One of my teachers had a rather sad explanation for the rash of teen pregnancies that cropped up at our high school. The theory: some young girls have babies because they don’t want to be alone.
Not so, I argued. Teenage girls wanted homecoming dances, cute clothes, cuter boyfriends and carefree fun. Not diapers and sleepless nights and spit up and more diapers. Back then I knew that a child was no cure for loneliness. As I get older, and I would like to think wiser, I can see that there are times when motherhood itself can be a lonesome proposition.
Being a mother is fantastic, amazing, soul stirring, and so many other wonderful things. But there are also moments when a mom can feel a little isolated or “too inside of herself.”
Heather Bryant felt the sting of loneliness when she left her career to raise her children full time, on a farm no less. Check out this guest post from Heather, aka Farm Mom, for tips on keeping loneliness in check.
Life as a stay-at-home mom can be pretty isolating. Most days we only get to converse with little people whose vocabulary consists primarily of “I want,” “Give me,” and the intranscribable babble that comes along with the demands of childhood. We aren’t out problem-solving with our co-workers or chitchatting at the salon.
As a SAHM, I am at home all day changing diapers, wrangling a toddler and trying to keep the house in modest order while all my friends (including my husband) are off at work. In addition to this (quite typical) challenge of staying at home, I live literally on the top of a mountain.
My nearest neighbor is over a mile away and, if I drive like a prohibition-era ridgerunner, I can make it into “town” in about 45 minutes. This past month we were without power for TWO WEEKS. I felt like a cavewoman. Even when the electric is working properly, I often don’t have access to the internet. Needless to say, I struggle with loneliness and depression.
Most days I think I end up scaring the grocery clerk and UPS man with the amount of small talk I try to coax out of our minutes-long engagements. Just to be recognized by another human being, acknowledged as a sentient creature and engaged in (somewhat) intellectual conversation is such a precious gift!
I haven’t always been this desperate for attention. Once upon a time I was a pretty successful businesswoman. I worked diligently and capably in an office (aka “the cube farm”) and spent most of my day collaborating with other businessmen.
Becoming a stay-at-home mom really threw me under the proverbial bus. It took conscious daily effort to reach out to others for interaction and support, to meet new people and join activities for my kids. In fact, it took a ton of research, trial-and-error and an almost dating-like persistence to meet the right women and organizations to build an adequate support system and social network.
Community has always been the answer to isolation. Although it took me a long time to discover the right community for me, I assure you that the right community is out there for every individual. All you have to do is find it!
Most places have at least a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. MOPS is a group of women whose sole mission is to provide mothers of young children with friendship and relief. They will hold your baby for you, babysit your toddler, play with your preschooler – all while you enjoy coffee and breakfast in peace with friends.
There are also a great number of online communities through FaceBook and social networks like BabyCenter. But I caution you to not get too caught up in online networking. Although virtual communication is great in a pinch it isn’t the same as interacting with REAL people – people who by the very nature of being present force you to be authentic, who can make you truly LOL, appreciate the desperation of your struggles and comfort you with a hug.
Hang out with other women (IRL – In Real Life) at least once a week. Even if it is only a playdate where the children run around screaming. Even if you can’t hear a word of what the other women are saying. Get dressed, comb your hair and enjoy the fellowship. (Even if that means the kids are still in their pjs.)
Surviving and Thriving
I still struggle with the isolation and loneliness of being a stay-at-home mom, but I finally feel like I have the tools to be successful here and, like you, I am making it – one day at a time.
READERS: What are your tips for dealing with loneliness? Ever consider living on a farm? Have any of your teachers told you something that still haunts you?
About the Author
Heather Bryant is the proud and loving wife of RockstarDad and the grateful mama of RocketGirl and BulldozerBaby. Although she had a career at the intersection of finance and technology, Heather now stays home on a farm to raise her children full time.
Heather recently published her first book, “From Cube to Farm: Surviving and Thriving as a Stay-at-Home Mom.” The book biographies her journey from the cubicle to the farm and is designed to help other women when they decide to pursue the career of motherhood as a full-time job. Her website and blog are also dedicated to supporting and encouraging stay-at-home moms.