Loneliness in Motherhood

Originally published Monday, 19 March 2018.

The seasons of motherhood are long and short at the same time.

When my kids were little, I longed for them to grow into a place of greater independence. It seemed like the days of little sleep and constant feedings would never come to an end. But they did. And all too fast.

The same is true of friendships as a mom. When my oldest was first born, there were a couple of other moms in my church who had little ones as well. We started meeting once a week to take our babies out for a walk, to have coffee, or to browse around a store—just something to get out of the house. Then we added "mommy and me" classes to our routine. Before I knew it, several times a week I met with other moms for fellowship and play time with our young children. Our group grew over time and became a highlight of my day. We were all in the same stage with our children so we had a lot to talk about: breastfeeding, nap schedules, development, illness, mommy exhaustion and more. These moms encouraged and carried me through those early days of motherhood. They reminded me of my hope in the gospel and the real source of my strength.

But then things changed. Our kids started school. Those of us who homeschooled our kids were still able to meet on occasion. Some moms returned to work. Eventually, we only saw one another on a special "girls night" we managed to squeeze into our busy schedules.

These days I find motherhood to be a lonely season. I've talked to other moms and discovered it's the same for them as well. Many moms are busy during the day with jobs, homeschooling, or helping out at their children's school. In the afternoons and evenings, they shuttle their kids from one activity to another. Saturday is often filled with sports and other events.

I find myself missing those early days of motherhood when my mom friends and I would sit around someone's living room and watch our kids crawl around and play. I miss having regular contact with people who understand the season of motherhood I'm in—though these days, instead of talking about feeding and sleeping issues, my concerns are braces, puberty, academics, and technology. I miss the spontaneity those early days of motherhood afforded and opportunities for spiritual connection and encouragement. 

It's hard not to want to rush through this current season of life and wish my kids were more independent. Just like those early years, these will past just as quickly. Before I know it, the nest will be empty. I'll have plenty of time then for lunch dates and coffees with friends. So yes, this season is lonely. But just like every season, it will run its course and come to an end. Until then, I will treasure these remaining years with my kids, find joy in serving them, and watch them grow and mature into young men.

But that feeling of loneliness isn't something to be ignored or minimized. I have those feelings because I was made to be in community; God didn't create me to live life on my own. I need my sisters in Christ to pour into me out of the overflow of the Spirit at work in them. I need their gospel encouragement when I am overwhelmed and discouraged in motherhood. I need them to walk alongside me in this journey, pointing me forward when I lose my way, urging me back on the path when I wander, and picking me up when I stumble. What this means is, even though my season of life is busy, I need to make an effort to stay connected. I need to be intentional to seek out spiritual fellowship. I need to seize opportunities when they come. Certainly such fellowship will not be a frequent as it once was. It will likely not be spontaneous. And it will take effort and sacrifice. But I need it. Perhaps even more than I realize.

If motherhood has taught me anything, it's that things change. Motherhood is a season in itself but is also made up of seasons. And as sluggish as those seasons are in the moment, they pass by in a flash. I want to value and cherish every moment before it's gone. But I can't do it alone. No matter how intense or busy a season is, I need to find ways to stay connected to others. I'm better for it— which means my children are better for it as well.

What about you? Have you found particular seasons of motherhood to be lonelier than others?