Let start this post with; I love my kids. I love them more than filter coffee and red wine. But I am sometimes amazed at how lonely motherhood can be. I am not a social butterfly at all- I have a few friends who I absolutely LOVE to hang out with. But I must admit I am not really good at making new friends. I love braais and wine drinking philosophy sessions with my girlfriends on the stoep. That is pretty much how far it goes. So, one would naturally assume that I don’t mind the alone time. But being alone and feeling alone are two very different things.
Like most of you know by now I have 2 kids under five. So, I end up spending most of my time with the girls. I suppose there are those moms who would say, “I’m with my kids all the time so I could never be lonely!” Those moms are either crazy or lying. Because as exciting and amazing and fulfilling as motherhood can be, it’s also one of the most isolating choices a woman can make.
To be honest the feeling starts creeping in during pregnancy. You are just too tired to go out after 6pm and you skip the work drinks because what is the point.
And then the baby arrives- cards and gifts and a gazillion posts on your Facebook. All then followed by (I am pretty sure) the hardest six weeks of your life. Even if you wanted to be social you just to tired…
And that is what happened after Zoe was born. Friends were having a party and there was very little discussion as to whether I’d be going or not. My husband, of course, was ready to get out of the house and away from prembabyville for the day. So, there I sat with a tiny baby on my boob, knowing that all of my closest friends were just a few blocks away, but feeling thousands of miles apart.
Fast-forward several months. Things between your baby and you are pretty well sorted out. Things are in place and every little bit of independence gained by this tiny human translates to the same for you. But you still can’t dart away for an afternoon yoga class, you can’t say YES to girls’ night until you find someone to babysit and you can’t even really talk to your husband about it.
Which leads me to what may be at the root of this profound sense of isolation; the sad fact that you’re not even feeling connected to your partner anymore. In the beginning, maternal preoccupation is necessary for your baby’s survival. You find yourself feeling cut-off from your friends, disconnected from the person you thought would always “get” you and ultimately unsure if you even know who YOU are anymore. It’s a real shit storm of loneliness.
And as I said at the beginning- I really really love the girls. But they are not capable of being my best friends. They are each other’s besties and biggest enemies at times too. Playdates tend to be helpful too- but I spend so much time chasing after them that it is an insane activity to attempt anyways. Date nights is said to help you as well but out of all the moms I know (and there is A LOT of you) only 3 can stick to it.
Of course, things will change – in the blink of an eye, as they say. Until they do, it’s a daily struggle between the many true joys of motherhood (there are a million) and the sense that I’m the only person in the world who knows how I feel.