Motherhood

The Loneliness of New Motherhood

Date: June 26, 2019 at 11:24 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 24

My mom and brother came to visit last week. It was so great having them both here, for many reasons, but one thing stands out.

On Wednesday, we drove to Dresher, PA, to surprise my grandmother (Honey!) for her 95th birthday. It was a really nice day, and when we got back to our apartment, we bathed and fed Annie, walked Ellie, and then ate dinner after putting Annie to bed.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY! (Honey is the one on the far right. In case there was confusion.)

Then, around 8:30 PM, Ryan, Brian, and I went downstairs to check out our building’s golf simulator. I’ve never golfed before (I love mini golf, but I’m so bad that no one ever wants to play with me — how sad!), but my brother loves golfing and brought some clubs, so we grabbed some wine and hit the virtual links. I was awful, and for every 40 swings I hit the ball once. I was really bad. So bad. But it was so fun, and we laughed a lot, and it’s rare my brother and I get to hang out without the mini humans around (LOVE THEM, THOUGH), so this felt like a treat.

We came back upstairs (my mom stayed in the apartment with Annie and Ellie, don’t you worry), and I felt awesome. Even though I had just swung a club so hard and so wrong that I broke my shoulder, and even though I only hit the ball six times in total and the computer forced me to “move on to the next hole” every time, I was so happy.

I sat down on the couch with my mom and wondered why I was so excited over such a tiny, 30-minute-max adventure.

And then I realized: I had left the confines of my immediate apartment after 7 PM. I’d had a stress-free outing that didn’t revolve around working or baby things or mom things. I had adult conversations about adult things. I wasn’t checking the baby monitor every few seconds. I didn’t have the faint sound of white noise from the nursery buzzing in my ears. I went “out,” my baby was taken care of (for free! by someone I trust!), and I felt relaxed.

Perhaps not the ultimate revelation, but it felt pretty monumental to me, and that feeling has stuck with me.

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Look at us, all relaxed!

Now, before we get all TMI levels of honesty here, let me preface this post by saying that things are really good right now. Annie is at a great, super fun age. The warmer weather means we’ve been able to go on more hiking and swimming adventures with Ellie, which means she’s been happy. Work is good. My health kinda sucks (Crohn’s flare; more on that another time, blah), but I’m rolling with it. I’m cooking dinner most nights. I love our nanny (she’s with us part-time; four days a week for the first half of the day). And I’m very grateful for all the good in my life.

At eight months postpartum, I have found my confidence as a mom. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve accepted that I never will. I’ll always find something new to question, to second-guess, to Google. We’re in a good routine and a good groove, and even though I know it’ll probably change soon, I’m enjoying where we’re at.

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WE ARE HAVING FUN!

But if I’m being honest…

I’m lonely.

I miss my friends.

I feel trapped inside after 7 PM.

Annie goes to bed at 7, and it’s nice having those evening hours to do stuff I need or want to do, like cook dinner, clean up from the day, record and edit podcasts, or do other work. But with Annie asleep and Brian often not home until late (or at all if he’s traveling), it means that after 7 PM, I’m in — and usually alone — for the night. It means missing out on the summer concerts that happen right outside our door every Thursday, not taking advantage of the sunsets along the waterfront, and missing birthday parties, happy hours, and other after-hours activities that make summer especially delightful. I’m working on finding some local babysitters who can hang here when I’m really craving an outing, but right now I’m finding it hard to justify paying someone so I can go for a walk or sit outside and read a book.

And honestly…

I’m really jealous of people who have family close by. I know we’re lucky to even have family, and to at least be in the same general region. But my parents are a five-hour-or-more drive, and Brian’s mom is a three-ish hour drive. I really envy people who are able to have weekly dinners with their kids’ grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I wish that, when I felt lonely, my mom could come over and watch Big Little Lies with me, or watch Annie while Brian and I went out to dinner. (I always miss my mom, in particular, but I am especially craving her company since having Annie.)

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My crew! (Not many adults! Or people who speak. Or anyone who doesn’t need some daily poop-related assistance.)

I’m working really hard and I’m really genuinely happy, but something is missing, and I think that something is adult human interaction. It’s why instead of going for a solo run most days, I go to Orangetheory. It’s a little less convenient and sucks more time out of my day, but I get to see people, and that fuels me.

It’s also why I Insta Story a lot. Maybe too much!

