When Motherhood is Lonely: Encouragement for the Mom Who Feels Alone
I knew that things would be different after having a baby, but I didn’t expect to feel quite so... lonely.
I had my first baby shortly after I turned twenty-two, at the same time that most of my friends were getting their Masters degrees or starting their careers. I was no longer working. No longer in school. Unable to grab drinks with some girlfriends or go out to lunch whenever I wanted. Attending Bible studies and even just attending church became a challenge. I kept busy to the best of my ability and reached out frequently to the few people in my life who might be available, but it turned out that a lot of my days were spent alone in the house, with this tiny, dependent baby as my only companion.
For six months I prayed for things to change. I asked God almost everyday for community and friendship. Most of all, I just wanted to meet moms who were in the same season as me. And after many long months, my prayer was finally answered when I just so happened to stumble across a Facebook event page for a local Moms Club. I immediately had so many fears and questions -- Will I be the youngest mom? Is it alright that my child is only six months old? How do I know that I'll fit in and not just feel like an outsider?
Despite my nervousness, I went anyway. I was desperate enough to put myself through whatever dissapointment that may come. And instead of dissapointment, what I found was exactly what I had been looking and praying for all those months. I decided to join. And before I knew it, I was becoming best friends with these moms and experiencing the beauty of community that I had been so badly longing for.
Now, a year later, I’m still so grateful that I took that leap of faith. Not only have I been able to walk through this past year of my daughter’s life with these women, but a handful of us have actually walked through pregnancy together, too. This year, five of us, all with toddlers under the age of two, had our second babies within the same month! Who could have anticipated this? Certainly not me! And yet the Lord knew.
One of the biggest prayer requests I receive in my inbox through Soul Care for the New Mom has to do with longing for friendships and community. And I often respond to these moms by asking if they’ve considered looking into a local moms group. Because the truth is, sometimes we don’t have what we’re praying for because we haven’t yet stepped outside of our comfort zone to go find it. At least this was the case in my own experience.
Six months went by where my heart’s cry for God to bring me community went unanswered. It was only when I took a leap of faith to go get myself some community that I saw the Lord’s hand moving in this regard. And what came of it was something even greater than I had imagined.
But there is something else I always want to say to these moms, and this is also what I want to share with you today.
Motherhood is lonely.
You can be surrounded by plenty of people, even a group of moms in the exact same season as you, and yet still feel so lonely. I know this because I have seen it to be true for me. As someone who has great community, I still face times of great loneliness. Because the loneliness of motherhood doesn’t just have to do with how many friends you have or how wide of a support system is around you. No, motherhood is lonely by design.
Only you are this child’s mother. You offer them the special comfort that they can’t find anywhere else. You pay attention to the details of their development like nobody else. You alone know how to discern their different cries and the exact way they like to be rocked or held. You’re the only one who cares if they miss a nap or get hungry sooner than expected. You clock in the most hours with your little one and hardly ever get to clock out.
Dear mama, if you are feeling lost and lonely on your motherhood journey, please know that it doesn’t mean you’ve failed or are doing something wrong. It means you're doing something right.
You’re allowing yourself to give fully and freely to that precious baby, even while knowing there is a cost. You’re learning how to bear hard times for the sake of your family, one of many sacrifices you’ll make for the rest of your life. You’re walking through the valley that can refine you and point you to the Most High Comforter.
Yes, it is still important to seek out community. We are reminded through Scripture of the value and necessity of it again and again.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:15-16).
And yet we are not promised that we will find the cure to our loneliness in other people. There are just some things that come hand in hand with living out the calling God has for us, and it should not be a surprise to us if loneliness is one of them. Think of King David, once on the run from man and later on the run from his sin. Think of Job, a man too acquainted with loss. Think of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Think of Jesus and the road he walked to Calvary.
You see, you are in good company.
And although you will find that surrounding yourself with people is not the solution to your every problem, there is something you can cling to and rely on to get you through this season of caring for little ones — the unceasing presence of Jesus through his Holy Spirit and the assurance that you are both seen and known.
"If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." (John 14:15-17, emphasis mine).
One day our little ones will be able to thank us for all we do. We will get more time to do things for ourselves. Our day will consist of more conversations than coos and cries. But in the meantime, we are given the opportunity to make the most of this season and find fellowship with the Lord every single day.
Instead of letting the loneliness of motherhood cripple us, we can allow it to encourage us to run into our Abba Father's arms, which are always ready to receive us.
Because motherhood may be lonely, but we are not alone.