely. I had this little thing that I had birthed, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with her besides watch her sleep and sing her songs. I needed some support. My mom lives a million miles away, I don’t have a sister, and (at the time) I had zero friends in the new town I was living in. I was freaking lonely. I was frantically searching for a mom’s group, or a mommy get together, or a life line- I was good with any of them. I found a local group that was meeting for a stroller workout in about 10 minutes. I was so eager that I emailed the instructor and told her I was on my way. I packed up Ella, ran out the door and barely remembered to bring my workout shoes. I made it with one minute to spare and I was thrilled to see a group of moms with strollers waiting for me. I must have looked like a hot mess and they must have known the hot messness that I was because I was greeted with open arms and looks of understanding. I WAS a hot mess-a postnatal hot-freaking-mess. Remember those days? You guys, I showed up in that same breast milk stained shirt, a stretched out bralette holding my 10 pound double D’s, hadn’t brushed my teeth, still wearing my belly band, yadi yadi, you get the picture. Looking back now, I looked hysterical and I felt the same way. I soldiered through it and stayed the whole hour. I even ran up a hill and felt mighty proud of myself for it. I had an extra forty pounds on me so I was super impressed with myself. Needless to say, It felt good to be with others and am still part of that group.
I now teach stroller barre for them on Wednesdays. I get to be surrounded by women-mom’s all the time and I have made real connections in this group. We get together for mom’s night out and play dates, we watch each other’s kids, and bring baskets of support when life throws us a curve ball. I am so thankful. What we have is so special. And not wanting to take anything away from the support I am surrounded by, I still feel lonely at times and I would bet all of the money in the world that those momma’s would say the same for themselves. It is much less now and it doesn’t quite feel so heavy. Because it’s not the same loneliness that we are familiar with. This loneliness is only something that can be understood when you are overwhelmed with the tantrums, the piling laundry, the to-do list that is forever long. It’s the loneliness that comes with the private matters that come up behind closed doors, the MomXieties, the real life stuff that has to be dealt with along with running a household and caring for your kids. We are all facing our own battles ON TOP of putting out the fires in everyone else’s lives we take care of. This loneliness though, this loneliness doesn’t get taken care of that well because often times we don’t have the time or resources to help ourselves first. And, you know what, I’m not cool with that. I am working on ways to balance my needs with those of my family and of myself. I am working on being grateful for the support that I have and the love I am surrounded by.
There are times when I feel trapped behind the walls of my home. I am there, sometimes all day, and I am doing things (laundry, work, dishes, playing) but I am segregated from the rest of the world. Some of the best times of my motherhood life was when I had neighbors who were moms as well and we would sit on each other’s couches and drink coffee and share stories and not judge one another for the mess in our kitchen. It was so comforting.
I read something today that really stuck with me. Before washing machines, the woman of the village would go to the river and wash clothes all together. It was a time of gathering and sharing stories while getting the days’ work done. When washing machines became a thing, the depression rates among the woman increased incredibly and no one knew why. As it turns out, the women of the village and the women of your village need that communal time with other woman, other mom’s. It’s good for us! It helps us to feel a part of the whole picture. It helps us to feel not so lonely.
Maybe this version of loneliness is just part of motherhood. Maybe this is how it will always be. Maybe this is why they say that motherhood is the hardest job. If that’s the case, then know this- When you are feeling the loneliness of motherhood, I am too. When you are feeling overwhelmed, I am too. When you feel like you have to hide in the bathroom to catch your breath, I am too (no, seriously, I hide in my bathroom a lot LOL). And it’s not just me that’s feeling it with you, it is a whole tribe of momma’s that know what you are going through even if it doesn’t feel that way. I hope knowing that makes you feel like you are not alone.
Let’s just do this whole motherhood thing together, okay? Come hang out with me and my stroller barre mommas… I’ll even meet you down at the river so that we can scrub some clothes together :).
In good health,