Motherhood is one great big lesson in paradox.
Like when we become moms and feel at once personally important — to this baby and this little family unit — and completely obsolete professionally and to the wider world.
Or when we yell our stubborn toddler to sleep at night, then sit by her bed after she’s asleep and stare at that sweet face for a half-hour, full of tenderness, love and wonder.
Or when we learn, like so many new moms before us have learned, that despite being in constant physical and emotional contact with a tiny, needy human all day and night, motherhood can be an intensely lonely experience.
Becoming a mother transforms our lives, often in deeply disorienting ways. We love that baby with our whole heart, of course, but this shift to a world in which our own wants and needs are not the most important thing can be challenging. Caring for babies can leave us feeling isolated, even from close friends and partners. As author and activist Glennon Doyle wrote of those first years of motherhood: “I was both lonely, and never alone.”
We’d kill to have one conversation that isn’t about diapers or tummy-time. We miss the company of other adults.
But babies grow and eventually we find our mom-friend tribe and we leave the house. Things get easier.
Motherhood is still hard, though. Life is busy, the kids still need us, and going to the hair salon or to the gym or just to Safeway without the kids can feel like an indulgence, one that maybe we don’t think we deserve. And then one day we find ourselves fighting the almost overwhelming urge to just drive off into the mountains alone. Now what we crave above all else is solitude. We’d give anything for a couple hours to sit alone in a garden and read a book, or walk in the woods, or stroll…slowly…through every single aisle at Target.
Motherhood teaches us what a rare gift solitude can be. We learn there is immeasurable value in being alone, in its peace and beauty. Sometimes we have to re-learn how to be happy in our own company, to allow our minds to quiet, our anxiety to ease. Spending time alone, without our children or anyone else, allows room for self-reflection and can inspire wild bursts of personal growth and creativity.
So here we are as mothers — swaying between raw pangs of loneliness and a powerful desire to be alone.
To the moms who crave solitude, who just need an hour or two away from the kids, I am right there with you. That’s me raising my latte in salute to you as you pass me in the Target aisle at 9 p.m. Understand that you absolutely deserve time to yourself, and that the kids will be alright without you for a while, and that you’ll probably be a better mom for it.
For the new moms who feel isolated and crave company, play groups and library story times can help. So can long, nourishing phone conversations with old friends. So can listening to podcasts, or reading blogs and books written by other women who are standing with you in the trenches of new motherhood. There are also several local resources to check out:
- The Wenatchee Mother-Baby Support Group meets at 1 p.m. on Mondays at the Wenatchee Library.
- Get connected with your local MOPS support group. MOPS stands for “Mothers of Preschoolers” but the organization has expanded to include moms with older kids.
- The indoor playground at Pybus is open for the season. It’s a warm place full of toys for toddlers to play with during the cold months, while you enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation. With a few exceptions, the play area will be open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-noon each week through March.
- Story times at the Wenatchee Public Library are great opportunities to connect with other parents.
- The Wenatchee YMCA offers Toddler Time Thursdays, open gym for little ones every Thursdays from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
- Catholic Family and Child Service hosts several play-and-learn events each week for children up to age 5 and their caregivers. The Kaleidoscope Play and Learn group meets Wednesdays at the First Methodist Church at 10 a.m., Thursdays at the Wenatchee Public Library at 10 a.m., and Fridays at the Hope Center at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The play sessions are free and no registration is required. For more information call 664-7350 ext. 3093.
Any other suggested events or programs? Let me know and I’ll add them to this list: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care of yourselves, moms.