A couple of months ago I was noticing a lot of talk online and on TV about loneliness and motherhood. Channel Mum launched their #YANA (You Are Not Alone) campaign, Holly and Phil had a chat about it on This Morning and The Duchess of Cambridge has recently spoke about how isolating motherhood can be. I decided not to share my thoughts on this as, to be honest, I didn’t want to upset myself by digging up all those feelings I try to ignore and plastering them here on the internet for the world to see. However, the point of all of these campaigns was to help bring mums together, to show them that feeling lonely is something that happens to so many of us once children arrive and there are lots of us out there looking for a mummy friend to share this crazy ride with. I am one of those people. So, in the spirit of honesty and to hopefully bring comfort to other mums feeling like me, I am going to share my story of loneliness in motherhood, fingers crossed I can make it through typing this post without bursting in to tears.
Loneliness in motherhood – my experience
I have always been someone who is happy with just a handful of friends. I never cared about being popular or not at school and as I grew up I was totally fine with having a few really amazing friends rather than a large group of not that amazing friends. When I moved to university this character trait continued, while most students were going off forming large buzzing friendship groups, I was more than happy being pals with a few people from my course and a few others I met in halls/through work. I really don’t need lots of friends in my life to be happy.
I do need some friends though.
Life without friends is, well, it is crap. This is something I never really knew until we moved away from Swansea in 2015. When Leo was born in August 2013, I braved a bumps and babies group when he was about 6 weeks old and immediately clicked with another mum (hi if you’re reading!). Our babies were similar age, we were a similar age and we seemed to just instantly get on. She was my first mum friend and Leo’s first year was definitely a lot easier for having her to share all the hardships of motherhood with. While in Swansea I also made a few other lovely friends through various toddler groups and I really was sad when I had to leave that network of lovely mums behind.
If you are pregnant or a new mum, please get out the house and go to baby groups – I can not stress enough how valuable that time out the house was as a first time mum. It is so easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of feeds, naps and nappy changes when you’re at home with a baby all day and it doesn’t take long for your house to feel like a prison. It may seem like hard work getting you and your baby out but the reward of adult conversation and potential friendship is worth it.
So, after knowing what it was like to have other mums to talk to, meet up for soft play or swimming or just invite over for a cuppa, I suddenly found myself in a strange town, where I knew no one just when Leo was fully embracing the terrible twos. This was a time when I needed a friend the most, I did seek support from my bloggy friends but I needed someone in real life too. I jumped straight into finding new baby groups as soon as we moved here and from our second week in this town I was attending atleast 2 different groups a week with Leo.
Everything felt different now though. There was no mum I immediately clicked with, everyone seemed to be so much older than me, quite cliquey and I just couldn’t seem to connect with anyone. It was even more difficult as when I did speak to someone I was often forced to run off mid conversation as Leo was trying to bite another kids face off or something. I could never give anyone my full attention as Leo seriously did just run riot for an hour, terrorising any poor child who crossed his path.
Another note for mums to be: go to baby groups when your baby is still a baby, I mean like a newborn who can’t crawl off/run away/attack other children, this is the optimum time for making mum friends. It is hard to form a friendship with someone when you are getting to know each other through 5 minute snippets of conversation.
I understand it takes time to form friendships but over 18months on, with another baby in tow, things haven’t got any better. Yes, the town I live in isn’t strange to me anymore and I now walk into a room full of familiar faces instead of complete strangers when we go to baby groups but it doesn’t stop me feeling lonely. I can honestly say sitting in those church halls full of other mums chatting to each other while I sit and dangle a soft toy in front of Alex’s face while keeping an eagle eye on Leo is the loneliest I have ever felt in my whole life. The concept seems strange, being in a room full of other parents who I should have loads to talk about with and yet I just don’t know what to say and I feel more lonely than when I am actually physically alone.
