When you have a baby, everything changes. I don’t need to tell you this, by now. Suddenly, everything you did so easily takes effort and consideration. You can’t leave the house without a three-pronged attack. Can you even be bothered? You haven’t got anywhere particular to go and you’re not feeling ready to try that new playgroup down the road. Maybe you’ll just stay in.
A couple of hours later and you feel that sinking feeling, deep in the pit of your stomach, that’s becoming so familiar.
If you had to guess what it was, you’d say it feels a bit like loneliness. But that can’t be right, can it? How can you be lonely, when you’re literally never alone? No one mentioned that amidst sleepless nights and constant feeding.
Would you believe me if I said you’re not the only mum who feels like this? That all mums feel this sense of loneliness every now and then, regardless of how popular they are (I did). Looking after a baby (and possibly other siblings) can be relentless; you don’t have the time or the energy to connect with those around you. Some days there’s nothing left for you. Some days you don’t see another adult between the hours of 7 and 7. Some days it feels as though you’ve left the outside world, that carries on without you, and ‘boasts’ about it on social media.
There’s an instant remedy. Go out. You may be tired without anywhere particular to go. But that world is still there. It doesn’t matter where you go. It only matters that you go. To the park. For a coffee. Chat to the barista. Strike up a conversation with that other mum in the park, who is probably there for the same reason you are. Because she feels a bit lonely. A bit lost.
It can feel awkward. You’ll question what you’ll get out of it, really. Perhaps you already have enough friends and don’t need any more. But you know what? You do need more. At this stage in your life. You need other mum friends. Like you. Who live nearby, so you feel connected. So it’s easy to meet up. So you feel part of something.
If you can face it, go somewhere where you know there’ll be other mums. A baby class. Or a playgroup. It will feel strange to start with. Forced even. Does everyone else know one another? (Probably not, they’re going through the motions, just as you are.) These places save a mum’s soul because having a regular place to go is so important. Having a cup of tea made for you and a fleeting chat with another mum who just gets it? You can’t put a value on that.
If you felt invisible, go back again. Speak to someone. Anyone. Because that mum you talked to? They’ll be so glad you did. You made a difference to their day. You made them feel less alone.
YOU. Who almost didn’t leave the house this morning.
Amy Ransom is a mum of three and author of the Notebooks For Mum series, including bestseller, The New Mum’s Notebook, a reassuring companion to the first year of motherhood and the newly released organiser for the first year at primary school, The School Mum’s Notebook. All available from notebooksformums.co.uk.