Motherhood is one of life’s greatest experiences. I wouldn’t trade being Patrick’s Mom for anything in the world. But, there’s a lot about motherhood that sometimes makes it a very lonely experience. Mom guilt and shaming contribute a lot to the feeling of loneliness but there are other factors, too.
The first two weeks of being a new mom felt so scary and actually very lonely. I have the world’s greatest husband and co-parent but I couldn’t adequately express the emotions I felt those first two weeks to him and so it was impossible for him to understand. There was fear, anxiety, exhaustion, sadness, joy, and so much love that sometimes it hurts. That’s a lot for me to comprehend, let alone other people who aren’t feeling all the same emotions i am. The way I dealt with that was working on sorting through those emotions as I adapted to my new routine as a mom and communicating as best as I could with my husband so that he could at least try to understand everything that I was going through! (There were a lot of times where he was feeling the same emotions and I had no idea- communication is key!)
As I mentioned previously, Mom-shaming and guilt often contribute to loneliness. The feeling that you are being judged for doing something that is supposed to be natural and instinctual can feel very alienating. There were times where I questioned every decision I made, when it came to Patrick, worried that others wouldn’t understand my reasoning and deem me an unfit mother. At some point you have to stop caring and just focus on what is best for you and your family. There is no absolutely perfect parent. Knowing that alone helped to boost my confidence as a mother. We are all just trying to do the best we can and that alone is enough!
Talking to other moms about their experiences is a great way to find a community of support which can certainly help with feeling isolated or lonely. However, it can also be extremely easy to start comparing yourself to those same mothers which will only make those feelings of isolation and loneliness more pronounced. Don’t compare yourself to others! Those instagram moms with the perfect feeds aren’t better than you and I’m sure most will admit there’s more “bloopers” than perfect snapshots. Social media is a way to show a selective view of those who create on the various platforms but it should not be used to set standards, especially when it comes to motherhood and portraying the “perfect Mom.”
A personal experience of loneliness for me is related to the fact that I was one of the first of my friends to enter this phase of life. I was married at 24 and delivered Patrick 2 days after my 26th birthday. My other friends, the same age, are nowhere near this phase in life. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that but suddenly I went from seeing those friends occasionally (we all live in different areas/states) to maybe once every 5-6 months. That’s hard. It’s especially hard when you have to say no to plans because you have other priorities like caring for another human being and you’re stuck watching Snapchat stories and feeling all the FOMO. I’m still figuring out this change in my life. I can’t even go out to the bars on a girl’s night out without worrying about pumping and keeping up my milk supply. Staying in touch has helped and even if I can’t text back right away, I try to at some point so i can continue a conversation.
I haven’t seen a lot about loneliness in motherhood but if you have moments of isolation and feeling lonely, just know it’s normal and it’s just a transition. Don’t be afraid to talk about it with someone- a friend, your partner, your mother! Communicating your feelings is certainly a good way to start working through those feelings.