Making mum friends is such a struggle for me, I can do all the small talk – ‘Aww, how old is he?’ , ‘What’s his name?’ , ‘Yea, this one is 6 months and my older boy is over there, he’s 3’ – but after that I don’t know what to say. And it feels like no one else does either, or they just have no interest in making more than small talk with me. Sometimes it feels like I am the only mum in the room who is not engaged in conversation with someone else, I am the only one drinking my coffee alone while trying to have a chat with my baby (note: spending your whole day talking to someone who can’t talk is another path that leads to overwhelming loneliness).
There are a few lovely mums I do occasionally chat to at these groups and they are the closest thing to friends I have but I only see them at the groups and sometimes we are to caught up in what’s going on with the kids to speak. If me and the boys are bored on a non toddler group day or in half term, there is no one I can phone and ask if they fancy a trip to the park or something. I often wonder if I had more support and friends here would I have ever felt so depressed after my second baby was born? Could things have been different if I had friends to call on and ask round for a cuppa on those really low days? I don’t know.
I wish I was braver and could just strike up a conversation with another mum but past all the standard baby chat I just don’t know what to say. I am only 25, these should be my prime years for friendship and yet I have spent a good chunk of my twenties feeling like the loneliest person in the world. I do have friends, it is just unfortunate they all live miles away and getting together takes serious planning and usually someone’s baby ends up poorly or work shifts get changed and our plans end up being cancelled. Deep down what I want most is to rewind time and be living back in a place where I am close to the friends I already know and love. The friends I don’t need to make awkward conversation with because they have seen me cry, made me laugh hysterically or, you know, maybe even seen me throw up after one to many tequilas at the Sixth Form party (I used to have quite the social life!). I do not own a time machine though so if I want friends in my life, friends who I can see regularly, then I need to go out and make them.
I just wish I knew how.
Leo starts school in September, while I am absolutely dreading the thought of being one of the only mums in the playground stood waiting by herself, I am going to try and use this opportunity to chat to other parents. With our children finishing off the day in the classroom and with no need to scream ‘Stop that right now!’ in the middle of a conversation, you never know, I might just find a like minded mum to chat to. A potential friend who also loves a bit of Game of Thrones, maybe likes baking too, loves a coffee and a cake from Costa and is also totally winging this motherhood thing and just needs someone to talk to, I don’t think I am searching for the impossible.
I am sick and tired of feeling lonely. I love my boys wholeheartedly and, yes, my husband is my best friend but I can’t help but notice the big gaping hole in my life and the only thing that is going to fill that is friendship. What gets to me too is that, without sounding big headed here, I am a really nice friend to have. I am a good listener, I care about other people A LOT and, although I am rubbish at texting back sometimes, I think of my friends often. I always have time for others, be that just for a catch up over a cuppa or a 2 hour chat on the phone about misbehaving kids or marital problems. I like a girls night out as much as the next person and I would be so happy to chat about non mummy topics too, I seriously need to talk about the Big Little Lies finale with someone, for example. I just wish I had the opportunity to be a good friend to someone new.
Have you ever felt lonely after having a baby? Do you struggle to make mum friends too? I would love to hear all about your experience, I know it can feel hard and maybe a bit embarrassing to admit to feeling lonely but I think if more us talk about it then maybe more of us will also feel braver to start talking to other mums too. Channel Mum discovered that 9 out of 10 mums feel lonely and are looking for a mum friend, that is a lot of people – I am clearly not alone in these feeling and neither are you #YANA
You can find this post linked to some of these amazing blog link ups –
Maternity Mondays | Marvellous Mondays | Posts from the Heart | #MG | Big Pink Link | Twinkly Tuesday | Dream Team | Tried and Tested | Blogger Club UK | Best and Worst | Family Fun | Cool Mum Club | A Blogging Good Time | The List Linky | PoCoLo |For the Love of Blog | KCACOLS …and of course #BlogCrush, the linky I co host every Friday.
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