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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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