The Loneliness of Motherhood

Motherhood.
Motherhood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luca will be four months old tomorrow. While some things have gotten better since the first two months, others are still a struggle. Yes, he may smile more, sleep more, and interact more but he’s still a tiny little person, who is utterly dependent upon me. There are still nights that require more energy than I would prefer (last night being one of them) and there are still times when he cries and I have no idea why. But mostly, the hardest part of motherhood has been the fleeting feelings of desperate loneliness.

* * *

3am is a wretched hour. God should just erase 3am, it has no purpose but to prolong the arrival of 4am. Why my son feels 3am is a great time to grunt or squeal or be fed (even if he was just fed an hour previously) is beyond me. Even if he doesn’t wake-up, I do. I inevitably wake-up thirsty, or to go to the bathroom, or because I had a bad dream. I will be honest and say that when I look over at my husband and he is sleeping peacefully, I feel bitterness well up within me. It’s lonely at 3am.

Those who know my husband know that he is incredibly supportive, probably more than most. Yet, despite his willingness to help he can never take away the burden of being a mother. There is a heavy weight that lies upon all of us as moms. It’s revealed in little ways. When my husband and I are watching our favorite show, who is the first to react when our baby cries? It’s by no fault of men, we are literally wired differently. We are wired to care about nothing more than the well-being of our offspring. But it’s exhausting.

Today, through tears, I told Caleb the feelings of loneliness I have been having, especially at night. He said that he’s saddened to hear me say that but confessed that he’s not surprised. As much as we all hate to admit it (dare I admit it?), our sweet little bundles of joy are sometimes more like big packages of frustration. Caleb admitted that parenthood has revealed his own selfishness and that there is a part of him that doesn’t always want to help. I can’t blame him, I get it. There’s a part of me that doesn’t always want to step-up to the plate either… but as the mom, I feel I have no choice. That is what makes motherhood feel so isolating. The buck stops with me.

I’m not going to end this post with reassurance that babies are wonderful and motherhood is beautiful. You all know that I speak of another side of this journey that is spoken of too little. There’s plenty of Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul-type poetry to make us feel good about motherhood. I guess this is more like an enema for the soul. It’s cleansing, freeing to write honestly about the darker side of motherhood. I am hoping that it’s freeing for you other moms to know that you are not alone or faulty for having these feelings too. How could we not? We have a new precious life in our hands. Our wants and desires are no longer priority. Our lives are not our own. So, of course. Of course we will feel resentful and lonely at times, there’s really no way around it.

**Five months have passed since I wrote this post and it has remained in the number one position since it was published. I wish I could say that the loneliness has subsided, but it remains. In fact, ironically, Caleb and I just had another conversation about it last night. While some things look different (like almost everything) ultimately, I still feel the heavy burden of being the primary caregiver. Caleb and I have had to work very hard to not let this burden evolve into contempt within our marriage (I’ll be writing more about that soon…). We can’t be mad at Luca, right? But the anger and frustration has to go somewhere… unfortunately, our spouses are often the first target we see.

The only band-aid (not cure) I’ve found for the loneliness thus far has been to be very open and honest about it. I share these feelings with my husband. That’s very difficult for both of us. It takes strength for me to share without attacking and strength for him to listen without defending. I also share these feelings with my Mama Tribe. If you don’t have one yet, go find one. They get my pain. It’s powerful to feel understood.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this again or for the first time! If you know of any new moms who might benefit from hearing some truth, send it their way!

Thanks for reading,

Jaclyn

**

If you liked this post, you may also like:

You Know You’re the Mom of a Newborn When

Our Birth Story

Reclaiming Jaclyn

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19 thoughts on “The Loneliness of Motherhood

  1. Thank you for posting this. I’m sure all mothers have had these feelings (I know I have) even if we haven’t talked about it. I love my days with my little man, but I do sometimes feel such an acute sense of loneliness, made far worse on those occasions when I know my husband just cannot fully understand me (i.e. how terrifying breastfeeding problems can be since I bear sole responsibility for nourishing our son). And yes, when my husband mentions how tired he is I feel a little resentful. 🙂

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  2. This is exactly where we are. I feel guilty that as our evenings draw to a close, I start to get apprehensive because the nights are such a struggle; and it is a battle I mostly fight alone. I too have looked over at my husband, who can fall asleep so easily, and been bitterly resentful. Motherhood so far has exposed things about me that I’m not alway proud of, but they are there nonetheless.

