The first semester of my new college adventure is over. I can take a minute to write about something that’s been impressed upon me this semester. It seems like this time went by so slow and yet I hardly had any time to take a break and connect with people. Classes full of people, all on their own journeys, all studying diligently to make their way to their separate goals. Some connections were made, some I hope will continue to grow into lovely friendships; but for the most part I felt more than a bit lonely at times.
I know it may seem a bit (or a lot) cliche to say this, but loneliness doesn’t always limit its comings to the times when you are alone. As a matter of fact, sometimes you can feel the loneliest when you’re surrounded by people.
I think mothers feel the truth of that statement more sharply than most. Why? Aren’t they always, or almost always, with their kids, husbands, families, etc? How can you be lonely when you’re never really alone?
Well, I bet if you ask any mama; any working, homeschooling, stay at home, work from home, student, step, adoptive, empty nesting, or toddler chasing mama, they will tell you that yes, in fact they have felt their share of loneliness.
I think any mama can tell you that when your entire world is consumed by the life of another, one who solely and completely depends on you, one who is completely unaware of the fact that you are anyone outside of being their mama; that when your only time to yourself is well, never, it can get a lot lonely at times.
Thank God for mommy groups! Thank God for church women who know just how lonely these phases of life can be. But what if you don’t have that resource? What if you can’t go to those Tuesday morning, or Wednesday night meetings?
How isolating it can be when you’re so busy pouring yourself out for your precious children that your own needs come in last, or 2nd to last in matters of importance. When you’re so busy with work, school, housework, and life in general; that your daily interactions consist of your five minute conversation with the lady behind you in the grocery store checkout line or the time it takes to explain to your toddler why no, he can’t stick his finger in the light socket.
Oh how clearly I’ve felt this isolation in these past 15 weeks. Everyday brought these feeling closer and closer to the surface of my mind until, with 2 weeks left until finals I had simply had enough. Dealing with a new disease, a heartbreaking miscarriage, and the stress of studying while trying to keep my house from crumbling under the weight of laundry and dishes, and my daughter from destroying what was left as she explores everything and puts things that definitely shouldn’t go there into her mouth. All of this left me feeling bitter, resentful, sad, and yes, lonely. In fact, loneliness was what I felt most of all.
It was so tempting to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself. So tempting. Mamas, you all know what I mean. Your feelings are justified! You’re tired! You just want to have one conversation with an adult that lasts longer than ten minutes and isn’t interrupted by someone pulling on your pant leg or reaching into your purse for lunch money! You just want to laugh with a friend and feel like you are a person outside of your motherhood.
We all do.
So why are some of us feeling so lonely? If we all want the same things, to connect on a deeper level than just the shared experience of stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night or the struggles of peeing by ourselves, then why don’t we just step out of our shells and find someway, anyway, to connect?
I think I can speak for more than just myself when I say that cultivating friendships that are lasting, that go deeper than just venting about our children, jobs, husbands, etc… is a scary, exhausting endeavor.
Scary because we all want to look like we have it all together and we realize that if we spend more than ten minutes with another mama, she will surely be able to see evidence of our failings. She will judge us. We work, we home school, we stay at home but send our kids to public school. We eat organic everything and workout everyday; or we frequently buy Stoffer’s dinners and stop for McDonald’s on the way home from dance recitals, soccer practice, family counseling, church; and working out consists of carrying the laundry back and forth, up and down 2 flights of stairs.
We are afraid to be vulnerable. We don’t want to be judged. We don’t want the fact that we struggle to be common knowledge because if it is, we can’t be supermom any more and we can’t look at other mamas and say silent thanks that we don’t have those issues.
Pride keeps us from being real with each other, which in turn keeps us from those friendships, those connections, that realness, that we desire so much.
Mamas are arguably the most tired people of the face of the earth. And let’s face it, caring about another person as deeply or more deeply than you care about yourself, only drains you of more energy. It’s easier to follow the same routine, to have surface deep relationships, to go to and from work, home, soccer or dance, church or where ever, and simply not talk to another person about anything other than the weather or the news.
Having relationships has to be intentional. And being intentional takes energy. Precious energy that we are reluctant to spend on yet another person.
Really though mamas, if we don’t let ourselves be vulnerable, if we keep up this facade that we have it all together, if we keep competing with one another for that coveted Mama Of The Year Award, if we don’t let go of our pride and our fear and put ourselves out there, we are going to find ourselves tearing at the seams. We will be sad. Lonely. Self Pitying.
And there is no award for the Mama with the Most Stress in Her Life.
I know you’re exhausted. I am too. But we can’t let that stop us from making connections. From loving on one another. From building each other up. In the same way that an object at rest stays at rest unless something moves it; mamas who don’t invest time and energy into relationships will always find themselves to be lonely unless they are intentional about making themselves available to others. To spending some of their precious energy stores on other people. Always.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to stay lonely. I don’t want to follow the same routine every day with no end in sight. I am not satisfied with surface deep relationships.
So let’s lay down our pride, our judgement, our fear, our (dare I say it) selfishness. Let’s be intentional. Loving. Of ourselves and of others. And let’s Connect.
If we do this mamas, I promise, we won’t be lonely anymore.