When Loneliness Creeps In
As mothers, we carry a heavy burden. We take on the task of raising and shaping the future. And trust me, it’s not an easy mission. Motherhood isn’t for the weak. It takes unrelenting effort, a huge heart and lots of coffee. We are constantly pouring into our children. Feeding not only their stomachs, but their souls as well. We put all of our focus into their desires, their wants and their needs. Often times, forgetting about our own. We are needed constantly. Children are terribly selfish and merciless when it comes to getting their needs met. I knew the expectations going into it. At least I thought I did.
I expected to have to put myself aside and understood the selfless act it would take to be a mother. Especially being a mom the second time around. I expected to put their happiness above my own, even if it meant giving them the last cookie I had been craving, but hadn’t had time to eat yet. I expected late nights, exhaustion, worry, and even moments of doubt. But, the one thing that caught me off guard, the one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of loneliness I would feel in motherhood.
It’s funny. As a mom, I am around tiny humans all day long. I am never alone. Not to shower, not to cook, not to even use the bathroom. I’m climbed on, pulled on, hugged on, kissed on, and touched ALL. DAY. LONG. And yet, I feel alone. How can I be surrounded by my little blessings all day and still feel sad and isolated? What’s wrong with me? I was so ashamed of these feelings. I hated myself for them. I was too embarrassed to admit them, so I shoved them way down deep and refused to acknowledge them, pretending like they didn’t exist. Never getting to the root, but instead allowing the loneliness to fester and build and eventually explode out of me like lava from Mount Vesuvius. Unstoppable.
“I’ll be home late”
That was all it took for me to fall apart. Consumed by loneliness, followed by guilt. Tears flooded from my eyes. I turned to hide my face from my kids. Wanting to hide them from the truth. Even though I am with you, I am lonely. My husband not coming home until after bedtime meant that my job too was extended. But, more than that, it meant that my time for adult human contact was extended as well. I love my children. I love signing the ABC’s and Jesus loves me. I love conversations between my seven-year-old and telling knock-knock jokes a hundred times. I do. But I also love to talk like a grown up. No, more than that, I thirst for adult conversations. Adult interaction. Adult closeness. Adult anything. When I get to the point of being overcome by loneliness, I know I’ve let it get too far. When the extra minute of conversation with the checkout clerk during grocery shopping is the highlight of my adulting, I’ve neglected myself too much.
I spend my day trying to live my life through the eyes of a child. Losing myself. The problem with that is that when I lose myself, my children lose me too. When my cup is empty, how can I pour into theirs? When my spirit is depleted how can I lift theirs? Yes, motherhood can be lonely. But, it doesn’t have to be. Stop telling yourself you can handle it alone. Stop isolating yourself in the four walls of your home. Stop keeping things hidden and not reaching out and asking for help. You are wonder woman already, don’t make it harder on yourself.
Here are a few things I find that help me take the edge off the loneliness.
Have play dates. Your kids need to run around and play, so why not reach out to a mom or two and have them bring their kids to the park? You will feel less alone and chances are, they will be feeling relieved to have a friend as well.
Get involved in a church women’s group. Not only will your soul get fed, but you will get to have adult conversations too!
Get out of the house. Loneliness is magnified by the four walls you are surrounded by, so leave and be part of the world for a little while.
Pick up the phone. Call your mom, your grandma, your best friend and be open about how you are feeling. Don’t hide it, that just gives fuel to the fire.
Find a hobby. Doesn’t have to be big, just find something you enjoy.
Ask for help. It doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Help is ok.
Know that this too shall pass. They won't be little forever.
Remember, you’re not alone. These feelings are normal. Motherhood is isolating with children. There are schedules to stick too, early bedtimes, and naps during the day. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for a social life. But, you need to take care of yourself dear mama. Squeeze it in where you can. Your children need you. Love them, pour into them, meet their needs. But, don’t forget to nourish yourself, too.