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A MOTHER: loneliness - part two

Loneliness was by far the most popular topic this week in terms of messages and comments about the blog. I'm so glad that by sharing people's stories some will feel less alone, i also feel like we have this huge community of Mothers around us online and it does really help, but it would be so great if we could all find a way to get together!

 

I'm really glad to see Mother's like Lucy be more honest and open on their own platforms about the topic which is why i really wanted to get her involved to give another perspective and show how normal this feeling is! 

Lucy is in her mid-twenties and mama to Isaac who turns one in April. You can follow Lucy over at @lucy.booknook on instagram

 

 

 

1. Would you consider yourself to have been a sociable and/or confident person before having pregnancy?

I’ve always been an introvert, but I definitely have a sociable streak and enjoy being around those who are good company. Pre-pregnancy, I loved nothing more than a night out with friends; getting dressed up and having a few drinks, as well as a very important dance (until my feet couldn’t bear it any longer!). I think my confidence levels have ebbed and flowed over the last few years. Lockdown gave me a lot of confidence because I was able to deep dive into myself and really try and unlock my likes and dislikes. I’ve always been cautious around new people and it takes me a while to show my whole personality, but I’d say I’m confident in who I am as a person.

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

I think the real feeling of loneliness kicked in for me during our first summer with Isaac (2021). I realized quickly that it wasn’t going to be the summer I had envisioned whilst I was pregnant (brunch dates, walks around the park, baby groups, a trip to the beach) because I began to hear less and less from my friends and spent a lot of the days just Isaac and I. I also didn’t know where to start with attending baby groups and felt very anxious at the prospect of walking into a room with other mums in. My mental health was also quite bad at points, which heightened the feelings of loneliness that I was experiencing and made it harder for me to reach out and find other mums in my community.

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

Honestly, no. I thought it would be a time in my life where I wouldn’t feel lonely. Because I had my baby, so why would I feel lonely? I also imagined my friends wanting to see a lot of Isaac because they had been so excited during my pregnancy so it hurt when that didn’t happen. Likewise, I expected to find baby groups that we loved, but those took a long time to find (only in the last month have we found a good one!). I never used to understand parents who said they were lonely when they had children, but sometimes you crave adult connection and communication, and some validation that you are still you (despite this massive change in your life).

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

Like I said before, I expected maternity leave to be full of brunch dates and walks in the park with friends; lots of being out of the house and enjoying my life with my new baby, showing him off! But I very quickly grew to hate being off work and I actually went back to work two days a week when Isaac was four months old. I felt like the days were really long and like I was on a constant cycle on doing the same things each day, with the same routine (cleaning bottles, washing up, feeding, changing, bathing, repeat). I adored being Isaac’s mum, but so desperately wanted some adult interaction. Going back to work actually became my saving grace and helps me cherish the days I have just Isaac and I.

 

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 it's hard to truly grasp everything that you feel as a new mother; you’re literally a barrel of different emotions and that can be hard to process internally and also to share with other people, which is definitely something that made me feel isolated. It's definitely hard to relate to those without children, because life suddenly becomes very different (and there truly is nothing to compare it with!). Often, when I talk about the loneliness or isolation I’ve felt, people blame the pandemic, which has had a part to play but definitely can’t be given all the credit. I’ve found that baby groups are really expensive and the less expensive ones aren’t always amazing (but the great one we have just found is FREE!). I think there’s definitely a lack of support in the community for new mamas, giving them spaces to meet freely and connect with one another.

 

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

 

I have a friend from University who has a daughter who is at school and I think our friendship has definitely grown since I had Isaac as we have another common ground and its comforting chatting to someone who is further along the journey than I am! But, I don’t have any other mum friends that I have met since having Isaac. I do chat to a few mums on Instagram which has been amazing because they have little ones close to Isaac’s age and its nice to see the differences and similarities between them all (as well as share in the difficulties of parenthood – like the never-ending broken sleep!). I’m still hopeful that I will find some mum friends, its all just about the right timing and meeting mums who I click with!

 

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

 

I have used Peanut, but didn’t really have any luck with it and it gave me flashbacks to online dating, which I wasn’t a fan of! We have started to attend a weekly mum and baby group now, and each week I’m getting more confident and chatting to other parents there. I get major imposter syndrome at those kind of things (like, I’m not a real mum!) but it’s all a process and Isaac loves going so that definitely motivates me to keep going and hopefully, find some community for myself also.

 

 

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

 

Loneliness is definitely something I still experience, although, I do think its less than it used to be. Like I said before, I still haven’t found a group of mum friends (or even friends who aren’t mums) but I’m starting to branch out in making new friendships and gaining confidence in myself and as a mother. My mental health is slowly improving now which definitely makes a huge difference to how I interact with other people and the confidence I have when going out. Also, as Isaac has gotten older, I find myself experiencing the loneliness less as he is becoming more and more my little buddy/sidekick – we are doing more sociable things just the two of us which is so lovely.

  

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

 

I think I’ve been quite open about it. It’s something I’ve talked to my partner and my mum about, as well as sharing on social media. I’m a huge believer that honesty brings freedom, so I’ve tried to be honest about my motherhood journey so far on social media because it might help another mum who feels the same. There is definitely a degree of embarrassment that comes with it. It feels embarrassing to admit that I have little to no friends at this point in my life, and it’s something that people often laugh off when I talk about it (at work, for example). It can be hard to talk about because there isn’t an immediate solution, or a quick fix, but I’m learning that it lessens the burden when I share what’s going on in my head.

10. What support system do you have around you? 

I have my amazing partner, who is truly my best friend and I really look forward to the days we have together as a family. I’m also very lucky to have a supportive family, which includes my parents, in-laws and all of our siblings. I definitely would be very lost without them all, and would have found this past year much, much harder.

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

I think it’s important to talk about it and reach out to those who are close to you, it helps to know that someone has an awareness of how you are feeling and they can offer you the support you might need. Although it does feel daunting, find out what is happening in your local area and try and attend some baby groups (Facebook is a great place for sourcing good ones – my local area has a page dedicated to all of the baby groups in our town). Finally, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s easy to sit and think of all the things you might have done to lose friendships, or reasons why you aren’t making any new friends

 

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