I don’t want to lose my identity. It’s been easy to let motherhood consume me, but I’m craving conversations about things other than nap schedules and eating solids and “is this normal?” I need and value those conversations, but I hope I remember how to talk about other things without it always leading back to mom things or baby things.

I miss my husband. We haven’t taken a true vacation in nearly four years — since our honeymoon. (We did go to Paris for our first anniversary, but I was so sick that, unfortunately, the trip was a bit of a bust.) I’d love to find a way to get away with him for a little while.

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This was my first time getting a little drunk since Valentine’s Day 2018!

And so…

I made a list of Things I Want To Do. These aren’t to-do list things. They aren’t work-related or Annie-related. They’re things I want (or need) to do for myself. There are treat-myself things on there, like “get a pedicure,” “get a facial” (I’ve had one in my life and kind of want to do it again), and “relax and read a book.” (I’ve been trying to read more, but it’s a page or two here and there when I get a chance throughout the day. And usually the books are work-related, not fun fiction reads. I want to just sit under a blanket, wearing cozy socks and a sweatshirt and no bra, and just read something fun and intriguing. I’ll probably fall asleep, but still. Imagine!) Then there are things on the list that are important and overdue: annual (overdue) skin check at the dermatologist, embarrassingly overdue dental cleaning, get marriage license because I’m still not sure whether Brian and I are actually married… And all these things should be high priority, but I can’t justify using childcare hours for anything other than doing my job right now, and they aren’t things I want to do with Annie in tow. I’m not complaining — just assessing. The weekends are when Brian is usually around, so I want to spend that time with him and our whole family, not off running boring errands and getting my moles checked. (Any advice here? Lay it on me! I know I probably just need to make a sacrifice somewhere if I want some “me time,” but any other secrets to success?)

Finally, if I’m being honest…

Yes, things are good. Yes, I’ve found my confidence. But I’m still dealing with some postpartum anxiety. It’s so much better now, but it’s a work in progress. I’ve learned what my triggers are — pumping was a huge one, and eliminating that around the five-month mark was life-changing for me — which is helpful, and I’m trying to get better at communicating my often high-strung feelings with the people closest to me so they’re aware.

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Annie gets a bath every night. I SHOULD TAKE A BATH EVERY NIGHT, TOO!

I met with a potential babysitter yesterday, who is available to do the occasional afternoons, evenings, date nights, or Mondays (I currently have no childcare on Mondays). She was really lovely, and Annie adored her. The next step, of course, is actually committing and getting some days on the calendar — whether it’s to get work done or sit outside and read a book — and taking a bit of action. And not feeling guilty for doing that.

And figuring out, once and for all, how to get that damn marriage license.

Posted in Baby-

24 Responses to "The Loneliness of New Motherhood"

I LOVE your insta stories, please don’t stop!! Annie is so cute and I love her huge smile and the Ellie pics too . DO NOT feel guilty about taking “me time” it will make you and even better mama…you can’t keep pouring out without getting a refill 🙂

Let’s be honest: I WILL NEVER STOP INSTA STORYING. Haha. And thank you for the kind words.

Thanks for the honesty. I have a nearly 2 year old and am hitting my hardest points right now. I work full time at a stressful job and every second outside of work revolves around helping my son (who has some medical issues), cleaning the house, and prepping for work the next day. On top of that I have a very stressed and unsupportive husband and don’t know where my marriage is going.

That sounds so challenging, and I have no doubt you’re doing an amazing job. Sending so much love your way.

I hesitate giving advice because I’m just as new a mom (three weeks behind you), but I was PUSHED by a friend into joining a new moms group and it was life-changing. Anything like that around you? It might not involve childcare hours because you could bring Annie — and it sounds like you need some (non-virtual!) friends. Even better when they’re in the same confusing, hard, wonderful stage of life! 🙂

Aaaah basically twinsies! And yes, there are several new-mom groups, but they all meet on weekdays around noon — which is when I have childcare and I need / want / prefer to get work done during those hours. I haven’t been able to find ANY that meet in the late afternoon or early evening. (I have found, in general, that most of the new-mom groups cater to moms who stay at home and don’t work, or are on maternity leave. And that makes total sense! I just haven’t been able to find one that meets at a time when I’m not working, like in the late afternoon.) I have met a few moms in my area, and we go on walks with the dogs + babies during that time, which is nice! I guess all that to say, I HAVE friends (though not enough who are super local), I just need to make time to see them!

