Baby

Motherhood Makes Me Both Lonely and Desperate to Be Alone

by Katy Anderson

Photograph by Twenty20

Motherhood can be a dichotomy. It’s amazing, but exhausting. It can make your heart burst with love­, while driving you within inches of insanity. It is life-affirming and draining all in the same moment.

I am blessed to be a mom to three mama’s boys. They need me and it’s a wonderful thing to feel needed. I’m also an introvert who has always valued alone time. Those two things don’t always mesh well.

Motherhood didn’t come naturally for me. I found I wasn't fully prepared for the love I would experience or the loneliness I would encounter as a mother. The love was instant and all-encompassing, shaking me to my core with its protective nature. The loneliness, in contrast, crept up on me slowly over time until it seemed to suffocate my existence.

I think that it's the job of being a caretaker that lends itself to loneliness. Yes, it's beautiful and rewarding to take care of another human being but it's also repetitive and monotonous. No one prepares you for that—that you may lose yourself while devoting everything you have to another.

When I became a stay-at-home parent, I couldn’t understand how I could feel so lonely while I had my children around. Then I realized that it was because there's rarely a moment when I'm not trying to meet someone else’s needs. My kids smother me—following me into the bathroom, climbing up onto my bed at ungodly hours, and peppering me with questions and requests the moment I sit down to pay bills, work or even just take a breather for a moment.

I am never alone, but I am almost constantly depleted.

I feel lonely but the thought of putting myself out there and trying to connect with others feels daunting.

The problem with loneliness as an introvert is that you may passionately avoid the social gatherings that may help you to feel better. Logically, I realize that it would do me good to be around other adults but that requires leaving my home and my comfort zone. It also means engaging in small talk, which just feels like work to me. Mom groups, play dates ... honestly, they drain me.

This is why I generally find my rejuvenation through alone time, but as a mother that seems impossible to get in my own home.

The only solution is to leave the house. A funny thing happens when you go out on your own as a mother: it feels nice, really nice—but you almost immediately miss your family. Also, it can be hard to let go of the anxiety caused by allowing someone else to take the reins for a while even when I know these breaks are necessary for my mental health and help me to be a better mom.

I think what I’m really craving is balance, but that's the great myth in motherhood, isn’t it? I feel lonely but the thought of putting myself out there and trying to connect with others feels daunting.

Perhaps there's a way to combat the loneliness even while seeking out more alone time, I’m not giving up hope. Maybe it’s just where I'm at right now and it will be replaced by a different kind of loneliness when my kids are grown up and not needing me so much anymore.

For now, I’m going to work on connecting with people on a deeper level. I'll be honest about how I'm really doing. If you could be honest with me, fellow parent, I would appreciate it. Even if it’s just to let me know you wish you were at home in your comfy pants. Chances are, I'll be feeling the exact same way.

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