Last night, I was in bed, ready for sleep, doing my nightly terrible habit of scrolling through my Facebook feed, when it hit me. It grasped my heart and stole my peace. It was just something as simple as a photo of a few moms hanging out and their playful comment banter under the photo. But it hit me hard. Jealousy. Bitterness. ANGER. And then when those feelings had faded away, all that was left was loneliness.
I get lonely.
Motherhood is lonely.
It just is.
Even if you're lucky enough to have one or two steady friends, how often do you really get to spend time with them? Life gets busy, babies need to nap, kids get sick, have rehearsals, practices, husbands get home late from work, things change, plans get canceled, you forget to reschedule, and whose court is that ball in this time? It's just really, really hard to have friends in this stage of life.
Sometimes, I go to Target and walk around just to have interaction with people outside of my house. When I'm out with the boys and I look up from the chaos long enough to see another mama doing the same things I'm doing, I just want to run over to her and say, "Are you lonely too? Do you want the same things I want? Do you struggle with the same things I do? Will you judge me for failing? For being scared? For wanting to run away from my kids? For forgetting to put shoes on the oldest and a clean diaper on the youngest? Can we be friends? Am I freaking you out? I don't care. HOLD ME."
Sometimes I just want to have a long conversation with someone other than my husband. Someone with female anatomy. Someone in the same life stage as me. Someone who gets me. But I can't dwell on those thoughts. Loneliness breeds jealousy, and bitterness, and anger, and regret, and then guilt, and sleeplessness, grumpiness, impatience, grudges, depression, and on... and on... and on...
Mama, I know that you're lonely too. It's OK. Just remember that this is a season and it is the most sacred season you will ever have the honor of experiencing. This is the time when your babies need you and want you and enjoy having you around. This is the time when they will cling to your legs as you try to leave the house without them and run into your arms when you come home as if you'd been gone a lifetime. You will never be more loved and wanted and needed than you are right now... in this moment.
This is the season of boo-boos and spit-up and dirt. It's the season of 10-minute showers, half-shaved legs and one-eyed mascara. You will get lonely. And jealous. And maybe sometimes you'll feel down about your life and wish you had someone else's. You'll get frustrated and angry and you'll want to escape. This will be the most unglamorous and unappreciated time of your life, and sometimes it just totally sucks. That's OK. But have peace in knowing that this will be the season you look back on longingly. One day, we'll feel we'd gladly give up all the friends in the world to have our babies small again. To be able to fit them on our laps and read them stories and go on adventures and eat pancakes at every meal.
When loneliness creeps up in your heart and you start to feel sorry for yourself and wish for something other than what you have right now, fill that emptiness where your social life used to be with baby belly laughs and movie nights and pillow fights and silly songs. Don't let temporary loneliness steal this season of your life.
I'm not saying that friendship isn't important. Obviously, it is, or we wouldn't feel its lack so strongly. We were never meant to live in isolation. Women, especially, need friendship. But sometimes, our friendships take the backseat in life -- and we can let that destroy us and affect our motherhood, or we can embrace it and give ourselves, and our friends, grace.
If you have friends, do whatever you can to spend time with them as often as life allows. But maybe you're in the same place I am right now. Maybe you're in a new city, and you don't know anybody, and then you meet people but they already have their groups of friends and circles and you just kind of feel like the oddball out. It's easy to get discouraged and feel defeated. It's easy to cling to the computer and your online friends. Don't. Find a moms group, a meet-up, a park where moms often hang out. Step out of your comfort zone, ask for phone numbers, and be intentional about forming friendships. Sometimes it will fail. But maybe it won't! Your new best friend could be sitting across from you at the playground, feeling just as lonely as you. Don't convince yourself that you're the only one in the world who doesn't have friends. (I really need to practice what I preach...)
The point is, don't let loneliness steal this season from you. It's precious and it's beautiful and it will be over way too soon.