The Loneliness of Motherhood

21 Nov

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the loneliness of motherhood. I think it took me about a year to stop feeling lonely all the time (even though I had another person constantly attached to me and a great partner!). It was one of those things that took me by surprise as a new mother. I was just so excited to be pregnant and having a baby, and I knew things would change in my life, but I just wasn’t prepared.

It’s hard to stay connected. At first, people are so excited for you and they want to stop by and hang out with the cuddly new baby. This seems to always happen when the baby is sleeping, so your well-meaning visitors keep you awake and then leave when the baby wakes up and needs to eat, needs a diaper change, needs to cry… and then the visitors stop coming. They resume with their busy lives, and you’re left with a very demanding — albeit very cute — very small human who doesn’t sleep very much.

Day in and day out, they need you to hold them, nurse them, burp them, walk them, interest them, sleep them, etc. etc. etc. until you forget to go outside, even to step out on the front porch. At least that was me for a little while. And just when you’re ready to go outside for a nice walk, it’s either raining or too hot or too cold or too whatever (and Walt hated the stroller too, of course).

Most of my friends don’t have children. The ones that do are full-time working mothers. The few moms I know at home live far enough away that going out during the brief time between feedings and naps seemed like more effort than it was worth. Or their kids were on different nap schedules than Walt, once he had a “schedule.” Add to that that Walter cried like he was being tortured when he was in the car for the first couple months — or if he was held by anyone else besides me or Dave — and I was one isolated mama.

The mommy wars don’t add any pleasantness to the choices you make either. Working moms think stay at home moms are always judging them and looking down at them, and stay at home moms think working moms do the same thing to them too. So where does that leave us? One more island of loneliness on which to perch.

Luckily, there was a light at the end of tunnel (at least for your garden variety lonely), just like there’s a full night’s sleep at the end of the newborn tunnel. Walt and I get out and about, do chores, go to play dates and story times, and we can leave the house in record time if we need to. We still have our nursing relationship, but as he gets older that changes too, into something a little more convenient for both of us (though I hate associating that word). I see my friends more often (with and without baby), and I have a full calendar of work and volunteer stuff to do.

Somehow, enough time will pass that I will want to do this all over again. And I have no idea how two kids will make that loneliness feel. Maybe it won’t be as intense. Maybe it’ll be worse. All I know is being a mama has been the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done with my life. And while every mom probably understands at least a little bit of how I’ve felt, it also seems like there are few people I’ve been able to talk to about this.

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My sweet little buddy!

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