I think I’ve felt this way about every season of motherhood I’ve been in. I feel like I have no real-life friends, like no one understands, and those that understand aren’t in my vicinity.
I’m a full-time working mom. I’m not the mom in the cul-de-sac at 3:30 watching my kids play, I’m the mom getting home at 5:30, walking my dog and cooking dinner. I don’t have time for bullshit or cliques, either you like me or you don’t, but it’s still hard feeling like you’re on the outside looking in.
When you’re a new mom it’s lonely. In the United States you get 6 weeks maternity leave, if you’re lucky. Even then it’s considered a disability and you only get paid 60% of your salary. Let me say that again… it’s considered a disability. Pregnancy in the United States in 2019 is seen as a disability. And if the company you’re working for (like my former employer) has a hidden clause in there about having to be employed with them for a year before your disability pay is approved, you get nothing… zero. Unbeknownst to me, I took nine weeks of UNPAID maternity leave. It took us 18 months to catch up from that.
You get home from the hospital with a newborn that you have no idea how to care for yet. You’re stressed because you’re not contributing financially, while bringing home a baby that takes up even more financial resources to care for. Your husband (or partner, or sister, or mom) goes back to work or their own life, and you’re alone… alone with a baby that doesn’t want to be put down, won’t sleep when their supposed to, and traps you on the couch without your phone. It’s lonely.
It’s lonely going back to work, because no one understands why you’re crying at your desk after leaving your newborn at daycare. No one understands how hard the working-while-pumping life is, and how physically draining it can be. No one understands the pressure of not getting sleep, not being able to consume mass amounts of caffeine, dressing your post-partum body professionally, and dealing with all the hormones while still trying to meet deadlines. I tried talking with other women, and they were either the victims or heroes in their own stories – meanwhile, I just needed a friend that understood how freaking hard the work-life balance had become seemingly overnight. I needed a friend.
You’re lonely with baby… a few months older and that personality is starting to shine through. But your whole life has turned into working and then going home to feed, bathe, and get that baby to sleep – and on the weekends you’re just trying to soak up as much time as you can. You don’t have time for friends or for going out, and you don’t want to invite your friends into a house you haven’t cleaned for 6 months, so what do you do?
Then you have another baby and the cycle starts over… but now you have the never-ending weekend nap cycle. Baby #2 goes down for a nap and then wakes up, you feed both children and then lay #1 down for a nap while you play with #2, #1 wakes up and you feed both children again, and then lay #2 down for their nap. By the time #2 wakes up from their nap you may get a few minutes of play time with both before you need to start dinner. Anyone else’s weekends look like this? Or maybe it’s every day. Either way… it’s lonely. You’re trapped in the house with no adult conversation and only social media to keep you company. Play dates are like that dream you hope for, but never materializes.
I try to relate to the stay at home mom’s in my neighborhood, but it’s hard. Their houses are clean, their yards are perfect, and their kids all play together after school. Meanwhile, my kids play with their friends at daycare while waiting for me to come pick them up, and ask every day if they can play outside… but when we get home, the other kids are already eating dinner. So I think my kids are lonely too.
Please don’t get me wrong… I LOVE my job and the ability I have to write for a living, apart from this blog. I LOVE the company I work for. I’m not built to be a stay at home mom, I just wish I had friends in real life that understood the balance. I just wish I didn’t feel alone.
I don’t have a solution other than to ask you to be friendly to those mom’s outside your group. The mom’s that are busy, the mom’s that are new, the mom’s that are working – we need you. We need your ability to commiserate and laugh, to share a glass of wine and whine. To create space in the mess and leave all judgement at the door. I need a hug.
Girl… I know I have been around for a lot of these struggles, but I know that I just can’t truly relate (no matter how hectic life can get with a dog and a lot of other things going on, haha). You are such a strong woman, and an amazing mom, despite how it may feel sometimes. I have no solutions, other than to offer a rare ladies night out when I’m in town next. Keep doing you, cause you are inspirational. And give me a few years, maybe I’ll be able to relate then, haha.
Thanks Em. Your struggles are not any less impactful than mine, they’re just different. And yes! Girls night when you’re back in town for sure!
It’s been a few years, but I remember TOO WELL being lonely like that Rachel. Consider yourself HUGGED a long time – you’re doing a fantastic job as a FT working Mom, as a Mom in general.
Thanks Tonya, I really appreciate that, and consider yourself hugged back!
Thanks for sharing this. I can totally relate and sometime even envy those stay at home moms. For most of my sons first year, I cried because I couldn’t spend my whole day with him. It’s gotten better but the struggle is real.
Same here. I cried so much my daughter’s first year because I felt I was missing out on everything. We found a great in home daycare, so I knew she was well cared for, but I always feared she would end up calling her nanny “mom.” Hugs girl.
The grass isn’t always greener. Being a mom is hard, having kids is hard, and it can all be so lonely, stay at home mom or working mom. Being a stay at home mom, I often feel like my only friend is a 3yo who won’t stop touching me and asking the same questions on repeat. I miss out on field trips if I can’t find a babysitter for my youngest, while my working mom friends take the day off of work and leave their younger babies at their normal daycare to join their older kids on a field trip. My kids ask to join flyers because all of their friends are there and they want to play with them after school. What I provide at home isn’t as exciting to them as what their friends might be doing at flyers.
When I see my working mom neighbors together, I want to say hi, but wonder if I’ll say something foolish… is all I have to talk about kids while they have intellectual conversations about big projects they are working on or places they’ve traveled to lately for important meetings?
It’s easy to feel anxious and lonely as a mom… I feel it all the time!
Long story short, I hear you, you are not alone and the grass certainly isn’t greener!! Stay at home moms probably feel the same way as you and feel like they are on the outside looking into your life of work, social time at the office, coffee breaks and lunch breaks with co-workers who talk about things other than kids.
PS, my house and yard aren’t clean or neat all the time. I have a 3 year old shadow who makes that near impossible. When I invite people over I spend 30 minutes speed cleaning my house while my kids watch TV 😝
Liz, thanks for your perspective! I love what stay at home mom’s are able to provide and do, and by no means want to diminish your contribution. I’m such an extrovert that I really love talking with everyone about everything. I tried to be a stay at home mom for a while and couldn’t do it, so please know that I hear you! The field trips are a hard balance here too, because I can’t always get my PTO approved… so I feel like I’m missing out on even more than I already do. I think we all have it rough, just in different ways. I think loneliness affects us all, and to hear your kids perspective warms my heart to know we’re not alone in feeling like we’re all missing out on something. One of my SAHM friends gave me a great piece of advice and said, “Maybe it just requires stepping outside of your comfort zone to find someone you click with.” And I think that’s true. I think my anxiety and socially awkward ways trip me up, and I forget that instead of waiting for an invite I can just reach out. Feel free to waive and say hi… I’ll chat with you 🙂
YES!! All these things. It was so hard for me to got back to work after my son was born. I felt like everyone else had it together and I was losing my mind. Thank you for writing this!