Even though all the people I’ve been in my life were still there, I still felt lonely. When I was up at night and feeding my baby in the dark, my husband would snore next to me. When I looked in the mirror and someone I didn’t recognize looked back: a woman with disheveled hair, hollow eyes, and a pale face. As I thoughtlessly scrolled through my social media timelines with my baby glued to me, I saw pictures of all my friends doing fun things and living the life I’ve always lived with them. As I sat on the sofa in my quiet house when my baby finally fell asleep. When I was walking around the neighborhood with my baby in a sling when he never wanted to sleep again. Everything that had always been there was still there, but suddenly it seemed as if I could only watch from a distance, as if I was still there. As if my life, my world, was racing around me, but I stood motionless.
Together, but alone
How lonely you can be, when all of a sudden you’re with someone all day, I didn’t expect that. I didn’t realize how small your world is when you have a child. How everyone around you continues the life you always lived and how it feels to be left alone. Even when you’re with other people, your spouse, your girlfriends, or your co-workers, you may suddenly feel like you’re miles away from them. It’s as if you live in some kind of parallel universe and have no connection with anyone. The isolation of early motherhood comes as a surprise to many and often makes mothers feel like strangers in their lives for a long time. But you’ve never read about it and no one will tell you. Because motherhood is supposed to enrich your life and make it fuller than it was. Because after all you get to have something really nice with him. Which is certainly true. But loneliness is not about the number of people around you and the number of activities you do, but mainly in the feeling of detachment. Motherhood can cause you to suddenly lose touch with yourself and your life. It may take some time before you regain your relationship with yourself.
Loneliness is dangerous because it is a silent killer. Many mothers live in lonely silence, Don’t you dare talk about how they feel because they think they are alone. Because they think they should feel completely satisfied and that feeling of loneliness when you are lucky enough to be with your child means that something is wrong with you. I know now that I wasn’t the only young single mom. Now that my kids are older and I’m reconnecting with myself, I hear from other moms that they’ve felt the same way I did. That they too had been in that solitude for a long time and felt lonely when they were never alone again. How I wish I knew I wasn’t the only one, and that there are so many women who have felt this way. Then I might still feel lonely, but at least I wouldn’t be alone anymore.
It’s time for women to talk about what motherhood does to them. Because that’s not something to be ashamed of, but simply the logical reality. And the last thing you can use when your world is really upside down is to feel like you’re on your own. Because that’s simply not the case, we’re just too many. So, for all the moms who feel like the world has forgotten about them: it’s not. This world has not changed, I have changed. that’s good. It just takes a while to get to know your new self. Once you’re done, you’ll see that everyone is still there. And they’ll welcome the person you’ve become with open arms.
Read also: A message to a mother who has been through a bit: ‘I’m not the only one’†
Vala van den Bomen (38) is a mother of three: a 10-year-old son with autism, and two daughters, aged 8 and 4, both with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (just like her). On Me-to-We, she writes about the ins and outs of her somewhat sick, but very sweet, family. Through her essays, she hopes to encourage other mothers and bring some sobriety (and necessary sarcasm) to the hysteria that is often present in parenting today. You can also find her stories on Vala.nl.