I Didn’t Know Motherhood Would Bring Such Loneliness

Photography:Alexa Doula Photography

By Sarah Palmer

How I’m building my village and creating the community of mums who will change the face of modern day motherhood.

I’m an introvert and find it hard making new friends. Not because I’m bad at talking to people and I’m certainly not unfriendly. It’s because I hate small talk and the obligatory pleasantries. I much prefer deep conversations and connecting with people on a more profound level. I love intellectual and analytical conversations where we can bounce off of one another and learn together.

When you become a mum, most of your conversations revolve around boobs, spew and poop; with a sprinkling of “oh, I’m so tired…but I love my baby”.

When I became a mum, I couldn’t have imagined that, as I was emerging from the newborn bubble and just dipping my toes into mum-versations (you know, the ones about poop), the world would be shut down with a pandemic. I mean, even as the anxious-type who catastrophises most situations, I never saw that one coming!

I never really got the chance to “get out there”. Our “mum’s group” got shut down after only 2 sessions, so we never had the chance to get to know each other beyond how many times we’d been spewed on so far that day. My introverted self was ok with not having to do any more small talk and not having to stress about getting out of the house (and into the car with a baby who screamed the whole way); I could retreat back into my bubble. 

And so it continued. Even as restrictions eased, I didn’t have the confidence to get out, and I was so fearful of the unknown that came with this once-in-a-lifetime virus. And so I stayed in my bubble. I was ok with it, but I was also lonely. Get out again, back into lockdown – a pattern many new mums have been through in the last year.

If you’d told me before that I’d never be alone and yet I’d be incredibly lonely, I’d have said that’s a great contradiction. But as a mum, I feel it to my core now.

There came a point where I wanted more. I wanted to make some friends. I wanted “mum friends”. I tried chatting to mums at the playground – but playground trips are so short in the beginning that we were never crossing paths long enough to get past “oh and how old is your little one?”. I tried a local breastfeeding group, but they met in a coffee shop and my spirited toddler was too interested in trying to get into everyone’s cups and cakes that I barely got a chance to say more than a breathless “Hi, I’m Sarah!” while their kids sat quietly on their laps. As our playground trips became longer, I’d overhear other mums talking about sleep training and know there’s no point me even saying hi, so just a smile and a nod it is. Even a breastfeeding photoshoot, where we stood together with our boobs out in the middle of an oval in the freezing cold wasn’t a place that fostered a long-lasting connection.

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