Motherhood is the loneliest job without ever actually being alone. My best friend is 2 years old, and although she is very talkative for her age, the depth of conversation just isn’t quite there.So I have struggled a lot with loneliness, actually since I first became pregnant and in the 2 years of Amelia’s life. I was going to wait and blog about this once I had given toddler groups another go ( I’m a self-confessed toddler-group-aphobe) and found some sort of solution to my loneliness. However, having watched a heart-felt insta-story followed by Vlog by the lovely Alex Gladwin (if you haven’t seen it go to her you-tube channel), so much of what she said and felt really struck a chord with me and I think it is important to let even just one more person see that this is a common thing and they/you are not alone.
I already know the train of events that have led to me becoming a bit of a hermit. I was pregnant at university and had to focus my time on my dissertation and various other assignments, rather than NCT or parenting type groups in an area I wasn’t going to be staying anyway (I moved home after I had finished). As for friends at university there was no one I knew going through anything remotely similar to me and many of my original friends were on various placements around the world. Those that remained both at uni and home were all male bar a small handful (I have always found guys a lot easier to get along with). At the time I thought this didn’t really matter and I would still feel welcomed in the group etc. as they were Steve’s friends also, but this all changed, partly because for both myself and steve to be out at the same time we would need a babysitter but also because I had been ‘out of the bubble’ so long the dynamics had changed somewhat (plus I was exhausted and didn’t particularly want to just go out drinking in the pub with the lads anymore). The lonlier I felt, the more jealous (I guess that’s the only way I describe it) I felt towards Steve and him having a life outside our bubble, to the point I was sometimes unfairly (I was right too sometimes) grumpy with him for it.
One of the best things I did do not long after finding out I was pregnant, was act on the compelling need to tell a good friend who I had slowly lost contact with. I am so grateful for this as she has been there (despite living pretty far away) ever since. But even with her at the other end of the phone I knew I needed (and still do) to make some mummy friends, the question was where and how (I was the first one in my social group to become pregnant)- baby groups seemed the most logical place to go. I started of positive and confident, this however dwindled very quickly.
My few attempts of going to Baby and Toddler have resulted in me feeling more isolated. I’m sure for some they are brilliant and I am sure there are many lovely mummys out there who attend toddler group which are warm and welcoming but my experience unfortunately hasn’t been like that. I was invited to attend a group at the local Children’s centre when A. was very small, the ladies there were all older than me, were settled with husbands and mortgages. This didn’t bother me in the slightest although it made it hard to relate to some conversations. I tried to make an effort, went to the pub with them after the group etc. however as the weeks went by I felt I was being ignored and dismissed, their attitude came across as ‘she’s a single mum and 22 what the hell could she know?!’. For ages this totally knocked my confidence to even attempt to socialise with other mums. This is when my only other mummy friend (wife to one of the guys from our social group who reached out when she was 6 months pregnant and Amelia was a few months old) dragged me along to another group this time in the area I grew up. Amelia was the eldest there, the other mums had all been in the same NCT group and had tiny newborns, all was fine although it was clear A. was to old for the group. The ladies asked me about weaning and what I fed her (we had only just started at this point) but the suggestion of puree parsnip and pear raised a few too many eyebrows and dissatisfied looks, again knocking my confidence. Loneliness increasing and Amelia becoming increasingly mobile I attempted another group, on arrival everyone seemed to be in groups already; they had all grown up together in the area, so I started at a loss. A few words were said here and there over a couple of weeks but there was no one to particularly talk to. This is when I had a flare up of my Lupus and stopped trying (or failing) to socialise almost all together and succumbed to being a hermit, getting on with my daily life with small one.
Now feeling a lot more myself, I feel increasingly guilty that Amelia hasn’t got many friends her age. I have regained my want and physical ability to go out and socialise with others but my confidence is still pretty low. I am awful at small talk and I feel like I am really socially awkward but at the same time I am really open and honest to those who actually talk to me.This is why my Blogging and Vlogging started, I have wanted to do it from day dot. but didn’t have the confidence, Social media is sometimes the only conversation I have with a (almost live) adult that’s not my mum or other half. As much as I love my little bubble I want the feeling of loneliness to change, I am trying to regain confidence, feel good about myself and hopefully make some more mummy friends.
So here’s my plan to overcome loneliness:
- Blog and Vlog to feel I have been productive in a day,
- Sort out the house so I can feel proud of it again (I let things slip and started hating it – not good when you are in A LOT),
- Make an effort to see existing friends,
- Mix up our routine so everyday doesn’t feel the same,
- Venture to new places,
- Do things for me – time off from being mummy, eat well (ish), get showered and dressed even if not going out, refresh my wardrobe (I’ve had a big clear out already),
- Go to a different Toddler Group and talk to at least three other mums (YIKES – I’m working up to this one),
- Don’t say no or cancel on any social occasion I am invited to (even if it sound awful).