This lonely life

There’s so much about motherhood that I find lonely.

It’s such a strange concept because you’re almost never alone when you’re a mother. You can’t even shit without your little person handing you toilet paper. Showers have audiences. There’s often more than two people in the bed and it’s not the exciting kind of more than two people in a bed experience. My two year old is always talking to me. Where’s this? What’s that? This please. That’s mine! No! NO! He provides a non-stop commentary throughout his day. All in the third person.

And yet – I feel deprived of conversation. I talk to him about why you have to be gentle with the “beuful bufly” and why it’s not a good idea to put rocks in the baby’s basket. I talk to the baby: “Are you hungry sweetheart?” The answer is usually quite clear when he attacks my nipples with the ferociousness of an angry platypus (I imagine angry platypuses are very ferocious). I talk to myself: “They’re both asleep? At the same time? What do I do?”

I long to talk to other parents while at the same time being too exhausted to actually engage in proper conversation with said parents or to seek out those parents to make said conversation. The internet helps. This blog has made me feel a lot less alone. Twitter was my lifeline when my oldest son was born. Especially when I spent long nights awake in hospital staring at him with only my fears to keep me company.

In the two and a half years since I became a mother I have made some really, really great friends. Friends I can’t imagine my life without now. I love them fiercely. They make life better. They’re real friends where you know it’s not just the kids keeping you together. When I went back to work I envied their playdates and wished I was sitting in their warm and loving homes sharing coffee. I missed them.

This – my second time around – is different as they’re all working or studying now. My home is warm and loving, but it’s empty of adult companionship.

And at night, without my husband in bed with me, feeding in the darkness, I feel very lonely. There’s something truly isolating about breastfeeding. It’s again, such a strange concept, because you literally have another being attached to you. But ultimately it’s just you. You’re alone with your sore, cracked nipples. That painful let down that can be so forceful it can bring tears to your eyes in those early days. At a big family picnic on the weekend I sat in the bathroom feeding. There’s definitely nothing more isolating than hearing laughter and shouting when you’re stuck in a tiny room alone.

I know I should go to playgroups. Maybe baby sensory. Or a rock and rhyme musical thing. There’s a lot to do out there. But by the time I have the kids dressed and changed and fed – it’s almost time for my toddler’s nap. And I will not fuck with my toddler’s nap time. It’s the only time I have to do any housework or to check the news or have a solo poop.

If I somehow do manage to get to one of the absurdly early mum and bub groups I feel so awkward walking in late with a toddler who is wearing a helmet, batman cape, and mismatched shoes. Especially when he’s chomping on some not organic at all totally processed and definitely bad for you type of food thing. I worry about what others are thinking. That’s quite narcissistic because they probably don’t give a shit. But I’m not a confident parent so those thoughts come easily.

I find mum groups intimidating. The other mums seem so together. They have philosophies – attachment parenting, free-range parenting, permissive parenting, evolutionary parenting, maybe even paleo parenting – like, no nuts or something. I can’t even spell Montessori (I had to Google it). They speak with such confidence on positive parenting, body autonomy for children – all things I care about but don’t feel I know anything about. What do you do if your parenting philosophy is just – try to make it through the day without anybody getting badly injured?

I’m sure my philosophy of just Do Your Best and Love Your Kids is exactly the same as theirs when it comes to the crunch – but I feel overwhelmed with how on to it they are. They know what they’re doing. Any topic there is they seem to have thought a lot about how to approach it. I often just feel out of my depth.

But six weeks in I’m lonely. So I’m going to have to sort it out.

Or I’m going to have to start a playgroup of mums who try hard but fail quite a bit but never intentionally. One where it’s OK for me to show up with a bit of puke in my hair. Or to drink eight coffees even though I’m breastfeeding. Or to confess that I get Montessori and Steiner mixed up. One where it’s OK to turn up late. And forget your kid’s drink bottle. And wipes. Why do I always forget wipes?

Maybe I’ll start recruiting today. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

So, if a sloppy looking, sweaty, haggard red head with two kids hanging off her approaches you in the park – smile or run (depending on how you feel about this post).


