Any parent knows that there are moments when the whole motherhood thing feels isolating. Maternal loneliness is a real issue, from the challenging first few weeks with a newborn, through the first year of milestones and regressions, through toddlerhood and child-rearing. New mothers and experienced mothers alike can experience lonely feelings from time to time.
Even if it feels like your only companions are the little ones you’re raising, it’s important for mothers to feel seen as people, not just caretakers.
Feeling lonely is common.
Maybe you’re beating yourself up about yelling at your children too much. Maybe you’re sacrificing your own needs for the sake of running a household. Maybe you crave interactions with other mothers or adults and resent your current lifestyle. Maybe you’re desperately needing to make a best friend, someone you can talk to and vent to anytime, any day. Maybe you’re a new stay-at-home parent and miss the social network of your old work life.
The struggle to make “mom friends” is real.
With the identity shift into motherhood comes a change in typical adult interaction. Many women feel that when they became mothers, their old friendships didn’t feel the same. Making new friends with other moms can be challenging in itself with the limited adult interaction that many mothers get. It is challenging to make friends as an adult, and even more challenging to meet friends that have kids and share similar lifestyles, activities, interests, and beliefs.
On top of the struggle to make friends, many moms feel like they let go of their old self when they became a parent, embracing a new life as a mom. This shift in how moms view themselves can also make it challenging to meet people and form friendships.
New parents can feel isolated when friendships change or disappear.
There is irony in the isolation.
The ironic part of feeling lonely as a mother is that moms are rarely actually alone. From feeding a newborn baby around the clock, to spending sleep-deprived nights comforting a wakeful infant, to managing doctors appointments and school schedules, to navigating marriages and relationships when a new baby enters the picture, moms rarely get a moment to themselves.
When a new mom feels the weight of these constant interactions, it can almost make the loneliness worse. The more that mothers are around their children, keeping track of their schedules and needs, the more it can lead to feeling lonely.
Pregnant women can feel lonely too.
Motherhood begins long before the baby enters the world. When women become pregnant, they can also have feelings of loneliness as their body experiences changes and shifts that only they understand. Although friends, family, and one’s partner can be helpful, pregnancy takes a toll on a woman as her body undergoes major changes. Becoming a mother is a monumental shift, and a woman might sense that her whole world is changing, isolating her from her friends, partner, and even family.
First-time mothers’ experiences can be unique.
Becoming a mother is a wonderful, powerful experience, but it comes with difficult feelings. First-time mothers experience everything for the first time, and it can be overwhelming, creating feelings of loneliness.
Raising children often means less time around other adults and to some extent, social isolation. Taking care of a newborn baby means long periods of sleep-deprived days, lots of time feeding and changing the baby, and spending time at home or at doctor appointments. A new mother might feel lonely as much of her daily life revolves around her baby’s schedule and needs.
Being on maternity leave can also cause parents to be lonely. They might miss being around other adults and having someone to talk to throughout the workday. Loneliness is common when women are out on leave, as it is a big shift for the family.
Even experienced parents can end up feeling isolated.
Even experienced parents have felt lonely from time to time. It can be difficult not to have other adults to talk to and interact with, feel like there’s an endless to-do list of baby-related tasks, difficult to put one’s physical health and fitness as a priority, and hard to connect with other new moms or experienced moms in a genuine way.
Raising children also puts a stress on the way moms interact with their partner or spouse. Raising kids can take a toll on relationships, as priorities shift and moms and their partners feel neglected and lonely.
Having a good support system makes all the difference.
New moms can benefit from having a strong support system as they raise children. As the saying goes, it takes a village! Having many sources of support can help a mother’s mental health thrive during long periods of isolation.
Here are some forms of support for mothers:
Her mom or mother-in-law.
Her primary doctor, her OBGYN, or her psychiatrist.
The local community centers.
A support group for new mothers.
An online support group, like The KeaCommunity on Facebook.
Having a strong support system is necessary for surviving new parenthood. Being around a compassionate, friendly community of people can help a mother’s overall feelings of well-being and inclusivity. Loneliness is a normal part of life, but a mom can experience peace and happiness with the help of a trusted friend, a helpful parent or grandparent, a community support group, or a partner she enjoys talking to and spending time with.
Motherhood is a big shift for women.
From raging hormones, to changing body features, to extreme sleep deprivation, becoming a mom is a huge change for a woman. Society should be more comfortable talking about the extreme life changes that happen when people become parents. Parenthood is a joyful season of life, but it comes with its own set of unique challenges that often bring about feelings of loneliness from time to time.
There are many ways that moms feel lonely.
There are probably hundreds of reasons why mothers feel alone, and each of these reasons are valid. It is normal to feel isolated from time to time. Postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and other mood disorders can make parenthood difficult as well. New moms and experienced mothers alike feel the weight of these lonely feelings.
No matter what a mother’s reason is for feeling lonely, her feelings are valid, and she deserves to be heard.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.