Motherhood - a lonely journey
I’ve been a mum for almost 6 years now. It’s taken me this long to realise, and more importantly, accept that being a mum can get quite lonely. Take away the play dates, birthday parties, camping trips, after-school activities; I felt alone...a lot.
I was lonely when my son was born almost 6 years ago. I left work to look after him (I didn’t like where I was working anyway so the leaving part worked out alright). The hard part was that all my work friends were still at work so I didn’t get to see them, as was my husband. There were days when I didn't talk to any adults.... I'd talk to my baby all day but let's be honest, you don't really get much out of those one-sided conversations. My parents have passed away. My sister, who I'm quite close to lives in Asia, as do the friends I grew up with so I didn’t get to talk to any of them either. I felt housebound because my son had reflux and would projectile vomit after every single feed. Eventually, I started going to the local library and baby groups but making friends, as you may have found, can be really tricky. Back then I wasn’t confident enough to talk to people and felt like an outsider, looking in at mums with their happy and content babies, sipping warm tea and eating biscuits whilst chatting away with their clicks (or squads as Ty-Ty calls them).
I was lonely when my daughter was born 2 years later and again I was stuck at home because I was exhausted from looking after 2 kids under 3. Going out was hard work and I didn’t want to spend any money anyway.
Then my kids started growing up and we faced different challenges; food intolerances, kids talking back… misbehaving… not listening. The house looked more and more of a tip even though I cleaned every day. I felt like no-one appreciated me as the kids shouted with joy when their daddy came through the door. Why don't I this kind of reaction from the kids when they see me? So, I jumped back into work. This time I will enjoy my job, I thought. This time I will make more friends. I will be happy.
Well, I didn’t like my job. I started to question why I went back to work as I was hoovering the kitchen at 2 in the morning. I was dropping my kids off at nursery to then be picked up by their nanny and only saw them in the morning and before bedtime. My children were misbehaving even more. They weren’t eating their dinners because they were given a snack at 5.30 before the husband got home. AND, I no longer enjoyed a trip to Ikea over the weekends (shock horror!). I wasn’t happy. In the end, after 8 months, I quit my job and went back to staying at home to look after the kids. This time I will enjoy being at home I said to myself. This time I will appreciate my kids even when they don’t appreciate me… it’ll be fun.
Can you see a common theme emerging? I kept expecting to feel a certain way and set exceptions on how things would be and how I would feel. I felt like everything I was doing was wrong, not good enough, or just not what I wanted. I have to say it wasn’t all doom and gloom. I did start to make some lovely, amazing friends. The kids and I did have fun (in between the ‘I-don't-know-why-I-bofer’ moments) and above all, I always had the love and support of my husband. What I didn’t have was self acceptance.
It’s strange because with children around, life is LOUD - all the time. There's always stuff happening around me so it’s hard to understand why I felt lonely. And yet here I was, I'd tried the stay-at-home mum gig and the working-mum gig and nothing was working. I was alone when I was travelling to work and when I was rushing out the door to go home and see my family. I was alone when I was at home and doing chores, waiting to pick the kids up. I've made mum friends but I can’t always be with them (not that I would want to anyway I’ve decided!) Sometimes when life gets busy, my husband and I kind of do things together without actually feeling like we're there together (does that make sense?)
So what do you do? How do you make it work? I haven't got the answer but here's what I'm going with; Accept that loneliness isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t make you less of a person, less cool or popular. Who you perceive to be the cool mums? They are most probably lonely at times too. Accept this is where you are at this moment of your life and carry on. Find things that you enjoy and make it work; Go for walks, take up a new hobby, watch a movie, meditate, do yoga, read, learn, get a job, stay at home. Appreciate that you are alive. And healthy. And have a choice. You, and only you should control how you feel and how you see the world. Lastly, always remind yourself that in the end, everything will be okay.