The Loneliness of Motherhood

This is a guest post from my friend and colleague Chelsea of Village Therapy. Chelsea is a mom of 2, a social worker and a maternal mental health specialist.

smyth-family_094.jpg

Motherhood can be so dang lonely! Some women might be lucky enough to get pregnant at the same time as their sister or their best friend or have a dozen friends who are all off on maternity leave at the same time. However, the reality is that most of us don’t!

That means that on Sunday night as our partners prepare to go back to work, and worse yet, Monday morning when their car pulls out of the garage for another long week, we mamas can feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.

The thoughts can spiral really quickly.

What will I do all week?

I’m stuck inside this house with the baby.

I don’t know if I should be left alone with my baby.

I’m so tired.

I’m so lonely.

It can be overwhelming, terrifying, and really, really lonely.

I always share with the mama’s I work with that we were never meant to do this motherhood gig alone. Not that many generations ago, women had other women to rely on. Their neighbours or sisters or aunts or cousins or parents or grandparents were all around. There wasn’t a sense of being left home alone with the baby because our homes had revolving doors and coming through those doors were the warm friendly faces of the women we loved.

Very few women have this same village of support these days.

Many of us have family who live far away, or who leave for half the year to escape our cold harsh winters, or who work full time and aren’t available to spend time with us during our first years of motherhood. Many of the women I work with share with me that more than help they just want company. They don’t want to feel so alone.

It is so unfortunate that we are meant to build our own network of support at a time when we feel like we are just getting by. The transition to motherhood is overwhelming on its own, never mind also realizing that you might need to revamp or do a complete overhaul on your support network.

motherhood

So, what can we do to combat this sense of isolation?

  1. Whenever possible, prepare in pregnancy! Women spend so much time during their pregnancy preparing for childbirth and much less time preparing for the postpartum period. If you are pregnant now and going on maternity leave soon, do some research! Are there classes you might like to attend? Do you have friends who are also off? Connect with them now, find out what they do and if they will be around to spend time with. Talk to your family and friends about what you might need postpartum in terms of support and company. Forecast the need for support, if you have too much you can always scale back.

  2. Take the plunge, even if it scares you, and go to local moms groups. Trust me, everyone going to these groups is going for the same reason as you; to get out of the house and to find a mom friend. They will not judge you. They will not wonder why you came. They will welcome you. If you don’t find your person right away, keep going or try another group. She is out there looking for you too.

  3. Structure your week! If you notice that you feel overwhelmed as Sunday approaches and you look ahead to another week home with your baby, do yourself a favour and plan your week out. I usually suggest to have 2-3 planned activities set up. Maybe you’re arranging a play date, taking your baby to the pool, checking out the new library or meeting a work friend for coffee. Perhaps the alternate days you are grabbing groceries or listening to your favourite podcast while you meal prep for the week. However simple it might be, creating some structure to your week might make it feel less daunting. Even better, write it down, that’s one less thing to think or worry about.

This season of life with young children can be really hard and really lonely. It is unfortunate that we have to work hard to build up a support network for ourselves that traditionally would have been there. Despite this, for most women the need for social engagement and support is a fundamental aspect of feeling well postpartum.

So, in the absence of a village, build one, mama!

You can find Chelsea on Instagram and on Facebook. She provides "on-the-go" counselling to women and their partners to address mental health concerns during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.

VILLAGE THERAPY TRANS FINAL LOGO copy.png