When I brought my first daughter home from the hospital, I couldn’t have imagined the ups and downs that would quickly become part of my life. I remember so clearly the first day my husband went back to work. There I was, at home with a little person. Not alone, yet feeling very lonely.
I’m not much of a homebody so I found days at home with babies and toddlers quite challenging. In those early years you are never alone. There are always little people following you, calling for you, needing you, touching you, and demanding your attention, time and energy. But my experience was that those little people, whom I loved very much, were not the same as adult company. I needed people around me to talk to and be with me as I walked the day to day joys and struggles of motherhood.
So I filled my ‘stay at home mum’ days with new ways to be with other grown-ups – coffee dates with friends, trips to the park, child health visits, baby music sessions, story time at the library and of course, the highlight of my week, MOPS. All of these things took some effort because, at the end of the day, it will always be a challenge getting out of the house with kids. But it was so worth it. Not only for the experiences my kids got to have, but also because I formed many new and wonderful friendships. Some of those friendships have stood the test of time while others were for a season. But they were all my lifeline and helped me overcome my loneliness as a new mother.
I’ve recently moved into a new stage of being a mum. My children are all in full time school and I’m working in paid employment. As such, I can no longer attend MOPS, or any mother’s group. It’s harder to find time to catch up with friends, even for a quick cup of coffee, as our afternoons and weekends are taken up with homework, sport and activities.
In this season I’ve come to realise that there is a different kind of loneliness – that of missing connection with other women and mums. I miss MOPS mornings desperately and have felt a sense of loss over the connection and wonderful moments I had with others over the years. But that is OK, as new seasons will always bring change. And that means it is now time for me to find a new way to connect with others and overcome my loneliness. This may mean more Saturday night dinners with friends and their families which is easier now that the kids are older. It may mean grabbing a takeaway coffee and catching up with a good friend while sitting next to the netball court as our daughters train. Or it may even mean getting pizzas from Dominoes and having a quick meal together after work and before music practice, because that’s the only free time you have.
People are not created to be alone. We are created to be in relationship with others and there is immense value in the support and encouragement that women can give each other, both in motherhood and in life.
Whatever season you are in, it’s important that you find moments to connect with others. And if you are feeling lonely, don’t be afraid to tell someone. Because I think you’d be surprised that many of us feel the same way. And what I’ve learnt is that together, we can overcome loneliness and enjoy motherhood all the more.