Motherhood is lonely. As this toddler climbs into my lap, let me clarify. Motherhood is not physically lonely, it’s emotionally lonely. Even though I spend every waking second of the day with this beautiful babe, why do I feel so lonely?
There is this whole streaming conversation flowing through my head every minute of every day, separate from the words I’m actually saying to my child or my husband.
…I really need to get out of bed, change the baby’s diaper, fix breakfast, plan some fun activity for the day, Ok but when is nap time, Well if she sleeps too long I will miss my spin class, so what am I going to do for a workout then? Maybe just not workout? Shit this place is a mess. Ok I’ll clean today. Hold on, your husband is talking to you. listen….so anyways…you should probably pay your bills. Oh and don’t forget to call the insurance company. Ok, I’ll do that when I have a free hour. which is never…..
That’s just the literal. Then the emotions come in…
…Whoa I look rough today. Maybe I should put some make up on. Why do I have to explain to my husband 998,098,384,098,208 times what time her first nap is? Our daughter is 17 months old now. You should know. Don't be hard on him. I feel so gross. If I don’t exercise I’ll feel even more worse about myself. Make it a priority woman! Why can’t I get anything done anymore? I’m such a failure at this.
I’ve always taken pride in being a mother. Before actually becoming a mama, I knew I wanted to be 100% hands on. I didn’t want to hire a nanny or plan for a preschool before she absolutely had to go. I wanted to do it all on my own, with the help of my husband of course.
Now, just writing this down sounds preposterous. Mostly I believed all this to be true because:
A. All that costs money.
B. I thought I would fail at my role as a mother if I needed to rely on others to raise my child.
D. My husband is so unbelievably helpful.
C. I don’t live in the same town as family, so I wasn’t just going to leave my child with a stranger. Um, Hello Stranger Danger.
Oh how wrong I was.
Don’t get me wrong, you can absolutely do it all on your own… but you will be lonely. You will lose connection with your husband. You won’t get to go out with friends. You will have a child that no matter what you do, WILL cry when you leave them with a sitter. You will be very lonely.
On the upside you’ll save $50.
I wanted so much control in the beginning. I thought if I wasn’t the one putting her down at nap time, there’s just no possible way she will sleep (not the case at all). When I was exclusively breastfeeding, I found it way too inconvenient to pump so I never left her for more than 3 hours for the first 10 months of her life. Also, my husband travels 50% of the time for work, so 50% of the time, I'm a single mom.
The saddest part of all, I had so many opportunities to not be lonely. I seriously have the most wonderful friends that if I asked, I’m confident they would try as best they could to help out. My mother visits once a month, yet my husband and I have only been out like 4 times since the spring of ’14. My mother-in-law nearly pushes me out the door when we visit because she sees how desperately I need a break, yet I continue to make up excuses not to leave.
Today I’m asking myself why? Why have I risked so much for the sake of doing it all on my own?
Because if it wasn’t me nursing her every feeding…If I chose to go out with friends and I wasn’t the last one to kiss her goodnight…
If it wasn’t me, I was failing. I wasn’t being the mother I set out to be.
Now that I’m on the other side of it, I’m finally realizing…
Taking a break from my baby can actually make me a better mom. I used to ask my clients this all the time, "how can you expect to be a great mom if you are not taking care of yourself?" When training, rest is equally important as the actual workout. One without the other actually causes more damage, leaving you with very little results. Meaning, you can do squats every day, all day for the rest of your life, but if you do not rest, you will never see the full benefit of the hard work you put in.
This applies to motherhood.
Even the greatest writers, scientists, and architects take a break from their work. No matter what you are doing in life, you can’t give your best 100% of the time all the time. Only Ron Burgundy can do that.
So if today you are feeling lonely, hire a sitter. Call up your best friend. Cry. Plan a movie night with your hubs even if its not for another 3 weeks. Do whatever you need to do to recharge. If your friend said she would watch your kid for you, take them up on that offer (either they’ll love it or they’ll learn their lesson not to offer free services lightly).
Do it. Take a break. Because you’re lying to yourself if you think you don’t need it.