I’ve had feelings that keep on re-surfacing – that won’t go away. I know what they are but I’ve been ashamed to admit it; loneliness. I’ve tried to confide in my fiancé, my friends, my family, even a couple of colleagues but none of them understand, they’re not at the same stage of their lives that I am so I really can’t expect them to understand.
But that leads to more frustration, more loneliness, more doubting myself – Why do I feel this way? What is wrong with me? Am I alone in this? Should I suck it up and try and push these feelings to the back of my mind?
I certainly don’t feel lonely all of the time, I have a beautiful son, a wonderful fiancé, a loving family and in-laws and caring and supportive friends – how can I be lonely right? I work for four days each week and between the drop offs and pick ups, routines and busy working day I really don’t have much time to be lonely. It’s those bits in between, sometimes my day off when I don’t have the energy to go to playgroups, when I haven’t settled into any groups enough and I still feel a little out of my comfort zone, the fact that most of my close friends don’t have children.
The power of blogging
I stumbled upon an incredible blog post whilst I was searching Google for answers to my questions, hoping someone could shed some light on this for me and provide me with some solutions. I was surprised how few blog posts and discussions there are around this topic, it still feels like it’s quite taboo, not talked about. I read a blog post by an American writer called Kristen LaValley, titled Are you lonely Mama? and something just clicked. She put exactly into words how I’d been feeling, I felt such relief and recognition that other Mum’s felt this way – she gave pretty solid reasoning behind it too. Apparently her post went viral and it’s easy to see why.
She starts by talking about what triggered her feelings of jealousy, bitterness, anger and then loneliness, scrolling through Facebook and seeing other Mum’s on a playdate with their children with playful banter under the caption. Social media, in particular Facebook has affected me in a much more negative way over the past nine months than it ever has and I realised this is why – when I scroll through my newsfeeds it is very much a case of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ – of course everyone only shares the best parts of their lives and I’ve learned the key is to take it with a pinch of salt – don’t believe everything you read. Limit your social media time and focus on doing things that make you feel great, by all means share the fun stuff but keep a perspective on it all.
I can pinpoint when I started to feel this way and it was when my baby started to become a toddler. He is a curious, energetic, boisterous ball of energy who rarely sits still and was on the move just before his first birthday, my previously leisurely lunch dates or relaxing baby yoga classes turned into me not being able to hold a conversation, chasing him around the coffee shop, picking up the biscuits he had crushed and thrown or spat all over the floor and trying to strap him into his pram whilst he is throwing a full blown tantrum in protest. After a few stressful meet-ups where after being arranged for weeks and taking all morning to successfully get us out of the house clean, fed and looking presentable; I’d cut the playdates short after our battles and me being a sweaty, red-faced, anxious mess in serious need of a large glass of wine. I decided it just wasn’t worth the chaos and how frazzled I was left feeling afterwards and although these other Mums/ friends were always so lovely and understanding – I left feeling like a failure, like I couldn’t hack motherhood, couldn’t control my child couldn’t keep my cool and juggle motherhood and a social life.
So… what is the solution?.
So how do we tackle these feelings? I started writing this blog post a week ago and wow what a difference a week can make! When I started writing this I felt horribly low, my head was a whirlwind of thoughts, me and Thomas both had a full blown cough and cold (I’d worked from home that day which was lonely and unproductive!) and I supposed you could say I was feeling pretty sorry for myself – everything felt so much worse than it was.
I felt so fed up I decided to take action and texted a Mummy friend who I’ve met a few times but she’s always been great to chat to by text and we’re very like-minded and she was so understanding and really open – she empathised and said she completely understood and sometimes felt that way herself and that we should organise more playdates. I also decided to try a new playgroup and meet another Mummy friend I’d met at baby sensory and her little boy who is just three weeks older than Thomas – we’d always got on really well but I suppose as we both work we didn’t make as much effort as we could. She also told me that she felt like she wanted to start making more effort to meet more Mums and attending playgroups and playdates more often.
The following week another lovely Mum contacted us from that group asking to meet up whilst she was off for half term – it was almost like once I started making the effort people sensed it! It’s really not easy making new friends in your thirties and I often had the attitude ‘I have enough great friends I don’t have enough time to see them, I don’t need any more’. That was naieve and a little small-minded of me as since writing the blog post and feeling pretty low and lonely – I decided it was time to take action, I really do need other Mum friends. They may not become best friends or friends for life (although it would be lovely if some did!) but they will provide much needed friendship, advice, companionship, empathy and a playmate for my toddler – and those are valuable things I need in my life right now.
Don’t be afraid to admit what you want and need due to pride, lack of time, fear of putting yourself out of your comfort zone – I am proof you’ll only suffer as a result. There will probably be more hard and lonely days ahead, but with a little more support and a few more ‘wow me too’ quotes from other Mums, I’m sure we’ll be back to better days in no time.
I’ll finish by sharing the parts of Kristen’s blog post that really hit home with me, if you’re feeling the same at all – I really hope it brings you as much comfort and perspective as it did to me.
“Mama, I know that you’re lonely too. It’s ok. Just remember that this is a season and it is the most sacred season you will ever have the honor of experiencing. You will never be more loved and wanted and needed as you are right now…in this moment.
This is the season of boo-boos and spit up and dirt. It’s the season for 10 minute showers, half shaved legs, and one eyed mascara. You will get lonely. And jealous. And maybe sometimes you’ll begrudge your life and wish you had someone else’s. You’ll get frustrated and angry and you’ll want to escape. This will be the most unglamorous and unappreciated time of your life, and sometimes it just totally sucks. That’s ok.
But have peace in knowing that this will be the season you look back on longingly. One day, we’ll gladly give up all the friends in the world to have our babies small again. To be able to fit them on our laps and read them stories and go on adventures. The point is, don’t let loneliness steal this season from you. It’s precious and it’s beautiful and it will be over way too soon.”