Love this. I feel every part of this. On top of everything else – I’m trying to find new moms to connect with – and I’ve been failing (I’ve never had trouble making friends before). Thanks for your honesty here!!

I’m about to eliminate my own pumping trigger at 2 months so congrats on making it 5!! I think everyone will be happier once I’m no longer tied to that thing. P.S. Annie is the best!

New-mom loneliness is so real, and it’s why I was actually excited when my maternity leave ended. Work-from-home loneliness is also real, as my husband is newly experiencing (tho kid is in daycare). He’s found it beneficial to meet a friend for lunch at least once a week; is that (or breakfast) an option for you when you have the nanny? Less work time, sure, but if it keeps you happy and connected, maybe worth it?

Also, if I hadn’t changed my name, I never would have realized our marriage certificate never came in the mail and we would have just celebrated four years of thinking we were married. Our partially filled out license got lost in the mail on its way to El Salvador (long story) and we had to go back to my hometown and get married a second time after our first wedding. So! This stuff happens!

Thanks so much for sharing! As a new mom myself, I can relate to the loneliness in a different but v real way. It has gotten better for me since I’ve gone back to work in an office setting and I’m around people all day. But I remember feeling like maternity leave feeling the loneliest during the day due to lack of interaction. Hang in there! I love you sharing which in turn helps others share!

For the evenings when you’re feeling lonely and Brian isn’t home, could you invite a girlfriend or two over to the house for a glass of wine? It’s not the same as going to a happy hour, but it might give you some adult conversation and you wouldn’t have to worry about trying to find childcare for Annie. Just a thought I had while I was reading. If it’s not a practical idea for you, please feel free to ignore it!

Heather says: June 26, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Do you have a Y near you? I know it’s not the same as Orange Theory, but they have a ton of classes and they offer babysitting while you’re there. It might be another way for you to get out and socialize, and/or get some additional things done while Annie plays with other kids. Also, there are things like parent/child swim lessons. I’m a newish mom (my nugget turns 1 in July), too. It can be lonely when you’re stuck home after the baby goes to bed and hubs isn’t around, but I find if I get out a lot during the day, it’s not so bad to hang at home with the monitor and a good book 🙂

This 100%. I wrote a post on my own blog about it recently, about how I felt like a prisoner in my own house after 630 at night. My husband works nights so I’m on my own for dinner and the whole bedtime routine and then I’m stuck here. I’m stuck in this rut of watching too much TV and eating too much after my son is in bed and then going to bed hating myself for eating 4 bowls of ice cream. It’s especially hard in the summer when the days are long and so many fun things happen at night. It’s also hard when your friends don’t have kids or have older kids. I feel so alone so often

I feel for you. I love my kid and miss him basically whenever he’s asleep or in day care, but he doesn’t fulfill every one of my needs.

My slightly-less-new-mom advice:
– Invite people over! It’s not as cool as happy hour but it’s kind of relaxing to chill at home and make your friends come to you. Childless friends can visit you on a weekend or evening; with a white noise machine, babies will sleep through anything. Or find a mom friend to join you for a playdate during the dreaded witching hours between 3 and 6 pm.

– Don’t do anything when Annie is asleep (or with a nanny) that you can do when she’s awake (and with you). I read this somewhere when my son was maybe six months old and it transformed my days. To a baby, watching you do dishes and sing is fun! (A year from now, sadly, it is an opportunity for her to destroy your apartment, herself, and all your plates.)

I just laughed so hard at the last part of your comment! But to share something similar – I have one day off per week and I used to do all the household chores during my 8 month old’s naps until I realized that she LOVES watching me vacuum. Now watching me do chores entertains her and I get to do something for me during nap time.

Ali – thanks for sharing, as always. I can very much relate.

Just last night I was telling my husband that I am craving a night out with my girlfriends, where I laugh hard, and come home feeling so “filled up” with happiness. It’s been YEARS.

Also, I can relate because last week I was doing a late night Target run and realized I haven’t driven after dark in quite awhile!

Thanks for this post.

you’ve gotten some good responses here, but I just wanted to add that it will pass, eventually. (Maybe like a kidney stone, but it will pass.) I was in the same spot when I first had my kids–I had three kids in four years, and we moved multiple times, so that every time I started making friends we left. But it gets better. My kids are 13, 11 and 9 now, and life is still mostly kid-centered, but they don’t require round-the-clock care or eyes on them at all times, and they are even old enough to leave for short periods of time alone, and we all get to see our friends….it gets better. Just hang in there. You’re not alone, and you can do it.

