No motivation to get up off the sofa, scrolling through instagram, day time TV in the back ground, staring at my child who was playing on the floor, waiting for my husband to get back from work and crying because I felt so alone, at times so isolated, just desperate for conversation, connection, someone who cared. After having my first daughter, Kara, I was overjoyed, but I was also scared, terrified, full of fear and more alone than I had ever felt before, even though ironically I now had someone with me 24/7. I had become a totally different persona, I didn’t know what character I was supposed to play. I had spent my whole life not being a mother, and now I was one, how was I meant to deal with that? Hidden behind my child, I had lost my ‘me life’ and entered the isolation of new motherhood.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mum, I really do. I feel I was born for this role. Nurturing, caring for, building into the lives of little people, that came from me, is a dream come true. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling lonely sometimes, like so many other mums on this planet. And this loneliness doesn’t start and end with the baby life, loneliness can creep upon you at anytime during motherhood.
Yet I kept these feelings to myself, The truth is I felt I’m not supposed to feel like this, because I’m christian and I have God. I have Jesus in my heart, its what I always tell my daughter and it’s what she tells me. Plus I have everything I ever wanted, a loving family, a great husband who adores me, two adorable kids, a home, a place to belong, everything I need. I’m not supposed to feel this way, so why do I?
But the more I kept it to myself, the more lonely I became, the more I thought there was something wrong with me. I labeled myself as lonely. But just because I was lonely in this season, does not mean it defines me and does not mean I need to be captive to it forever.
The reality is we are human, and there are times when we will feel like this. Times when we want to give up, when caring after tiny human beings just seems more than we can bare, times when it gets so lonely we forget how to survive, and times when we are surrounded by so many people that we don’t even have time to be lonely, yet we still feel it. Loneliness, mental health issues, depression. These are some of the big issues that we face today, no matter what age or demographic you fit into. And that just as much goes for mums, whether its your first time, or even if you have been a mum for years. We don’t need to sit around and feel ashamed about it, or guilty, but by being honest about our struggles, we can move forward to find answers.
Today I want to look at loneliness and how as a mum in a world full of people big and small, we can feel lonely, debilitatingly lonely sometimes, whether we are christian or not, and how we deal with that. I can’t say I have totally overcome the feeling of loneliness, but these are some of the things I remind myself of and take action toward to not let loneliness debiltate me any longer.
1. Know you are not alone.
Whether you are christian or not, believe in God or not, you need to know you are not alone.
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” James 4:8
“You will show me the path of life, in your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalm 16:11
For me there is nothing better than being in God’s presence, being surrounded by his word, that speaks directly to me, to my situation, having relationship with him, connecting with God, through worship and prayer. If I didn’t maintain my relationship with God daily, it would be easy to integrate deep into myself more and more, to a negative place, where all my fears and loneliness and insecurities would surface. But spending time with God allows me to connect my soul with the one who made me, who knows me better than anyone else. His word feeds my soul. When I talk to him through prayer, I can express how I really feel, to someone who cares and wants to listen. And with him I can grow, into the mum he has made me to be, not the one I long to be. Having a relationship with God is the first thing I need to prioritize in my step to move forward, and its what leads me away from loneliness, not closer to it. We may all struggle with loneliness sometimes, but God wants to lead us out of that, into a brighter future.
2.Make deeper relationships, with out limitations.
When I say limitations I mean without the limitation of trying to prove yourself the best mum, without comparison, without trying to be the perfect mum, or the mum you long to be, not dependent on situations or circumstances or proximity.
To be honest joined a lot of mum circles and reached out to a lot of other ‘lonely looking’ mums when I first started out my mum journey. But it was easy to meet mum friends and talk about our babies and their cute cotton socks and button noses, how little Teddy and taken his first turn, or what kind of new foods I had been weaning my baby with. Sounds boring doesn’t it, and the truth is, it is. Because those were the surface conversations I kept having.
I felt like I had lots of mum friends but it wasn’t till my circle and time filled up and I still felt lonely that I realized I wasn’t making deep enough relationships. I was trying to prove that I was a great mum, trying to be the mum I thought I ought to be, talking about babies and parenting. But hardly ever talking about me, or her. We didn’t talk about us, about real life, about how actually when I go home I feel lonely, about how I want to achieve something more, about my values and dreams and aspirations as this new character I had become. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and thats true, but it also consists of how deep your relationships are with those people in the village. How far are you letting these people into your heart?
“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
I would like to say that if you are looking for a first step to branch out and make mum friends, mum circles, play groups, church, are all great places to find your community, branch out and meet people by all means, its a necessity to have mum friends. But don’t just go with the flow, be intentional about your relationships and specifically intentional about how deep you step into them. And explore how can we develop deeper relationships, by showing love and kindness to each other and by going out of our way to serve others.
3. Stop scrolling.
How much is it really helping you, looking at people’s stories and lives on instagram, does it really connect you more with them, or does it actually create in you a disconnection, as you look at the best of them and wish your life could be half as wholesome as theirs. Rather than looking at other peoples lives, it would be better to turn our phone off and take a good look at your life, make a list of things your thankful for, area’s you want to grow in, steps you want to take towards moving away from loneliness and closer into relationship with God and others. Grow and move forward at a pace that is good for you, not what Instagram peoples lives tell you, where you should be at. Our lives don’t need to be Pinterest worthy, and we don’t need to prove that we are living the best lives ever. We don’t need to prove anything at all.
And if you don’t use instagram… all praise to you! this is still something I struggle with!
4. Connect with your husband more.
As a mum it seems that our first role is to protect and nurture our kids. This is very important but actually our spouse is number one, our spouse is the one who leads our family, and us. He is the one we chose first our best friend, but sometimes after having kids, he becomes second best, there is more time to disconnect than connect, and we need to make more effort to connect without the kids around. But this effort is so important.
“Therefore what God has joined together let no one separate.” Mark 10.9
Our kids are not there to separate us from our spouses, but the story does change after having kids and so how we work together in our marriage also needs to change. You both have stepped into new roles, you don’t know how to work things out, so this is the time to work it out together, talk about your struggles, your feelings together, rather than being in competition over who has done more. And even if you have been in that role for a long time, disconnection can sometimes become the norm, don’t forget to make the time to connect more.
5. Love who God called you to be and admit your struggle.
Sometimes we need to admit we struggle with loneliness to move forward. Loneliness is an issue that I left untreated can affect our mental health and sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves, God and those around us about how we really feel. But loneliness is not who you are, and it doesn’t define you, it doesn’t have to be a part of your life.
Also, Don’t stop being you. Do the things you used to love doing. You are still you, your identity didn’t change because you became a mum. You are still who God called you to be, you are still who he created you as, just your role has changed. so take time to move into who God is calling you towards, as a mum and as you, and do the things you love to do. Don’t be afraid to delegate, don’t be afraid to call your mother in law or the baby sitter and take sometime out to go to a movie, date your husband, go for a mums night out.
These are just some area’s I try to tackle to overcome loneliness as a mum, but loneliness is all around us, how can you overcome it in your life or help someone else to?