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A MOTHER: loneliness - part one

To celebrate Mother's Day this year I wanted to create a space for unfiltered conversation. A space to discuss the challenges, mental load, work-mum balance etc. Motherhood can look so glamorous and easy sometimes on social media and for others it can be a dark and/or lonely place. 

I've come to realise recently how Instagram for Little Midnight Store has become a community of mothers. I've looked or asked for support a few times with you all in regards to sleep or tantrums etc and so many people come back asking for me to share others ideas or suggestions too. I'm really glad i can offer a space for mothers to feel supported, inspired and most of all.. not alone!! 

Motherhood is different for everyone and there are so many things that come with it, making it easy, difficult, enjoyable and stressful. I love hearing about people's motherhood journey's and i really hope you enjoy this series of conversations too. This week we'll drop a new post each day covering a different topic covering things like mental health and balance etc, so please come back each day!

I've also turned on comments for these blog posts, so please if you enjoyed reading someone's story - let them know by commenting on each post. Hopefully this is something we can build on more this year if it's of interest to you all. 

When I posted on Instagram that I was looking for mothers to be open about motherhood and discuss some taboo topics, loneliness came up alot!

Having a new baby and being surrounded by family and friends over the first few weeks can be very overwhelming for some, but what you sometimes don't realise is that as time goes on the visits become rare and that overwhelming feeling of entertaining and filling your diary up with newborn cuddles can turn to a feeling of isolation and loneliness, even more so for some when your partner heads back to work. I'm sure we can all agree that there's friends and/or family who visited your newborn but have barely made an effort since. Loneliness in mothers is real!

Coram Family and Childcare reported back in 2019 that over half of parents (56%) with children under five feel lonely: 21% feel a lack of companionship, 23% feel isolated from others and 76% feel left out at least some of the time. 

I've been speaking with one of our lovely followers Molly and her story really resonated with me for various reasons, i'm so glad to be including her in our MOTHER series and i really hope it helps others feel less alone too. We'll be dropping a new post each day this week in the lead up to Mother's Day so please do come back and feel free to leave any comments too!

Molly is a 29 year old small business illustrator @Dandilyonillustrates and mother of two. Arlo is aged 2 and Joni is 20 weeks! Having recently relocated to Nottingham due to needing more space for her family, Molly has experienced loneliness and a feeling of isolation since becoming a Mother. 

 

Joni & Arlo 

 

1. Do you consider yourself to be a sociable and/or confident person?

Before pregnancy I would say I was definitely a social person. I absolutely adore my friends and also making new friends. Before pregnancy one of my fave things was going out for a boogie! I have shy moments but generally I would have classed myself as a confident person before having my children.

 

2. When do you think you realised you were lonely?

I’ve felt loneliness since having my second baby. We had to move house when finding out we were pregnant for a second time as our house was tiny! We couldn’t afford what we needed where we were so had to move to a new area and therefore from the community we were so familiar with and also best friends.

I have felt isolated in our new home but it’s not just that. Since having my daughter I’ve missed the comfort of having family close by so very much as we don’t live close to any family members.

3. Did you ever think you would experience loneliness during motherhood?

I think you can never be totally prepared for the emotions and challenges that come with motherhood, but I would certainly say of the emotions I was prepared for, loneliness wasn’t one of them.

 

4. What did you think maternity leave would be like vs what it actually looked like?

My maternity leave with my son was just so unprecedented as he was born a month before lockdown so the entirety of my maternity leave with him was in the height of the pandemic. After working so hard for many years I perceived maternity leave to feel monumentally free and and of course that was entirely wrong! 

 

5. Why do you think new mothers can feel so isolated with young children? What do you think could be done to help this?

I think the feelings of isolation for young mums stem from several emotions but for me I think despite being around my two precious children everyday; I crave adult conversation because my children can’t talk to me and of course are solely reliant on me too!

So that is a real contrast to before having children when you’d go to work and be surrounded by other adults everyday. It sounds absolutely crazy but I think that actually paternity for partners could go on for a bit longer; perhaps just an extra day a week for a few more months so that you have more company in the days from your other half but then also more support to give you energy to go to classes etc on other days to meet mums!

 

6. Do you have any mum friends / did you find your mum tribe?

I have very few mum friends but have managed to find a few all through either previous interaction or kind of by chance in the area I live in. I am the first in my close circle of friends to have children. I think “finding” mum friends is so difficult.

 

7. How did you find them? Did you use apps like Peanut? Did you approach mums at classes etc?

I haven’t used any apps to find a community of mums. I actually approached some new mums in my local park and asked if I could join them and luckily they said yes and over a year on I am very close with one of those women so I feel very lucky. Approaching that group was very nerve wracking for me but that actually stemmed from loneliness and a desperate need to know other mothers.

 

8. Would you say you have overcome loneliness, or would you say you are still experiencing it? Why?

I'm actually still experiencing loneliness and believe I will continue to navigate these feelings until my son starts playgroup and I get a little bit of free time but also our long-term plan is to move closer to family as being far from them is so difficult.

 

9. Have you been open about loneliness with friends/family or do you feel ashamed/embarrassed to talk about it?

I am now very open about it but at first was embarrassed to admit I was lonely as it definitely isn’t a comfortable feeling to talk about.

 

10. What support system do you have around you?

I have a really strong support system, first and foremost my incredible husband who I have been with for ten years and is my best friend and rock. Then my parents and in laws are incredible but sadly live over an hour away so we don’t see them as much as we would like. I also have a group of wonderful friends who support me as much as they can, but all have full time jobs and their own commitments.

 

11. If you could offer wise words to someone else who is experiencing loneliness what would it be?

Don’t be ashamed! Communicate with those close to you about how you are feeling as they will strive to help you. Don’t allow loneliness to overwhelm you as it has the power to make you feel extremely sad and the beauty and blessing of having children is stronger than that. I believe loneliness in motherhood to be a strong but temporary emotion and something that can be worked through but will also pass.

 

You can follow Molly's Instagram here 

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