Thursday, October 14, 2010

How is it possible to feel so lonely, when you're never, ever, EVER actually alone?

I think that motherhood can be a wonderful "club." Especially when the kids aren't mobile yet, and you can cart them easily to "playdates" that are really nothing more than an excuse for the moms with babies to get together to drink coffee (or wine). And, when the kids are small enough that they aren't in school yet, so there are more opportunities to get together with other moms to share stories and to laugh and to get support from others who are going through it (and to have more wine)...

I also think that motherhood can be lonely. Incredibly lonely. You wouldn't think it would be possible, when most mothers can't even pee or take a shower by themselves, without one kid or the other barging in with a need or a want or a "Mommmmmmmyyyyyyyyy........Foster broke my invention!" or "Mommmmmyyyyyyyy....Spencer hit me in the neck!"

I mean, if your house is anything like my house, you're never alone for a minute. You leap out of bed, heart pounding every morning, go through the frenzied, frantic, chaotic morning routine that somehow ends up with your kids in their respective schools/daycares and you at work, just in the nick of time. You work all day, then you reverse the situation and, with no time to stand around shooting the breeze with your co-workers, you race out of there to go through the frenzied, frantic,chaotic afternoon routine that somehow ends up with all of you back home, more or less in one piece. You take care of emptying backpacks, reading agendas and notes from the school, listening to the messages on your answering machine, advancing the endless laundry to the next cycle, and then try to squeeze in a few minutes of "fun" time with your kids, before it's time to make dinner. Then it's bath time, story time, songs, and, finally, finally, your kids are in bed, leaving you feeling guilty about being relieved that your children are now unconscious and, therefore, not demanding anything from you. Then, it's go back out to the kitchen to make the lunches for the next day, to set the coffee maker so you'll have that invaluable morning infusion of caffeine, clean up the kitchen, throw enough toys in their respective baskets to clear a path for walking, pet each of your poor, neglected dogs on the head, at least once, just to relieve the guilt you feel for not taking them for a walk AGAIN, push the unpaid bills to the side of the counter, and then collapse. You're alone. The house is quiet. But, by then, you're too exhausted to appreciate this moment of silence and calm, and, as the case usually is in my house, that's right when hubby finally arrives home from work, all full of energy, wanting to talk or watch T.V. or something...After all, the work is already all done. The kids are asleep. He's got nothing to do but talk or watch T.V. or something... And, all you want to do is escape into sleep, because you know you have to start all over again in just a few short hours, and you can't even imagine how you're going to get through another day.

So, you're never really alone. And, yet, there's loneliness. There's the feeling that you're in this all by yourself. That nobody else is feeling as overwhelmed or frustrated or exhausted as you are. That all those women who have partners who are home for dinner every night and home all weekend to help with the parenting, or who have mothers or mothers-in-law who live in town and pop over to take over with the kids once a week or bring over dinner (just because), or who have neighbors with kids the same age and offer reciprocal babysitting services, so you can actually go out on dates with your husband (imagine that!) or get your grocery shopping done, or just have a half-an-hour to yourself, or go to the gym...  just don't get it. And, you want to say "Please, just live my life for a week. Just for a week. Or maybe 48 hours. Then, you'll understand, and I won't feel so alone, anymore."

But, you don't say it out loud. You deal with it. You go on. You tell yourself that there are other moms who have it much, much worse than you, and you count your blessings. And, you try as hard as you can not to feel envious of the moms who have it much, much easier than you (especially if they are friends you love and miss), because envy is a nasty, horrible, destructive feeling that doesn't do anybody any good and just leaves you feeling ungrateful and whiny and unappreciative of the good things you have in your life. So, you search for joy, and you remind yourself that life is fleeting, and you try to hang on to those moments of bliss with all of your might. And, you try to live your life as an upbeat and optimistic person (with only the occasional full-on emotional meltdown in the grocery aisle at Fred Meyer), because the alternative is just too depressing.

And, once-in-a-while, you send your thoughts out into the blogosphere at 4:30 in the morning, because you just have to get it out, and because you're hoping that someone out there will read your words and will understand. Because then you're not really alone, afterall. Right?


  1. Oh Beth. This post is right on the mark. This is hard. And ultimately you can only count on yourself. And unfortunately if your self is like my self, it's exhausted. I mean, clearly. You lay it all out here. You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone.

  2. How did you get into my diary?

  3. Oh I totally understand. I call it my marathon and I wonder if I am ever going to stop running. I am lucky that I have a hubby at home almost all the time with me but we are both teachers so one of us usually has tons of grading or planning to do. I sometimes feel that I can go an entire week without really stoppiing to do somehting for me or connect with another person because I am running running running. I love to take some time to work out but that is so out of my realm of possibility but yet I still feel guilty. Hell I am even reading blogs and posting while I pump at my desk at work so that my daughter can have bottles tomorrow. Sadly I am excited to go to a baptism tomorrow why becasue I can sleep in the car! I know how you feel and I am sending you a super big hug right now!

  4. OMG you just described me! Glad to read I am not the only one.

  5. As I sit here with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, all I can say is thank you. Thank you for your wonderful words of support and encouragement and understanding. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me the perfect gift -- your words are EXACTLY what I needed. So, here's to you! (Of cousre, I have a glass of cabernet beside me right now.) Cheers, and thank you for reaching out across cyberspace to make this particular mommy feel a little less alone.

  6. Thank YOU, Beth, for giving voice to this being that lives inside mommies. xo

    I had a 25 year old guy say to me a few months ago, "You still read blogs? Nobody reads blogs anymore." Well, buddy, maybe if you were a mom you would. And it's less reading than reaching for a lifeline.

  7. Sunshine, They say it gets easier the older they get - but don't believe them. It is a lie. My boys (11 and 8) and even though i have heaps and heaps of friends mostly it seems to be me and the thoughts in my head - but lets not go there. thanks for writing what most of us think and look forward to more rants. hooroo

  8. Noelle & Elizabeth,
    Thanks for adding your words to those of the wonderful women, above. We just all need to stick together however we can, eh? Cheers!

  9. Got your link from Kami (above! she rocks!) and can not stop nodding, or feeling like I might cry because I get it, all of it. You're not alone. I've been feeling this burn lately too. I have so many balls, juggled precariously in the air and I have been so worried about dropping one and unraveling the carefully constructed web of security and normalcy that I've woven. Some days I just want to cry, but who has time for that? Some days I want to scream "I need a break!" But who's around to pick up and do what obviously needs to be done? Yeah, we shoulder on. I hope that one day we can all look back and truly know in our hearts that we are doing the best we can with what we've got and it will all be ok, that we've done ok.

    Hugs! Lots of them!