I’m going on my seventh year of motherhood and I’ve always been open with what a joy and struggle it can be. I’ve been a stay at home mom for the entire duration and now have two children, almost seven and three.
In that time, I feel like I’ve been alone in my home approximately four times. And I’ve probably been to store alone even less. I’m truly never alone and for me, that was one of the most unexpected parts of motherhood. If I’m not with one of my two kids or both of them, my husband is around.
All three of them seem to need my undying attention at one point or another throughout the day. It’s exhausting.
Of course, I knew that having a baby and being a mom would be a never-ending job but I hadn’t yet lived the reality. I was used to retreating to my room alone for hours at a time. I would nap, read, think, clean, anything. I could go anywhere I wanted whenever I wanted to. I miss that.
With a baby who turned into a toddler and then having another baby three years after that, it left me constantly surrounded and touched constantly. Almost every day I felt touched out and lonely despite being around another person all day, every day.
The reality is that being responsible for the well-being and physical and emotional health of two human beings took part of my identity. I’m not the same person I was before I became a mother. Never being alone had made me feel lonelier than I could ever imagine.
I assumed that was how it was supposed to be. That I was giving all of myself to these two beings who never asked to be here. But I finally realized I was drowning in motherhood. It was literally suffocating me and I had to change something.
I was snappy and rude. Cranky and tired. Overwhelmed and controlling. I was pushing off intimacy because after being clawed and cried out all day, the last thing I wanted was to be touched even more.
I needed an escape. Something for myself. Over these last few years, I started putting myself first…well not first but definitely in the top ten. I joined a book club. I started running. I have a quarterly moms’ night outs and I began taking medication for anxiety.
My book club consists of nine women. I first met most of them when I was in college and had a work study job. They were employees at my university and some are decades older with children who are my age. Their wisdom in life and motherhood has helped me in so many ways. They empathize and know how hard the early years are.
They give me credit for mothering two young kids and give me the praise and recognition they wanted when they too were young mothers themselves. The women in my group who chose to never have children know and recognize it wasn’t for them.
What struck me most about this group of women is how mature and supportive these women are of each other. I came from a world of Regina George’s and competition. I learned way too late women weren’t like that. Some just choose to be.
For me, the best part of book club was reading. I love books, the written word and escaping to a different world. Or learning a certain topic when a non-fiction book is chosen. It’s a good excuse to take a moment to sit. Reading never makes me feel lonely.
Running has not only given me an escape but the realization that I’m better than I think. I used to hate running with a passion. I was the slightly overweight girl in junior high who walked the warm up run in p.e. I took aerobics in high school to avoid running. I never thought I would pick it up at 29.
Running alone, I don’t feel lonely. I’m alone with my thoughts. I started running because my youngest was near two and I still had 15 lbs to lose. I figured moving my body more than I ever have would be a good way to get in shape and it was.
I’m by no mean in at my I’m “22-year-old, I have no baby or stress” pre-baby weight but I’m healthier. I walk upstairs with ease and my kids see me being active.
I’ve been so extremely lucky to make good friends. I know many moms struggle with friendships and it’s very hard to make friends as an adult. These friendships formed because I forced myself into playgroups and kept going. They took years to evolve.
The anxiety meds are the biggest change I made. I grew up anxious always nauseous or with a stomach ache. My complaints were brushed off as me worrying too much (well, duh) but it was expected for me to stop. I couldn’t. When I became a mother my anxiety turned unto fears of something happening to my babies. It manifested in anger when days went haywire and I was anything but easy-going.
These meds saved my relationship and have made me a better mom. With them, I feel less lonely. My mind-set is better and so are my internal thoughts. Mental health is vitally important for parents and even more important to be healthy for our kids.
You can’t take care of a family if you aren’t caring for yourself. Take care of yourself, mama. There is no reason to lonely in motherhood. Reach out, make the change.
Originally published on Moms.
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