Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lonely Motherhood

LONELY!  We are surrounded by children, people at the store, social media, BUT yet we are lonely.  I have gone through periods of loneliness.  As a pastor's wife, I am constantly surrounded by people, BUT YET, I have felt very friendless at times. This article hits the nail on the head.  I won't steal the thunder from Finding Joy but I do have some final comments at the bottom.

I feel so alone.
Would you write a letter to the lonely mom?
I get email after email after message after message after tweet after comment and all again asking me to write about the lonely mom. Yes, the lonely mom. The mom, like you, or me, or the mom at Target who has actually mastered pushing the jumbo cart that needs blinkers and two weeks of training and yet, still feels alone. The lonely mom in a world of crazy social media connectivity.
We have facebook, pinterest, twitter, email, phones with us at all the time and yet, sometimes, I think we as mothers feel more alone than ever when hypothetically, we should be connected more than ever. We share status updates and like things. We add friends. We love instagrams and favorite tweets. We send texts with cute little heart emoticons and messages with clever quotes. We share our pictures, videos, and sometimes our hopes for the week. We update our lives and check in at places and take pictures of us smiling in a crowd.
Yet, so often, we feel alone.
Watching a world of information, perfection, could do’s, should have done’s, never-ending projects, vacations, expectations, fabulous dinners, cute homes, clever kids, and scrapbooks of life scrolling by.
Truth? I think the reason so many of us feel so alone it is that so much time is spent labeling and unintentionally competing and thus less time is spent embracing each other for who we are. And that categorizing of motherhood just might come with the crazy flood of information that we’re presented with every single day.
But, listen. At the core, we’re still all mothers.
Mothers who wake up often tired. Mothers with dreams. Mothers wondering if they’re going to make it through the morning and toddlerhood. Mothers working several jobs and praying that the food stretches the week. Mothers with one child. Mothers with many children. Mothers who are worn out. Mothers who are content. Mothers who are married. Mothers who are single. Mothers who don’t care what anyone else is doing. Mothers with kids that sit still. Mothers with kids throwing tantrums at the check-out lane in Target. We’re all mothers painting different canvases of motherhood. Making choices best for our families. Loving our kids. Working hard. Giving of ourselves.
What if this constant stream of highlights contributes to the culture of loneliness that mothers feel? What if it’s a disconnect between really getting to know someone versus only getting to know someone by the information that they share? There is a deeper level of intimacy with really getting to know the mom at preschool and sitting in the Starbucks that she instagrams all the time (haha…like me) versus simply looking at her instagram picture with the artsy looking caramel macchiato cup with the Starbucks logo turned just perfectly and her toddler who sat still for the eleven seconds it took her to take the picture.
When one gets to know someone more they see the mom ordering the macchiato and dealing with the toddler and hearing her share her story and seeing tears sometimes well in the corner of her eyes as she talks about being overwhelmed with the toddler who sat still only for the eleven seconds it took to take the instagram.
The frenzy of social can add layers of should have’s, could have’s, why didn’t I do that’s, and other unneeded expectations on our lives. It’s fabulous to share, to be social, but in that sharing and reading other’s lives we also need to remember that it’s only a snapshot of the entire canvas, the entire story, of another person.
Do you know what matters at the deep core level? It’s the bond of motherhood. It’s the bond of being brave even when sometimes we’re scared out of our minds and don’t know what to do with those kids that we love unconditionally. It’s the connection of giving of self – losing sleep, counting to ten, praying for peace, driving here and there, teaching them how to thrive as adults – while we live our lives as mother day by day teaching them, those kids, the skills and the courage to leave our homes.
We’re not raising kids to make ourselves look like super moms.
We are instead blessed with the awesome responsibility of teaching and training and loving and guiding the kids who we love to be adults. And that’s motherhood.
If we as women, as mothers recognize the potential for loneliness in what appears to be a very socially connected world, then we have a responsibility. Not to try to keep up with everything that we think would make us be a perfect mother but rather the responsibility to be real, to reach out to the other moms, to open our doors into our lives and not worry that everything isn’t exactly right or that we have different opinions on parenting topics but to rather embrace each other simply for who we are as mothers.
Motherhood isn’t meant to be journeyed alone.
Let’s celebrate real. Let’s celebrate our differences and the fact that we can learn from others.
Let’s connect motherhood. One phone call. One five extra minutes spent talking in the doorway. One trip to Starbucks. One message telling a friend how much they matter to you and how grateful you are to have them as a friend. Let’s create a community, a culture of women that decides to strip away the layers of unneeded defining expectations of motherhood and let’s instead start to celebrate the little things in life. The moments of bravery and teaching and brushing off the dust and trying again. The times spent together learning about others.
It’s about real heart connections. And being okay with not having the perfect life but instead opening up your life, your home, your heart to another. So to you, all the moms that have emailed me telling me you feel so very alone in this world of motherhood, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many moms feeling this way. You and I and the next mom and the mom on facebook and on my finding joy facebook page we all can work to change that loneliness. Let’s be real. Let’s linger a bit more, sit with coffee, and not worry about measuring up but rather invest in each other’s lives.
Motherhood is beautiful. And motherhood is a journey meant to be shared.
So today, today I challenge you to do one thing to connect with another mom. One thing. A phone call. A smile at Starbucks (do you feel a theme with me and Starbucks?). Meeting at the park. Open your life.
Lonely motherhood connected. #littlethingsmatter

After reading this article, I would encourage you lonely moms:
1. Have personal relationships, not social media relationships.  Have a mom over to your house or meet at the park.  Don't just stay within your age limit.  Get to know mom's that are older and younger then you.  A mom that has teenagers, may need a baby fix and you might need her wisdom. 

2. To have friends, you must be a friend. When we moved to FL. I was extremely depressed and lonely.  We had just married, but we had moved to my husband's, hometown, his church, his family, his life.  He knew people and I was just waiting for someone to friend me.  Finally, one day, Jer said "Joy, to have friends you have to be a friend. Invite people over to our house."  So we started inviting families over for dinner, once a week.  Remember, someone, has to take the first step. You can be that one and have a friend for a lifetime.

3. You have a God-Sized Hole that only God can fill.  You may have all the friends in the world and STILL feel lonely.  If you don't have a personal relationship with God, you will always feel empty. We were created to be His friend and only He can satisfy the needs of our heart. 

I hope this helps. Reach out and up - Rejoicing in the Present

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