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55 Comments on “This lonely life

  1. Oof. I can’t pretend to know what this is like, but I can always supply the wipes for you xx

  2. Smiling! Cause I too don’t even know what the point of montessori is and i’ve never even heard of steiner!

  3. Hi…i totally can connect with everything you are saying in all your posts. Im so glad someone finally has the guys to tell the real truth about motherhood. My best friend and i are always talking about the real truths and cannot understand why you have to be a superhero all the time as a mum. Because obviously we are not. Anyway i just wanted to let you know that i would gladly be apart of your playgroup. Im in melbourne so i hope that u are too. Xxx

  4. Honestly, I feel like you climbed inside my brain and typed. What a legendary post. I was/am ‘that mum’. Another mum said ‘oooooh, you’re ‘that mum'” to me in the school yard the other day as I haphazardly waltzed in late and admitted that I had no idea the kids had been given homework since week 1 ( it’s now week 5 or something..?)
    Anyway. Solidarity in numbers sister. I’ll be part of your play group any day!

    • How rude! Cannot believe someone said that to you! Can I join too?! I’ll bring the baked goods 🙂

  5. If a red head with two kids hanging off her comes towards me, it probably won’t be you, but imma be nice to her anyway because I remember those years. (((hugs))) from across the ditch.

  6. I wish we could hang IRL. I’m out in Piha and I have no friends of my own. Wahhhh. I am coming to Welly in April though! Baby date??

  7. My baby is 16 now… But you bring me to tears ( in a good way)reading your blog… You’re funny and vulnerable and human… You are doing perfectly 🙂

    • As someone who does the montessori thing (sort of), I do not do so after years of research or accompanied by any belief that it is the only or best way. I just taught in a montessori preschool in my early twenties and it’s my easy go-to for when there are overwhelming options for approaching something. Plus, my sister’s kids do montessori preschool and aren’t little shits, so it seemed like a ringing endorsement.

  8. I want to be part of your group… although I don’t have kids… I could borrow one or two though. Love your blog.

  9. Oof, this made me teary. I do hope you meet these mums, they’re definitely out there – I was one, though that being said, when it was me being freaked out & just trying to make it through, all the other mums I met at groups were a decade older & *much* more onto it.
    I can say though, with some confidence now that mine is 18 – our way is OK. They actually turn out great. Those other mums might be raising neurotics 😉

  10. I found parenting so isolating and when i went back to work i found so much happy in the simplest things -so much that people would tell me I was too damn perky for 8am. I missed the mama crew something fierce though, I still do. I feel ya sister – my boobs are no longer leaky and I get to crap on my own from Monday to Friday but I’m thinking of you and yours and hoping tomorrow is a better day.

    Also – i hate to say it but the talking nonstop never actually ends.

  11. OMG I have two exactly the same age as yours and know exactly what you mean. I force myself to get out to scheduled activities that I prepay a whole term of ahead of time so I feel too cheap to skip. I’ve lost count of the mber of times now that I’ve been sitting on the side of the pool / tearing my toddler off another toddler / trying to find a place to feed in amongst a group of people and had someone say, unprompted, “you too?”. They are out there, I promise you! All it takes is one connection that you look forward to once a week and it’s a lot less lonely. I promise. Best of luck…and if nothing else know that you have an online network who are hanging off every word you say! We are always here.

    In a completely non creepy way.


  12. Love your post, I used to live in Wellington and would have loved to met up as I’m third kid in, he is five weeks and I was just saying yesterday now that I’ve shifted to christchurch I don’t have my ante natal girls to call in and talk crap with, keep up with the posts

  13. I will join in a heart beat. Yet again you made my day by hitting the nail on the head 🙂

  14. I find your posts so refreshing and relatable! I’m a fellow mummy blogger and also have a two and a half year old, and an 8 week old newborn. Your not as alone as you might think! 🙂

  15. Hi, I’m a blogger at You’re wonderful. And I’d totally join your play group because this entire post is me all over! Keep on keeping on, mama.

