Reclaiming me After Motherhood

It has taken over two years, but I finally feel as though I have found ‘me’ again, not just mam, but me. Don’t get me wrong I love being Aria’s mam but boy I have missed being me, being Leanne.

People used to say that I was funny, I made them laugh. I lost that person, I struggled to make conversation let alone make people laugh. I became lonely and boring. The only thing that I was able to talk about with any enthusiasm was Aria and my parenting wins and woes. This very quickly became my go to subject, became who I was.

I always have struggled to make friends, unless I’m drunk and then I can talk the hind leg off a donkey. Small talk is not my forte.

Before becoming a mother I worked in an office for over ten years, an office full of women, women who I knew very well. Women who I would regularly engage in conversation with and just be ‘me’ with. In fact I was often pulled up on for talking too much!

I left these women behind to work from home, and to look after my daughter, the only regular adult conversation that I had (apart from my husband) would be if I attempted to make small talk at baby groups. I missed regular free flowing conversation, I missed gossip, my baby became my security blanket and I lost myself. I forgot who I was, I forgot how to just be me.

More recently I’ve made time for me. I’ve made time to reconnect with old friends, time to connect with new friends. I’ve found myself again. I’ve found myself over those small moments. Bonded with other mothers over a coffee and an eye roll when our kids had that similar strop, smiled with other mother’s when our kids became friends. Those little moments are the ones that count. The ones that helped me find me again.

Whether it’s meeting up with old friends, some who are now parents too, some who aren’t, or making new friends through common interests, and of course, children. It all helps to find you again, to reclaim yourself.

Make time for adults. Even play dates and baby groups are important, they are when you bond with adults, when you get to become you again. Even if it is while keeping one on eye on your wild child.

Motherhood, The Lonely Truth

Isn’t it strange, how you can be so lonely yet rarely alone? Motherhood sure is a strange, and very often, lonely place.

I was lucky, there were several people who I knew on maternity leave at the same time as me, we bonded over our new found common interest. We went to baby & toddler groups together and it was lovely. Then maternity leave came to an end. We work different days, our child’s sleeping patterns clash and we rarely see each other. I tried attending one or two mother and toddler groups on my own once everyone else had returned to work. I hated it. I didn’t chat to anyone. Just sat there like a nervous wreck. Everyone had already formed their friendship groups and I was alone. Much like that lone mother would have felt when she walked in and saw me and my friends sat together, laughing and joking, in a happy group. We didn’t mean to alienate people; but I’m sure that we did.

Working from home is great, I love the flexibility, I love that I get to spend more time with Aria, I love making money doing something that I love. But I hadn’t realised quite how much I would miss gossiping while working in an office along with forty odd women. Those women weren’t just colleagues, they were friends. The harsh reality is that people are busy, people have their own things and you rarely keep in touch.

I am so grateful for my online friends, my blogging friends who keep me sane by flooding my WhatsApp with conversations, advice and banter on a daily (more like a minutely – is that a thing?) basis. Without these girls I really would crack up. These girls have become my rocks, my friends. I may not see them in the flesh, but I see their words and feel their support.

Despite having this amazing support network I still feel lonely. I need to see people, I need to converse and use hand gestures, rather than just typing a sentence and staring at a phone screen.

I have found one baby/toddler class that I enjoy and now try to attend weekly. It is a music and dancing class which takes the pressure off as I just sit there singing and dancing with Aria. I have made pleasant chit chat with a few of the people there, but it has never progressed to anything outside of class. While I won’t be calling these women up for a chat anytime soon, they are there. They may not realise it but just a simple hello and small talk can make a lonely mother feel that little bit less lonely. I just can’t make friends, unless I’m drunk, I make loads of BFFs in those pub toilets, but unfortunately turning up drunk to a baby group isn’t really acceptable, and would doubtful make me any friends.

Next time you go to a mother and baby group and sit there feeling left out because no one is talking to you, just know that there is likely someone else sitting there thinking exactly the same, but they’re just too shy to approach you and remember that a smile and a simple hello really can go a long way.