Quote

Dear Lonely Mom: you are not alone

woman-looking-at-forest-at-dawn

I have been a lonely Mom.

But first, a little context.

As the eldest child with only one sibling five years my junior, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with babies or younger children growing up. I was too busy with my own activities and interests and friends. Sure, I babysat on occasion, but at the time, I was way more interested in making some sweet cash than practicing for any future vocation with my small charges.

Vocation? What’s that? Like, a misspelled vacation? Wait – isn’t a vocation what priests and nuns have?

I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood actually was a vocation. I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood would be my path – my call – to holiness.

I figured I would go to college, have an amazing career traveling the globe, fall in love, and get married at some point. As I learned more about my Catholic faith, I figured being married meant that I would have kids. I mean, I didn’t plan to not have children, but it was more of a default reality that I took completely for granted – you get married, you have kids. Eventually. That’s what most people do, right?

So I skipped the fabulous globe-trotting career and fell in love and got married. And then the babies started coming. And coming. And I really had no idea what I was doing. And I got overwhelmed.

And I got very, very lonely. And severely depressed.

I knew that these little lives were good, marvelous, beautiful (!!) blessings, but I didn’t quite know how to navigate the sheer upheaval in my life – changing body, hormones, responsibilities, identity, sleep – once they arrived.

I knew I needed to find people [yet] going somewhere — anywhere — felt like an impossible undertaking most days. Attending the moms’ group, the playdate, or the meet-up meant the little people and I had to be presentable, likable, and relatable. All at the same time. It seemed like an awful lot of ‘ables’ for someone who often felt like she was drowning in a sea of inability.

->Read the rest of my latest Mea Maxima Cuppa column – – over at the Catholic Sentinel.

So, how did I break through my feelings of loneliness and isolation? I wish I could tell you I had some sort of a magic formula I followed that would work for you, too. If I did, I would surely whip it up and airmail it to you if you lived far away or drive it over to your place if you lived close by.

Here are some things, though, that (eventually) helped me:

  1. Admitting I needed help. It took a while before I could swallow my stubborn pride and admit that whatever I was doing as a new Mom (or a Mom with littles) wasn’t working for me and that I really needed some help. At first, I wasn’t even sure what anyone could do to help me, but I knew something had to change. There is no shame in asking friends, family, neighbors, parishioners, and/or medical professionals for assistance when you need it. None. God isn’t calling us to go crazy because of our vocations! Once I admitted I needed help, it was easier (not easy, but easier) for me to actually seek out the help I needed.
  2. Maintaining a schedule. Moms with littles might look at the word ‘schedule’ and be tempted to roll their eyes to China. “Schedule?! Ha!!” And I know it’s true. I found that I’d roll out of bed after another sleepless night and try to leave the house only to have someone poop all over themselves or me and by the time we were all ready to get back in the car again, the activity we’d been headed to would be 75% over. Not worth it. But as much as I could, I tried to wake up, get dressed into something other than what I slept in (even if it was yoga pants and a t-shirt), brush my hair, and if I was really feeling lucky and motivated, take a shower before my husband went to work. Adding in the things that I knew I had to do – meals, laundry (oh, Lord – the laundry with spitty babies!), naps, etc. helped me to try to find some rhythm in my day.
  3. Nurturing my spiritual life. Our youngest is almost three and a half, and I’m just now starting to feel like I might have actually attended Mass on Sundays.  I remember many, many, MANY times when I felt like even attending Mass was an exercise in futility. What was the First Reading about? I couldn’t even hear Father’s homily! Did we just receive the Eucharist? So. many. distractions. But as time went on, I realized that there had to be some grace available to me just for attempting, right??! So we kept going. Every Sunday. And things have honestly gotten easier. Additionally, I think my prayer life has improved significantly since I became a Mom, simply due to necessity! I know that I need Jesus. Like woah. So, I pray. A lot. I pray for myself. I pray for my kids. I pray for my husband. I don’t always get the super high-quality before-they’re-awake-quiet-meditation-with-Jesus time in, but I am often praying throughout my day – as I scrub the bathroom floor, as I change the laundry over, as I’m chopping onions, as I’m cleaning up yet another mess – it’s there. And He’s there with me. IIn the noise. In the chaos. In the mess. And it has changed me.
  4. Quit worrying so much. I used to worry that I didn’t have my make-up on and my kids’ shoes didn’t match and I didn’t have a Pinterest-worthy snack ready before I’d head off to the moms’ group or play date. But you know what? Those worries were keeping me away from community and vital friendships. We were not meant to do this thing called ‘life’ alone, but how often do we convince ourselves that we’re not worthy of community? We are worthy! I’m not sure exactly when I stopped caring so much, but these days, I’m much more likely to be out the door with my hair in a pony tail and the kids usually wind up with some sort of shoe-like things on their feet. We might pick up donut holes from the drive-thu and are on our way. That’s where we are these days, and I’m okay with that.