  16. Hang in there, you’re doing great. Well done for verbalizing what so many feel. I find you only need to scratch the surface with other Mums to get the real story, warts and all 🙂 It’s the ‘prefect’ ones who are fooling themselves or have the most amazing family/friends support in place. Mine were the same age as yours, I’m just almost 2 years further down the line though and it gets a little easier 🙂 Be kind to yourself, hugs from thousands of miles away x

  17. Parenting is incredibly intense work, especially in those early years. And I’m sure we all ‘perform’ it a little, managing somehow to look good and sound good (on occasion, from time to time), when on the inside, I recall being a gibbering mess of Not.Doing.It.Right and Failing.To.Keep.Up.Appearances. Especially when the Plunket nurse calls in! (Or whichever service you’re working with. Also, for non-NZers, in the first few weeks we get free in-home health care visits, to check on mums and babies, and after the baby is a certain age, you start going to visit them, except if you have multiples, in which case the in-home visits go on until a year or so.)

    Another great post, Boganette.

  18. Spot on as always. Instead of parenting groups with mothers who seem much more together than I can hope for these days, I go to the park with my little boy. There are still cliques, but the fresh air seems to make everything different somehow. And older children seem to play more with my son than kids his own age. I totally get what you are saying. Hope you feel less lonely soon xx

  19. Hit the nail on the head.
    I’m on the exact same boat with a 19 month old and a 3 week old and my daily achievements are us all being dressed, fed at the appropriate times and have at least a ten minute slice of fresh air.
    Fuck the rest of the bullshit that requires making small talk with other mums… Especially when stringing a sentence together on 4 hours sleep is hard enough. But…… I agree, it is a VERY lonely existence

  20. Why don’t you invite/select one or two mothers to come to your own home with their children who can relate to similar experiences that you are having. The little ones can play while the mothers can talk. It has worked for me, no matter how painful motherhood it is, you are doing a brilliant job with your children, so well done! xxx

  21. Can we just be best friends already??? I’m so here… Breastfeeding and loneliness. Husband comes home from work and we make it to toddlers bedtime, I feed six wk old and try to stay awake so head to bed again alone only to be woken throughout the night. No catching up on sleep. No adult time. No alone time. Soon though soon I say there will be light at end of tunnel.

  22. It can be very isolating. I too am following the make-it-up-as-I-go-along-and-try-to-all-still-be-alive-at-the-end-of-the-day parenting approach. Sure I might often leave the house covered in sick, I’m always late and my kids will have chocolate or some other frowned upon, non organic junk down their clothes, but so far, we are all doing ok. And so are you.

  23. *Raises hand* I’ll join your group! My little ones are 4,3 & 9m, getting out and going places is a huge endeavor. Every moment is spent with a tiny person, but, like you, I get lonely a LOT. My husband works long hours everyday and he’s usually tapped out by the time he gets home. My incessant chatter about the kids and trying to plan things to do on the weekend is too much for the guy. I completely understand the isolation if breastfeeding and just being a constant caretaker without adult interaction and being on your phone or the computer more than the normal person just to have some interaction with the outside world. Too bad I’m in the US :/

  24. This is so refreshing to read, my daughter is 10 months, i follow the parenting style of if you get throught the day, then all is well! Being a mum is lonely sometimes, i find the mother meets tricky, i am new to scandinavia, so dont follow what is being said, so that ontop of tiredness is challenging. But it is so comforting to read this, mumma’s united in their loneliness, perhaps not so lonely after all ?

  25. Are you in my head?! I was nearly in tears to read my thoughts from someone else’s mind. It is lonely and no husband seems to get it. I am in for your mommy group….but I am going to be late and probably will bring a half eaten bag of Oreos since my homemade cookie attempt got interrupted by a little cute gremlin.

  26. I’d join your playgroup in a flash! Thank you for putting words to some of my thoughts xx

  27. I’m expecting my third in Sept and have 5 and 3 year old girls now…and some days I wonder where all the grown ups have gone. And I remember the loneliness I felt when nursing both my girls and the isolation of living in a city where all the moms are “perfect” all natural, organic, granola crunchers that have opinions on ABSOLUTELY everything…which make me feel even more isolated. Thank you…your writing always makes me feel more human….like I am not actually losing my mind…just a mom trying to get it right..but getting it wrong a lot of the time. THANK YOU! XX

  28. There’s got to be other mothers like you out there. Normal ones who’ll admit it’s hard and they’re not perfect. Fingers crossed that your search is short.