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  3. Rebecca, I love this post, it is so true what you say! I had this too, the first time when my son was born and then again when my twin-daughters were born. The second time my husband helped me much more during the night, as my girls did wake up every 2 hours (and they didn’t wake up together…). – I think it’s really great that you told your husband how you feel, I know how “aggressive” one can get when waking up x-times per night and seeing that the other one is still (?!) asleep. Yes, we mums are those who are more connected with our children, we sometimes feel their needs before they start expressing them. That’s tiring, unfair, but it is very natural.
    About the loneliness: I think the worst thing are these ups and downs. We love our kids enjoy the nice moments with them, they make us incredibly happy, but we see that they are so terribly demanding! Especially when we don’t know why they’re crying or why they wake up again in the night…- I know that telling you that it will get better doesn’t help you. At all… But there really will come a time, a moment, when you’ll be sleeping the whole night through, where you will realize “this period is over” and “I’m back again”. I think lack of sleep is really terrible and really underrated! (I’ll write a post about this soon)
    If I can give you an advice: try to find a way to sleep more. Maybe during the day? It changed my life. Or maybe you find a day (weekends are great for that!) where you can just stay in bed longer, or where your husband can take the night-shift. I know, he can’t beastfeed, but if your son doesn’t sleep with you, he can bring him to you so you don’t have to get up. At least one or two nights per week. – Or what about having your son sleeping next to you? I don’t know what you think about this. It helped me a lot.
    If you happen to be awake at 3 or 4 and you can’t sleep anymore: try not to get angry and take it as a very silent and calm you-time. Maybe you find the way to read something, make plans for the day etc. I once did the laundry at 3 in the morning. I felt like a gost in our house…
    I’m sorry for this long answer. You just did push the “memory” button… I wish you all the best and that you’ll soon have great nights! Big hugs! xxx

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    • Thank you so much for the wonderful suggestions and empathy! It’s nice to hear from other moms who have been there. I agree that sleep is so crucial. I’ve had to find ways to MAKE myself nap…Like drinking Chamomile tea during the day. It’s so hard to force myself but I hear the voices of mothers before me (that’s you) and my husband telling me to take care of myself. The “to-do” list can get done at another time…
      Thank you again! I love your insights =)

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  4. I love reading your incredible true and honest blog. It helps me feel better that moms are so alike even though we aren’t willing to admit it sometimes.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this. In can definitely relate! Sleep deprivation is a beast, especially at night when everyone else gets to sleep except you. With 4 kids, getting a full night’s sleep is a foreign concept. It’s when I accept it for what it is, instead of fighting it, that I’m able to handle it better…though it’s never easy. I don’t know why I ever thought it would be. Hang in there!

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  6. Oh darling girl! Yes we all feel this way sometimes, especially when we are sleep deprived these feelings tend to be worse and overall we feel great about being mommies. It is so special being loved by someone unconditionally or that you life is full of meaning because you not only living for yourself but for your husband and child. What would your husband do without you? 🙂 witching hour isn’t good for men, our constitution can handle it. They really cant!
    I tend to like the nighttime feeds cause I am totally in charge, baby eats easier at night and puts on those crucial calories that during the day he is sometimes too distracted to take in. To be honest i am probably a nightbird :). All is quiet and I can get so much done, even think, or go to the loo without having someone after me :). lots of love to you my dear. chin up.

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    • Thank you so much for your encouragement! You made me laugh when you said that “our constitution can handle it. They really can’t!” Thanks for the chuckle and words of wisdom. =)

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  7. Reblogged this on Kinda Crunchy and commented:

    CELEBRATING 200 POSTS!! Well, here it is! The NUMBER ONE post! The popularity of this post has propelled me to remain vulnerable and honest in my writings. We seem to be drawn to authenticity. This post is definitely authentic, in fact, I remember being really nervous before posting it! I’m glad I did. =) See the end of the post for an update on the loneliness.

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