The Bittersweet Loneliness of Being a New Mumby Claire Chircop
As a new mum on maternity leave, I was constantly surrounded by my daughter. I was never alone & lived in a house completely built up of love, so why did I feel so lonely?
The feeling of loneliness was completely unexpected, after all it’s me that chose to open my heart and my home to more people. It was quite ironic really that this lonely part of my life was spent with the person I loved most. It didn’t make sense at all and I felt a huge amount of guilt about it.
I imagined my maternity leave would be a walk in the park, I thought I’d be living my best life and embracing everything there is to embrace about being a new mum. It turns out maternity leave is really bloody emotional, it’s heavy on your heart & not a day goes by where you don’t feel some ounce of guilt. I felt lonely because by deciding to have my daughter I’d taken on the selfless responsibility for another human being, which in my head meant lessening my own worth. I now had to think about how every little action would affect my daughter and I no longer had the luxury that pre-baby me had.
My body, my mind, my marriage & my career were all suddenly thrown up in the air and into chaos, and while I’m ridiculously happy to be my daughters mum, I also felt pretty conflicted. I missed my former self & that sense of loss combined with the isolation of being my daughter's caregiver 100% of the time made me feel really bloody lovely.
When polled ¾ of my audience agreed that they’d also felt loneliness in the early stages of motherhood, strangely enough with the same percentage saying they had a good support network around them, which again begs the question of why did we feel so lonely? Sadly the answer seems to lie within ourselves. 76% of mothers said they felt they brought isolation and loneliness on themselves & if I’m honest I’m not surprised because I’d put myself in that category too.
Mum guilt is real.
We can’t seem to win.
So what’s the solution?...
Discover more of myself.
I felt very deeply that I didn’t really have anything to offer anybody other than my daughter. I spent so much time with her that I’d forgotten how to be myself, and that in itself is completely heartbreaking. I need to discover who I am outside of motherhood.
Making new friends.
As an adult I think it’s pretty difficult to make friends anyway, however, when a baby’s added into the mix I think it’s worsened tenfold. I thought I’d join a baby group and instantly hit it off with all the other mums, making friends for life, even enjoying each other's second pregnancies perhaps however unfortunately that just wasn’t the case. The reality didn't quite meet the expectation.
Shaking off that feeling of just being a mum.
I hate the phrase ‘just a mum’ with a passion, I think it should be banned, however, I couldn’t help but get myself stuck down the rabbit hole of feeling that way. I know it’s stupid, I spent so long trying to become a mother and now I am one it’s not quite how I expected it to be, it’s really bittersweet.
I don’t really know the way to combat the feeling of loneliness in motherhood. I’d like to think it’s time, but who knows for certain. Maybe I’ll check back in with you in six months time and tell you how amazing my life has become and how my mindset has done a full 360. I do know one thing for certain though… Check-in on your mama friends! ⅔ of my audience believed their loved ones could have done more to help combat their loneliness which is bizarre considering a higher percentage said they’d had a good support network around them.
Can you relate to the feeling of loneliness that comes with being a new parent?