Life can be lonely regardless of the stage you’re in. As a divorced mum I’ve been so lonely I think I feel it on a physical level; it’s a stabbing pain that doesn’t get soothed by ignoring it and trying to stay busy, but if I’m being honest, I try and keep it at bay with the “busy.”
There have been days and evenings and early mornings when I know if I stop, even for a moment, the loneliness might swallow me up, and I don’t know how I could withstand something like that so I fill the void however I can.
Sometimes it hits me after I’ve been cleaning and occupying my mind with an audio book and I sit down on the sofa to rest, and find myself looking out the window. The loneliness comes and pours over me and I feel like I might crack open and not be able to seal it back up, so I keep going.
And sometimes I feel it when all three of my kids are home wanting things from me without seeing me or making me feel like I even matter unless I meet their needs.
Married Women Feel Lonely
Loneliness stings; it takes your breath away; it’s one of the worst feelings we can feel. I’ve wondered if my loneliness has gotten worse since my divorce, but when I’m think back, I felt lonely sometimes as a married woman too, it just looked different.
Like during a family holiday when I’d bend over backward trying to make sure we did everything everyone else wanted to do, and made sure we had what we needed for the trip, or when I spend my day rushing around to get my stuff done so I can spend quality time with my family, even though they rarely answer me when I speak to them.
As I was browsing Facebook the other day I came upon an article published in The Atlantic entitled “Why Mothers Are Still Lonely” and it made me sad to read it because of its reality, but also a little less lonely because it’s proof I’m not alone in feeling this way, despite being surrounded by three kids and keeping up with their schedules.
A Family Doesn’t Take Away The Loneliness
We have this preconceived notion that after we have gotten married and started a family, loneliness will be a thing of the past– I’m starting to believe loneliness is our biggest fear – no one wants to be alone with their thoughts. They are dark and deep and take you to places you don’t want to go.
But the fact so many mothers are lonely, whether they work or stay at home, seems to come from us not really knowing who we are at times. We are so busy keeping our homes running as smoothly as possible, and our minds are so scattered, we don’t have time to think about ourselves or our goals as we once did.
One mum told me. “I am the mum of 1 child with autism. I feel lonely, no one looks out for my needs. I even scheduled surgery and postponed, because no one will take care of me. I have been married 11 years, and my husband is selfish and uncaring.”
While another single mother told me,” As a single mum I feel incredibly lonely in the evenings when all the work Is done. When all the daily tasks are complete and my young son is in bed, should be my time to relax and unwind but it’s so lonely. Once I have no more responsibilities I tend to feel lost and wanting some sort of company.”
Another woman who has been married for 12 years told me she felt the most lonely when she’s done with work and comes home in time to meet the kids there after school, “then it’s on to homework, dinner, cleaning. By the time my husband is home at 7:30 I’ve been pulled around to help pick up, get down, spell and serve then clean up. He walks in and chats about school and says good night. He eats the dinner I made and saved for him then his night is his to enjoy.”
It’s no secret mothers have a heavier mental load to carry– we’ve talked about it with our friends, we’ve wondered what would happen if we didn’t do so much and it makes us cringe when we think about all the things that would just be ignored knowing if we ever want them to get done it is us who has to see them to completion.
And it’s an exhausting and lonely state to live in.
And it seems when the kids grow up and leave, you experience loneliness all over again as one grandmother told me, “As a mother of 4 grown children who now lives alone I’m definitely experiencing the empty-nest syndrome. I didn’t at first because there was such a short span of time between my youngest leaving home and my oldest daughter having a baby. The grandchildren have filled the void for a while. Now they are getting older too.
While I don’t have the answer or cure to loneliness, I do know this: I am forever grateful for my fellow mum friends who can relate, because it is in those moments when I say to another mother, “I’m so sick of feeling invisible and like I don’t matter,” and they come back with a “me too” There is something comforting about it.
As Mums We Feel Ashamed For Feeling Lonely
I think as mums we feel ashamed for feeling lonely–we are surrounded by people all the time, running around like crazy. But the thing is we can love being a mum and feel like we are invisible, we are allowed to feel both and many of us do.