“I’m on my own little island.” That’s what I used to say when I first became a mom. It was a secluded island far away from the rest of the world. I felt just like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Except, instead of talking to a ball, I talked to a baby, who in all reality never responded. It was a figurative island full of nighttime feedings, dirty diapers, need, and lots of spit up. I would sit and stare out the window at the rest of the world, while I sat alone in the dark. Yes, I was a new mom, wrapped up in cute accidental smiles, melting at the way her hand fit so perfectly around my finger and getting lost in the smell of the top of her head. But, stranded on an island, engulfed in motherhood, consumed by the needs of someone else, can get rather lonely.
You see, not only was I a first time mom. But, I was a young, single, unintentional mother. It was not planned. I don’t like to call her a mistake because well, spoiler alert, I don’t know what I’d do without her. She wasn’t a mistake, because I am so blessed with her. But, she was the realization that my egotistical self couldn’t just do whatever she wanted without consequences- really big consequences. She was the reminder that life has to be lived with a thought to the future. As I entered my second year of college, I found myself a new mom; trying to balance school, work, motherhood, and growing up. I always had the idea that I would be well grounded in self-discovery before becoming a mom. That I would have enough life experience to put my life on hold for a little while as a raised a child. Instead, I had to discover myself as we grew up together. I watched as my friends’ lives continued on without me. There was so much I missed out on. Girl’s trips. Parties. Late night hangouts. I was left behind. I didn’t just skip a few chapters ahead of my friends in this book of life, I was in an entirely different book. The Motherhood Book. A book they hadn’t even considered reading yet. It was isolating and bitter and oh so sad.
The loneliness wasn’t always physical, it was emotional too. I talked to people in class, lived with my parents and hung out with friends. But, I had no one to relate to. No one who understood what I was going through. Not on the level I needed. My mom had been a mom before. But, she had gotten married and traveled and lived her life before selflessly pouring her time into her children. My friends would come over and hang out, but it was nothing like it used to be. I was busy nursing an infant, or chasing a crawling baby around. There were no flowing conversations anymore. Instead, each time we talked, it was interrupted by the needs of my daughter, often times leaving me forgetting where I had left off. I would watch them leave the moment my daughter started fussing, knowing they didn’t really have to go, but instead wanted to retreat back to their quiet, fuss free life. I felt I had no one to turn to. No one to understand how hard it was being a young, single, first-time mom. Cast away to my own little island, lost somewhere between a college student and an adult mother.
Looking back now, hindsight is 20/20. I can see that I allowed the loneliness to swallow me up whole. I dwelled in it, wallowed in it, giving it free reign to take over my spirit, becoming my identity. I never took a stand against it. I never fought against it. I didn’t build a raft out of palm trees and escape my island. Instead, I sat there on the beach, alone, watching the world go by. Looking back now, I wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I hadn’t allowed the loneliness to take control and keep me from appreciating, embracing and enjoying motherhood. I missed so much of her sweet young life because I was consumed with my own isolation. I robbed her of the best part of me. If there is anything I have learned from this, dear mama, it is this…
Don’t die on your island. Survive and escape.
Embrace the loneliness of being a mother, young or not. Be molded by it and not consumed by it. Stop allowing the loneliness of your island become who you are. Build a raft out of whatever you can find and get off that island. Sail away. You will make it. Eventually, you will look back in triumph, witnessing how far you’ve come and smile. You will still be overwhelmed with a mountain of need, but you will rock them and kiss the top of their heads, realizing your life didn’t end with them. Instead, the day your child was born, is the day you were born as a mother. Loneliness is a season. Shift your focus to the horizon and see the possibilities of being rescued. They are all around you.