New Mama Feels and the Loneliness We Don't Want To Admit
I allowed myself to Google it.
“the loneliness of motherhood”
Isn’t that funny? That while feeling so alone, there are so many others searching and discussing the same thing?
As a relatively new mama (my son, Legend, is 6 months old), I still get asked:
“How’s motherhood treating you?”
“Do you love being a mom?”
“Isn’t motherhood the best?”
I always respond with the same answer, “I love it… motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
And I’m not lying. I’m absolutely in love with motherhood. I can’t express the joy I feel when I glance at Legend. I love waking up every morning and being greeted with a smile from him. I love staring into his eyes and being reminded that they’re my own. I love watching him discover new things and what he can do. This little human—a direct reflection of his father and me—is growing up right before my eyes, and it’s the most beautiful thing to witness.
But in spite of the joy and purpose motherhood has added to my life, it has also brought loneliness… serious, deep-to-the-core loneliness. I have amazing friends, most of which I’ve been friends with since my teenage years. I’m convinced I have the most supportive husband in the world, and he’s truly my favorite person to be around. Most of my family is close by and willing to help whenever they can. But it’s still so hard to not feel lonely.
For the most part, the loneliness is easy to push aside and ignore… until “it” happens.
It’s being invited to spend the day at the beach with friends and immediately thinking of your son’s feeding schedule. It’s trying to have a needed conversation with another adult and hearing your son’s cries and demands for attention in the background and not being able to focus on a word the other person is saying. It’s seeing other young adults your age tagged in pictures together, hanging out on a Friday night past 10:00, while you’re rocking your crying baby to sleep. It’s not getting invited to certain outings and immediately thinking that it’s because you’re a mom.
As I type this, every part of me wants to erase the whole thing… for two reasons. First, it’s hard for me to admit that I struggle with loneliness. The extroverted side of me has a really hard time admitting that I struggle with it. I guess I always figured that it affected other people… you know, people with awkward social skills and the inability to make friends. I’ve always been outgoing and friendly. I’ve never had a hard time connecting with others. I’ve always loved going out and being around people. But in this new season of motherhood, I find myself retreating… often. I find myself assuming others my age don’t really want to be around me because I’m a mom. I find myself feeling like my friends (most of which are my age and don’t have kids yet) couldn’t possibly understand what I am going through.
The other reason it’s hard to admit it at times, is that as a Christian we’re so used to hearing the perfectly practiced responses to loneliness.
“What you’re feeling isn’t of God.”
“God will never leave you or forsake you.”
“That’s just the devil trying to get you down.”
And I repeat these very words to myself. I know that these answers are biblical and well-meaning. But when you’re home alone during the day and haven’t received a text message from a friend to get together in the longest time and you spend most of your day conversing with a six-month-old baby, these words that I know to be true don’t always make me feel better.
I admit all of this to say… I get it.
I get the sense of mama guilt that you feel when you find yourself thinking about what life was like before you had the responsibilities of motherhood. I get being the young mom who feels like no one else in her age group understands the sacrifices (or exhaustion) of motherhood. I get wanting to be invited or included and feeling as if motherhood is the nail in the coffin of your once exciting social life. I get feeling as if your identity has become completely wrapped up in being a mom and the ongoing struggle to still be yourself.
I get it.
But when you begin to feel this way, I want to encourage you to rely on what you know more than what you feel. Please know that this season of your life is one that you will never get back. Your baby—whether six-months-old or six-years-old—will only be this age for a little while. Singing Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling In Love” as you dance around your bedroom with your crying baby may not seem glamorous, but it’s a memory that you’ll cherish later in life. Staying home with your baby and feeding him mushy bananas may not seem as exciting as a night out with other adults (especially when you see the funny videos and tagged pictures on social media), but it’s a moment you’re sharing with a person who loves you and depends on you for everything. Having a conversation with a baby who can only respond with “gah” and other incoherent sounds may not seem like the best socialization, but you’re solidifying a relationship that will have a huge part of your heart for the rest of your life.
Please also know that you aren’t the only one. So many times, I’ve found myself having “woe is me” thoughts. I’ve found myself thinking I’m the only twenty-two-year-old mother in the world. I’ve found myself thinking no one else struggles with the loneliness that I feel. I’ve feared opening up about my loneliness, thinking other moms would think I wasn’t a good mom because of my feelings. But I’m not the only one who feels this way. And neither are you. So many other moms struggle with loneliness, and I’m finding that through transparency and admitting that you feel lonely, you’re able to connect with another soul who’s in need of a friend, too. I’m so thankful for the mom-friends I’ve connected with and for the people who have encouraged me during this season.
Lastly, please know that there isn’t a struggle that Jesus doesn’t know. The book of Hebrews reminds us that our Savior is able to empathize with our weaknesses. Sometimes, especially when experiencing loneliness, we have to rely on the Friend that sticks closer than a brother and is able to speak truth into our lonely hearts. He sees you. He loves you. And even when you feel like it, you’re never alone, mama.