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Before I had kids I had such a romanticised view of what life as a SAHM must look like. I envisioned plenty of time to get things done, being able to spend more time cooking nice family dinners, maybe do more baking with my baby giggling away happily beside me in a bouncer and so on.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew my baby would need me, but you don’t spend your first pregnancy daydreaming about night feeds, spit up and colicky crying. You think about cuddles and kisses, inhaling that gorgeous new baby smell, walks with the pram, reading stories, playing peekaboo.
When I was pregnant, oh, I listened when people told me to ‘enjoy sleep now’ and to rest while I could, but I didn’t hear it. I didn’t have a clue about the complete exhaustion, the challenge of even getting to have a shower everyday, the utter and total dependence and neediness of a newborn baby, or the overwhelming loneliness that can come with staying at home with your baby.
And so to the lonely stay at home mom – I get it.
I know what it means to never physically be alone but still have never felt so lonely.
It’s easy, as a SAHM to lose your sense of identity and become overwhelmed and even depressed.
Not because you don’t love your baby.
Not even because you don’t enjoy your baby.
Just because it is SO HARD.
And the hard times are not the times that are shared on social media. You don’t see the stressed out mamas with their unwashed hair, faintly perfumed with stale milk, who haven’t spoken to another adult in what seems like forever and are silently losing themselves.
You see the good times. You see the happy faces and gorgeous family shots. You see what people want you to see.
And so it’s easy to start comparing.
Why doesn’t my life look like that?
And along comes guilt. And thrown into that a mix of well-meaning but unhelpful comments from people who just feel the need to share their opinions.
Guilt because you should be happy you are able to be at home with your baby.
‘Ooh aren’t you lucky you don’t have to work’
Guilt because your partner is going out to work and often states he wishes he could stay home instead.
‘Ooh, such a good Dad, working hard to provide so you can stay home.’
Guilt because you’re supposed to be loving every second with your beautiful baby but actually you’re just a bit bored.
‘Oh, how lovely, being able to enjoy all that one-on-one time with your little one’
Guilt because you have the life you thought you wanted, but it isn’t quite what you expected and you should feel grateful and you do, really you do, but you also feel a bit, well, disappointed.
That place is a lonely place. But I promise you, you’re not the only one there.
You’re not the only one who struggles to remember who she was before she had kids, who sometimes wonders whether it was a good idea, who thinks she might scream if she has to listen to one more nursery rhyme.
You’re not the only one who longs for just five minutes of not being touched or needed or wanted, who aches for a conversation that isn’t centered around baby poop.
You’re not the only one who wishes for adult interaction and friendship, but finds the thought of walking in alone to yet another baby group just too overwhelming.
You’re not the only one who despite never technically being on your own and always having the company of your baby, still feels desperately, achingly isolated.
You’re not alone. I promise.
Here are just a few quotes from moms all over the world, at different ages and stages, who are there, who have been there, who understand.
“SAHM life has been more challenging than I ever thought. I had a totally different idea of it in many ways. But I could have never prepared myself, aside from the true loneliness, for how much it would mess with my sense of purpose. I can KNOW that raising a child is important but sometimes it’s easy to feel that in the daily tool of SAHM life. It started to make me feel like my life is small and unimportant and that I wasn’t contributing in any meaningful way to society. I know that’s not true but I never realized how much I would struggle with it.” Jamie, Perpetual Pageturner
“I’ve always been an introvert, preferring the company of a few close friends rather than a large social circle, so I avoided joining a mother’s group when I became a SAHM.
It’s incredibly lonely when you’re at home all day with a baby with no other adults to talk to. If I could go back in time I would’ve reached out to a couple of new moms so I didn’t feel so lonely and isolated as a SAHM.”
Kelly, Natural Health Maven
“The biggest change with becoming a stay at home mom was the immediate distancing from my old coworkers. I had spent years going into work and automatically having social contact with them throughout the day and lunch hour.
While I still kept in contact with them via text once I decided to stay home, it changed the relationship dynamics entirely. You no longer share the little workplace annoyances you can commiserate over.
It definitely makes you feel lonely and like an outsider until you can find some new friends going through similar circumstances.” Stephanie, Mommysaurus