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.