When I decided to become a stay-at-home mother there were some challenges that I anticipated. For example, I was as ready as I could be for the stress and exhaustion I was sure to encounter according to my fellow homemakers. What I did not anticipate, however, was the palpable sense of loneliness I would come to experience some days.
I know. It’s a little ironic that one can describe themselves as lonely when there is a tiny human attached to you 24/7 making demands and revising your plans; but, I’m sure we can all understand by now that lonely and alone are two very different things. I was certainly lonely and not just in an “I need some adult company” kind of way but in a painful “I yearn to be seen, validated, heard, and rescued from this adult solitude that is causing an internal struggle between my heart and my mind” kind of way. It’s an intense craving for adult interactions and mature discussions (and yes, a little help would be nice, too). In the beginning, the feeling was so heavy I thought I would burst into tears at the mere mention of how I was feeling. Sometimes, I did. Getting out and being active helped sometimes, but not always, as the gnawing feeling of returning to a home as the sole adult was never too far from my mind.
Not surprisingly, my cape-less superheroes who never fail to save me are often my fellow mamas. They remind me that I am not alone in the fight against the loneliness. They remind me that they hear me, that they feel me, that they SEE ME. Oh what a feeling it is to be seen! Especially when there are times when you just don’t recognize yourself and feel as if you are floating through life more than you are kicking it’s ass.
Put simply, it sucks. Still. It’s a year later and I still find myself desperately craving genuine adult interaction when the rough days seem never ending, as the second nap phase starts to dwindle down to one, and most certainly during the times when my child is ill and we are quarantined in the house for days on end fighting through it together. Some days I feel on top of the world, mindful of the gift of being able to watch my child thrive day in and day out and relishing in my “me time”. Other days it is a struggle to keep from mourning a past where seeking out such personal fulfillment wasn’t as challenging as it can be now.
I will say that I feel more prepared than I did before when the lonely days creep up on me. I unpack my emotional tool kit and start with the tried and true methods of what has gotten me over the hurdle in the past: connecting with my fellow mama soul sisters, scheduling a play date, eating some comfort food. Sometimes these things work. Other times, they don’t. It’s on those days that I decide to do what I do whenever I’m presented with any challenge as a mother. I take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other, and take it one step at a time. When I get to where I need to be mentally I make note of it as a reminder that though the loneliness may come again, it won’t last.