So, from one lonely Mama to another – I’ve been where you are, friend. Loneliness in the trenches of motherhood can be a very deep, dark place. It can threaten to swallow you whole – I know, because I’ve been stuck looking down over the precipice myself more times than I care to recall. But I also know that you don’t have to remain in that place of isolation and anxiety; you really don’t. There are sisters and brothers who want to help you and know you and be your friend. Will you allow them to help you? Will you let Jesus in?

I would really love to hear from you – have you ever felt alone, isolated, or lonely? What do you do to re-connect with “the outside world” and to not feel alone in your vocation? Please let me know in the combox.

God bless y’all.

heather

Photo via VisualHunt.com

11 thoughts on “Dear Lonely Mom: you are not alone

  1. Hi Heather, I think I came across your IG account, and therefor your blog, through Blessed Is She! Your blog on loneliness was spot on for me today. Its been a tough year, moving to a new area with two little ones.. I knew it would be hard but I had hoped it wouldn’t be this hard. I certainly expected the lonely days but where we used to live there were a few groups and.a few quality friends that I could always be myself around and reboot. Therefor I found it easier to happily embrace the loneliness that comes with being a mum when on my own again. I defintley feel more isolated in the new area and quite often kick myself for putting myself through it. With very little family help (basically non) friendships and community are key for me to be able to live this vocation joyfully. I am praying them in and doing a lot of crying out to Jesus. (I need to remember to do it more little and often in the ordinary moments as you said). I think admitting I’m lonely and very down and need help is the hardest part!. Please spare a prayer that I can let go and let God love me though this and through others. Thank you for your honest sharing. It really has helped me today. 🙂 xxx

    1. Oh, dear Katy – God bless you! Living in a new place with littles is a special sort of hard! When we were expecting baby #5, we moved 2,500 miles from home. It was super tough. I kept praying for the Lord to send laborers into the vineyard (aka friends!!), and boy, did He deliver! I made very dear friends that are still friends although we’ve moved back to my home state. I will pray for you – please keep in touch! ❤️❤️❤️

    2. Oh, my sweet sister. God bless you. I will continue to ask the Lord to bring laborers into your vineyard to help you and be with you during this difficult and lonely season, and find long-term kindred spirits! This road to Heaven was never meant to be traveled alone, and I pray He finds just the right people to accompany you. Please say in touch. <3

  2. Oh yes! Having little ones, especially the first few, can be so incredibly isolating! And forming meaningful friendships is tough, not only because you’re exhausted and a hot mess, but also because there is so much pressure to make it look like you’re NOT exhausted and a hot mess! 😂These are really great tips!

    1. Honestly, I think my Internet community has helped me know I’m not alone. Even if I can’t get out of the house to see people IRL, I know my “computer people” are always there! Thanks for stopping by. ❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Ginny! I probably should have included something like “exercise” or “fresh air” in the tips, but I didn’t really do that the last round … I know different things work for different women – but I know that Jesus works for ALL women when they allow Him to. <3

  3. This post is spot on! I appreciate you speaking out about your struggles because I believe it’s really important to help shatter the stigma surrounding depression. Thank you!

    Before my second child was even born, I suffered with moderate depression (called “perinatal depression” since it was during pregnancy). Having a support network (family, friends, and counseling), getting exercise, and relying on Jesus, are what got me through it all. The depression got worse after my baby was born, and for a time an antidepressant also helped me get to a mental/emotional space where I could do the hard work needed (learned in counseling) to help me get back on track. So many days, my prayer was simply, “This, too, shall pass.”

    TO ALL THE MAMAS who are feeling deep despair right now: Please speak up, get help, and take comfort in knowing that Jesus has your back! Also know that there are other mamas out there (I am one of them) who don’t know you, but who regularly pray for you and and others who are battling depression. Peace to you and your family.

    1. Amen and amen and amen, Veronica! Thank you for sharing your heart, sister! God bless you.

Comments are closed.