Getting a babysitter and going out at night, maybe even just once a month will make you feel so much more human. You will feel guilty whether you are out or sitting on your couch at home (because, you know, there is always something you could be doing), so try grabbing drinks with friends, going to a spa by yourself or a dinner date with Brian. Also, meet me at Pier 13 in Hoboken at 4/4:30 for a little happy hour with great views!!

Hang in there! It is a tough transition and the 1st year is hard. It does keep getting easier. The kid down to 1 long nap is life changing. I made a lot of new mom friends from a group the 1st year, but now at 2.5 years old we hardly see each other. At some point it gets easier to leave them with sitters, they play independently, they potty train, talk in sentences, eat fine at restaurants and life goes more back to normal and you see your old friends more.

I go to a gym that has childcare and that is amazing. Also, inviting friends over to your house for awhile is the best solution with early bedtimes. Good friends will make the trip. Maybe also try to find something fun to do in the evening. Bake more, try new recipes or international cuisines, or block off an hour to read fun books, be intentional with the time and schedule something you look forward to! If you miss people, have some friends read the same book and Facetime to discuss it. Or Facetime and cook the same dish with someone else.

Yes, I totally relate to this too. My son is almost 7 months, so right there with you. I work part time now, so I feel like I don’t fully fit into the stay-at-home or full-time working mom groups and haven’t really met many mom friends or any that live close by to easily connect with in person. I feel guilty asking for childcare help on the days I don’t work, but when am I supposed to schedule appointments like you mentioned? Taking baby to the dentist with me would be a nightmare, so I keep putting off scheduling stuff too. Last haircut was before he was born! It’s tough but nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks for sharing honestly.

Hey! As the mom of a 9 and 6 year old; the baby years are the most isolating. Once school starts it gets so much better. In the meantime what about a playgroup or something like that? It would be fun for Annie and you’d meet other moms. Bonus is you can swap child care for dental appointments and the like once you get to know each other; and sharing the same struggles is nice sometimes

Tessa Valyou says: June 30, 2019 at 5:30 am

Yes this hit me right around 8/9 months with my first child too. I very much remember the feeling. You are basically trapped by and very cute sleeping human! It seems so silly and bazar. I would advise when taking ‘date nights’ invite some close friends. I enjoyed that much more than just more time with my husband ha! It feet like it helped the social connection. And try to find a buddy to invite over in the evenings! Start a movie night or book club/game night at your house? Or it switches once a month to another friends with kids house so you both get a night off or a night in? Its a new normal for sure that is hard to adjust to! It does get better and easier!

I am not a mom so sorry if my comment is not super helpful but could your friends stop by for a “girls night in” from time to time. Just snacks ,watching a movie, catching up..Or maybe your mom/mom-in-law could come over for a week from time to time? You sound like a lovely mom and human being so I wish you all the best. As your baby grows, I understand things get easier.

I feel you HARD! When my son was about Annie’s age, he wouldn’t nap one day and so I took him out for a drive. We live in LA and I remember driving by a crowded street in Venice – filled with beautiful people sitting together outside having drinks & lunch, laughing & talking without a care in the world in their fashionable hats. And driving past every cafe with my sleeping kid (in PJ shorts and a T shirt with greasy hair and Gandalf-style unplucked eyebrows), I was hit with this wave of sadness and FOMO that my husband and I never got to do this anymore (like you our families are really far away), and I couldn’t remember the last time I met a friend. All this to say, I love (& loved) my son more than life itself, I just miss(ed) how life used to be. Anyway, I’m here to tell you from my now 3 year old son’s life that it’s better now. Husband and I are better at giving each other days off, social life is richer, expectations are more accurately set, and I can go to the beach with friends and hang while my kid entertains himself without me having to constantly ensure he isn’t on a death march directly into the sea. Husband and I even had a whole long weekend away while my mom and dad stayed w/ kid – it was glorious even tho we still woke up at like 6:30. You know all this already, but you’re so not alone and it does get easier with time. Now that hubs and I have it figured out (lolz jk), I guess it’s time to start over w/ #2?? 😉 Motherhood is hard and the way we do it in the modern world makes it even harder. Thanks for reading my soliloqy and for your honesty!!