  29. Brill post!

    Is there such a thing as ‘survival parenting’ amongst all those attachment/Montessori/no cry/cry it out/detachment/steiner approaches?

    The ‘Survival’ approach is definitely how I’m doing it and I kind of feel sorry for the ones who think they’ve got it all together. They’re all bloody lying anyway! X

  30. I don’t know if this will make you feel any better or not, but I have been told that *I* make it look easy….LOLOLOL…ME? Yes me…I have NO clue what they are looking at as I could say just about everything you write with regularly forgetting key things, like diapers. Just because you think someone looks together doesn’t mean they are. It is what I call ballet syndrome.

    From the audience, ballets look effortless. On stage its hard, breathless, sweaty & sometimes painful. And those toes shoes sound like a heard of elephants without music to drown it out. 😉

    I think you notice more than anyone how hard you are working….if others could see it we wouldn’t get ourselves knocked up….lol

    And yes, leaving the house with everyone dressed nice often feels to me like a marathon and I am exhausted before we even arrive. I looked into Montessori, etc but I guess I cared so little about what I found on info I couldn’t tell you now with any accuracy. My oldest is 8…so it’s been a while. I looked into it then, opted to home school & these days I just try not to resemble to angry cruel nuns that taught me….lololololol (not sure why that is funny to me – I really do try 🙂 but man I understand those nuns now…but it still makes me laugh)

  31. Being a stay home mother, especially of very small children, can be quite isolating and also discombobulating. All the things that have our lives structure and routine disappear and instead it’s chaos and responding on demand. And the sleep deprivation. And no longer having ownership of your body.

    I very much identify with the trepidation of going along to parent and child groups. I resisted until I could take being a hermit no more. We moved to a rural village where we knew no one when I was pregnant with my oldest. I felt the isolation keenly. So I forced myself to go along to groups just to hear other adult voices before my husband got home from work. A lot of the chat was inane or was on subjects I didn’t follow (I don’t watch enough TV it seems) but just some human contact that didn’t involve nipples or faeces was worth it. And when I moved onto preschooler groups, I actually met some people who became my very good friends.

    Then I moved to another continent and it started over again. Once more I was a stay home mother in an area where I knew not a soul and – especially with a husband who works long hours and is often out of state – I was back to long stretches of no adult contact once more. Only this time my kids were in school and preschool so no parent and child groups to offer the possibility of chatter. I spent a lot of time, when I first moved to America, just talking to random people in the library just to have any sort of conversation. Desperate. I’ve made precisely one friend since moving here so I still go days with no adult conversation at all if my husband is away but actually I’ve learned to enjoy the silence and appreciate my own company again. But, of course, that only works because I’m no longer trapped at home with www kids.

    PS My brother-in-law went to a Steiner school in England so I spent time there observing how it all worked. I still have no clue.

  32. I can totally relate. I’m literally just bluffing my way through the parenting gig.. but I bluffed my way through a poker tournament once and it paid off, so I’m hoping for the best. Thank you for saying what most of us are thinking!

  33. My wife and I had a role reversal in our marriage when I got hurt at work. A broken neck left me at home with the kids while she went out into the workforce. Before that, I never understood why she’d complain about being lonely and I had no idea what she did all day.

    Two years later, I went back to work. Not because we needed the money but because I was losing my mind having no adult interactions. I have the highest respect for stay at home parents because I know how hard it is and I know I failed miserably at it.

  34. A little secret… I have been told that I am one of those parents who always has it all together… What a load of rubbish – clearly they’ve never noticed the days when I have kinda not known what day it is and so not brought any food (and so she’s eaten shopbought sandwiches and 4 cakes as you can’t by a smaller pack from the petrol station) or the days where I have had to spray myself with febreeze! When DD was smaller and occasionally napped I had a clearer idea of my parenting philosophy but now I have a choice between cleaning the kitchen (not frequently) or reading a book (falling asleep watching TV). So a parent who has it altogether is usually one who is faking it because to say how hard it is feels like a failure because I already feel rubbish about the fact she has no father.

