The irony of loneliness in motherhood

My pre-baby self could not have possibly imagined or understood the concept of loneliness. I was working full-time and full-on, travelling lots and had a life full to the brim with people, with stuff going on.

As far as I was concerned loneliness was for old people.

Then Baby Number 1 came along everything changed.  I was super busy of course.  Newborns are quite time consuming….but not in the same way as a job. You can’t switch them off at 6pm, for one.

Being self-employed I was lucky enough to be able to choose when and how I would go back to work, which happened to be when baby was around 12 weeks.  It was mainly work-from–home stuff which was ideal – I cherished those few hours when my other half would take over baby-duty and I would engage my brain in something all-consuming. 

But this type of work was by its very nature isolating.  When I was ‘mumming’ it was me + baby.  When I was working, it was me + my laptop.

My interactions with actual adult human beings were few and far between.  Being an introvert by nature you’d think that would suit me down to the ground, but only much later on that I realised the impact. 

In fact, it wasn’t until now that I have had a chance to reflect a bit more on what I experienced during that first year.  It was really isolating, but at the time you are kind of in survival mode – and so maybe just get on with it. 

The irony of loneliness in motherhood is that you are never actually alone – you have a brand new human being 100% reliant on you 24 hours a day….surely then the last thing you would feel is lonely?  

Yes of course I went to every baby class out there and tried to meet new mums….but I always missed that rapport you get when you meet someone you actually want to be friends with.  We just didn’t click. I just wasn't very good at it.

So it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a lot of research out there on loneliness and new mums.  In one survey (Mother & Baby magazine with Tesco) of 2000 mums, just over 53% said they were lonely and isolated in their role as mum. That's half of us who are actually lonely throughout what is supposed to be the happiest and most magical time of our lives.  

With baby Number 2 on the way, this got me thinking – how can I safeguard against this with the next baby?  It starts with me.  I have pledged to become better at being social and building relationships with others.  So there you go. Watch out world….!

Claire Whitehouse