The Hidden Loneliness of Motherhood - The M Word

The Hidden Loneliness of Motherhood

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Confessing you are lonely is a daunting prospect. You feel like it’s an admission that is laced with social stigma.

You feel as though the moment those loaded words are uttered, you’re automatically viewed with pity.

Well here goes.

I am lonely.

It seems like the ultimate contradiction. I’m a stay at home mum (SAHM) to an 11 month old baby boy. How could I be lonely? I spend practically all day with him. It’s surely an impossibility right?

Wrong.

I’ve always been very comfortable on my own. I’ve been a freelance writer for so many years that working by myself has become second nature. I’ve always had a small circle of friends and an amazing family and I never really needed anything else. Of course, I’ve felt lonely from time to time, I think we all can.

But oddly it wasn’t until I became a mum that I started to feel truly lonely.

Pre-child, it wouldn’t have bothered me to be at home working by myself, hitting deadlines with my head in my laptop all day and not coming up for air until it became dark. I might not have ventured out of the house that day, or talked to another human being in the flesh, yet I would feel so fulfilled that the thoughts of being lonely wouldn’t even cross my mind.

So what’s changed?

Where do I start!? My entire life has changed since I became a mum. I’m now a SAHM who tries to fit in some work from home too. I spend most of every day with my baby boy and while I love him more than I can quantify, there’s something lonely about being with him at the same time. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for months.

When babies are born, many women can find it lonely.  Simply from a practical point of view; you’re caring for a tiny, fragile newborn around the clock and just getting out of the house can be a challenge. You sometimes end up feeling isolated. Your friends may not be mothers and they might not understand this change in your life. That too can detaching. And as wonderful as newborn babies are, there isn’t much interaction from them and that too can be lonely.

But now that my son is older and much more active, I just assumed I’d feel less lonely. But I don’t.

It’s bizarre because, we laugh and play all day. I chat away to him and he jabbers back. We read books, go on outings, play with Lego, bring our dog for a walk, visit granny and grandad, go to toddler group and fill our days with activities… yet I still feel desperately lonely at times.

So why am I still lonely? Am I not fulfilled? Am I still getting to grips with this massive shift in my life? Am I just not a natural mum? Am I doing something wrong? Am I a failure?

It could be all of those things, or it could be none of them. Either way it’s made me wonder about other mums. Do they feel the same way? Did my own mum feel like this, did my grandmother or her mother? Has this always been the way? What about my best friend who looks like she’s got motherhood cracked? Is it a sort of mass secret amongst us that no-one wants to talk about?

Well I think we do need to talk about it. I think it’s okay to admit you sometimes feel alone and maybe, just maybe, by making this very personal admission I might help another new mum who’s feeling the same way.

Niamh O'Reilly
Niamh O'Reilly
A full time feature and copy writer, Niamh is a dog-mad, shoe-obsessed, movie-buff, with a curious penchant for politics. Up until her son arrived in December 2016, she’d never changed a nappy, made a bottle or even held a baby for more than 5 minutes without it unleashing what she refers to as ‘the death roar’. Completely unprepared for this momentous change in her life, she’s now trying to navigate the brand new world of motherhood with honesty, grace, love and humour. You can also catch her writing about her journey over at www.themammyblog.ie