  35. I’m reading this as my angry little platypus attacks me for a feed! You’re spot on with everything that you say. It’s exhausting and lonely and scary. I yearn (in no particular order) for a visit to the loo in peace, sleep, a meal where everyone eats what they’re given, sleep, a meal that I get to eat while it’s still hot, sleep, a husband who notices when something needs doing rather than waiting for me to start nagging and, did I mention it before, sleep.

  36. I have battled depression along with being new to this whole motherhood thing. It’s hard. I think worst part is always feeling like it’s just me. Everyone is so smiley and shit. I try hard to be. My daughter is wonderful really. Always slept through the night, quiet, and listens very well. Other mothers always tell me how lucky I am but I was honestly dealt with what I could handle. Any other kid, I would have crawled into a hole and refused to come out. I also think every mother struggles with being “put together”. You can’t tell me about one good mom who hasn’t found a puddle of piss on the floor and wondered if it was the dog or Hudini the toddler. Especially in the early months of a newborn’s life, every mother is a mess. Just do your best. Only you are your worst critic. You got this!

  37. I am only 4 weeks into this parenting gig & have never felt so isolated in my life. Thank you for not pretending it’s easy. So many other mums who say “oh you should get Bub into a routine” & other such bull twang makes me feel like a giant dweeb. Thanks for making me feel less alone (as I breastfeed my newborn) 🙂

  38. I remember those days- not fondly- and all I can say is, someday in the (what feels like insanely distant) future, you will be able to remember to have a cup of coffee for yourself.

    I followed a different philosphy- mine was- i WILL screw up today- please let it be a different one from yesterday!!!!

    It actually helped me to admit I wasn’t going to be a perfect parent, and that I would make mistakes. Now some mistakes were doozies that I would love to forget but somehow they stick out the most in my mind (like asking my Deaf son if he was Deaf when he wouldn’t listen about bedtiome *sigh*)

    Other ones, like handing them each a few fruit roll ups for breakfast because we all slept in….aren’t as clear as they used to be.

    You will make mistakes- we all do, and despite us our kids survive.

    As for the loneliness- it’s brutal at times, and the only thing that helped me was to call friends on the phone while I was taking that 30 seconds for me while I was throwing laundry in (Yes I considered that “ME” time for years). Even a friend who lived 2 doors away, sometimes we would go more than a week seeing each other in person because the kids were always doing, needing,wanting, etc. etc etc

    My saving grace was that my husband worked seasonal (logging) so for 3 months a year I got to talk to grown ups because I went to work – while he stayed home with the kids. I felt like I was getting 3 months off!!!

  39. I used to run a playgroup sort of thing at my house called ‘Box of Beer Mother’s Group’. Calling it that meant it put off any overly earnest competitive type ladies and also meant we all took turns buying the box of beers. Beer in the sun while children run about or feed or whatever was really dreamy. Sometimes we couldn’t tear ourselves away from the group and ended up getting fish n chips from down the road to top it off. DREAMY.

  40. Hi, me again, such a fan. I read your lovely words while patting and singing to my 8 month old for unceasingly long to get him to sleep (reading to thwart my cool from being lost through totally obfuscating, irrational impatience) while my just three year old runs in and out trying to be quiet but really not understanding what that means.

    The best description of mother that I know of is Lisa, from Ponyo, so I went looking on the Internet to see if persons have written articles about this wonder of honest depiction, and found accusations of neglect, driving too fast blah blah. She’s the best. Only just getting by, and marvellous.

    I live in Berhampore. Is that terribly far away from you?

    • Auto correct helpfully put in unceasingly rather than increasingly.

    • Berhampore is close to me! Our kids are close in age too. Might have to have a play date 🙂

      • Cool! we’re good for play dates on mon, tue, thur – littlest naps 10.30-12ish so my house is best then but can get around rest of the time usually.

        Ps. Both boys vaccinations up to date.

  41. My babies are big now, but highly recommend the music group at ib presby church on Friday morns. I’ve never felt judged there, and the teacher, while intense, is like magic to the kids. My kids loveddd going there, even number two who sat on my lap, didn’t participate or sing or even move and buried himself into me when getting any attention at all on him (yeah he’s weird) but loved to go see “my Anne” on Fridays. Just a thought!