By Liz Vartanian
“Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself” ~ Rupi Kaur
Truth be told, I always wanted to be the stay at home wife. I imagined my days to be filled with learning and adventures of a different kind. Learning how to make pasta, perfect the art of fermented foods, dive deeper into yoga, and maybe have a baby or two. In my late 20’s/early 30’s, I thought it would be grand to build our garden to grow more of our own food, then learn the art of canning and make my own baby food. In my mind, I could do all of this and more.
Now, years later, I look at the dreams of a childless woman and wonder how I thought I would get to “do it all”. To have the clean home, cook all the most nutritious meals (and have my child eat them!), to keep an amazing garden, spend my days socializing with all my mama friends while our babes play, to have time for my yoga practice or any other cup filling practice I may desire. All these things have one thing in common though, they all require time. Clean houses, raising babies, gardening, cooking, yoga, socializing, or cup filling all require some time from the 24 hours we get each day. Each require daily payments of our time.
When my first son was born, it was a shock to experience how much time a baby required. All they do is eat, sleep, and poop, I figured that I could easily fit some yoga and a few coffee/lunch dates through out the week. My son had other ideas. He liked to nurse every two hours, which I had no problem doing out in public or anywhere really, but for me, the problem was immediately afterward I was thirsty and exhausted. If I didn’t go to sleep when he did, often times I would miss out on the rest I needed and wasn’t getting at night. At night, when I needed to stay awake, I often found myself scrolling through social media to gain connection with friends and the world. Even with the few coffee dates or lunch meet ups, I still felt trapped at home a lot. All our family lives out of state and even though they came to visit for week long stretches, that is not enough support for a new mama. Also, being up half the night and “scrolling” left me feeling more lonely.
You know all those articles that tell you people are socializing less in person and more online? Or that humans are now addicted to their phones?
As a new mama, social media and a smart phone feel like a life line. Like a link to the world outside that we are now missing. Do not get me wrong, I wanted to cocoon with my baby boy, but I also longed for the connection of other mamas. I longed for a tribe of people to come say “hey mama, you are not alone.” Also, I longed for the connection to myself, to know what changes motherhood would bring me, and who this new person would be (both my boy and myself). Fast forward three years later and add the birth of my second, the anxiety and loneliness feels almost normal. We are women becoming mothers without the support babies require. “It takes a village” is not just a saying, but could be an actual fact.
Modern day motherhood is a strange balance of perfection and not giving a fuck. In the same breath we are told that we can’t have it all (pick two: clean house, happy kids, self care) and yet, we are bombarded with how to raise these little humans in a world that feels like it is about to implode on itself. Modern mamas are given more advice on how to raise this generation by strangers than any other group of people on the planet. Would you tell a stranger in line at the grocery store that they shouldn’t get all that meat? That meat is causing our eco-system to collapse and that really they should look into a more plant-based diet? Probably not, but a mother is often told what she should feed her child and how to raise them and what type of school they should go to from people who don’t have kids or would be grandparents all the time. From social media perfection and advice from strangers, the rabbit hole of motherhood can make even the strongest woman feel alone at best or like they are fucking up their children at worst. All this and no consideration for mama. Mama, don’t be sad though. We all are messing up. Knowing that you are just shows that you care and you want to do better.
Postpartum depression is a big deal and should be dealt with a professional, but loneliness is like being that kid on the playground who nobody wants to play with, the kid just kicking their shoes at the dirt. So if motherhood is so lonely, how do we fix it? How do we fix a problem that only mamas see and feel? I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you that asking for help or telling others how you feel is a great start.
- Make a standing coffee date with your BFF. If they are far away, make it a Skype date, technology isn’t always bad and seeing her face and hearing her voice will make a big difference.
- Take your baby out for a walk. Even if the walk is short and just around your neighborhood. Get outside and meet your neighbors or look up at the sky. Sometimes getting perspective or fresh air can make you feel whole.
- Get a sitter and go connect with your peeps. Sitters may be hard to find, but some one you trust with your heart living outside of your body is key. Then go take a yoga class, have a date with your partner, sign up for an art class/rocking climbing/or dive into your secret dream of being an accountant. Just go connect with people who have the same interest as you. Or take some time to get to know yourself, becoming your own best friend again.
- Yes, social media can be a great way to connect when you are nursing a sick baby and it is 3am, but if you find yourself wasting an hour looking at “perfect mom’s” on Instagram, it is time to step away. Like the saying goes, everything works better after you unplug it. Even you.
In the world today, many have moved away from our family homes, have put pressures on ourselves to do it all, or stuff down the feelings by often calling it hormones. Modern women are embracing all this in the brave new world of motherhood. Looking back, I was naïve to think that being a stay at home mom would be so easy and that I would have all the time in the world to garden, cook, and self discovery. All in due time as mamas tell me, babies grow up. The years are short but, the days are long.
Liz Vartanian is a yoga teacher, writer and mama in Austin, TX. Her carefully crafted classes include a loving blend of restorative and yin yoga, myofascial release, along with space to come “home” to your body. The soft surrender of restorative offer yogis a chance to leave class feeling energized and supported. Liz’s classes feel like a community and students are often surprised with home cooked goodies after long relaxing Savasanas. Her training with viniyoga teachers during her 200-hr has offered her a chance to lead yoga practices with authenticity and heart but, from a place of safety and knowledge. Liz’s playful attitude keeps her class fun, challenging, and always full of laughter! Liz is a writer whose work was recently featured in OM Yoga Magazine. The delicate balance she strikes as a yoga teacher and mom was highlighted in Origin Magazine. She is an avid stand up paddle boarder and Instagram video maker. When not teaching yoga, Liz can be found with her family where there is coffee, good friends, toy trucks and a body of water!