It's odd how lonely motherhood can be.
You know, since we are never, never, ever alone.
But it isn't being alone that makes us lonely; it's feeling alone that does it. It's the thought that all we do is wash the same laundry, and discipline the same disobedience, and wipe up the same spills. Over and over again, all by ourselves.
And it's hard. Today is not forever, but today is still hard.
Our husband goes to his job...then his second job...sometimes even a third, and we are the ones left to deal with every tantrum and trauma.
Maybe Daddy goes out of town for a business trip, or is deployed, or has never been around, or is asleep while we get up for the eighteenth time in the middle of the night. And we are the ones who are there to do it all, all the time.
We feel so very alone because, in many ways, we are.
My husband has always managed restaurants, so he works a whole lot of odd hours. He doesn't have the same days off as other husbands do, and he is rarely home for dinner.
His schedule was even worse when our kids were little. He would leave for work a few minutes after lunch each day and come home in the wee hours of the morning. I did nearly every dinner, bath, and bedtime all by myself.
I know. The loneliness of motherhood can be overwhelming.
I know that sometimes it's just too much.
The feelings of exhaustion mix with the realities of life with needy children, and we can easily slip into despair. Even though my kids are older, I'm still the one who deals with most of the drama, and driving, and discipline myself. Just like the long days of toddlerhood can seem never ending, so can the long days of teenagehood (new word?).
And I regularly lock myself in my room to cry. In case you were wondering.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
But after I'm done with my pity party, I usually do what I should have done all along: I turn to the Great Comforter, the one who knew the worst kind of loneliness.
God is the only One who promises to never leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5). In the dark of night and through the long, weary days, God is there (Psalm 139:1-12). His steadfast love never ceases; His mercies never come to an end (Lamentations 3:22-25).
Something happens in our hearts when we can cry out like the writer of Psalm 73:25-26 that "there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you" and that "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Then, once the truth of God's Word begins to soften my jaded heart, I can see clearly enough to change my tears into joy. I can begin to praise God for the very trials that nearly broke me.
I thank God for the food we put on that pile of dirty dishes.
I thank Him that I get to teach my little one I love her, even when she is grumpy and disagreeable.
I praise the Lord for the opportunity to love my husband by washing his dirty laundry.
You get the picture.
It's hard to complain about something that I just thanked God for.
Take practical steps.
The lonely heart needs corrected and comforted by truth that can only come through prayer and the Word of God, but there are practical things we can do, especially when the kiddos are young, to keep some of the loneliness at bay.
~Have a basic routine- Even if you aren't a "schedule person," having a basic routine will keep the days moving. It can be as simple as always reading stories after breakfast and giving naps right after lunch. It's encouraging to know that nap time and bedtime will eventually roll around.
~Put the kids to bed early- My kids always went to bed very, very early. As a matter of fact, they still joke about going to bed while it was bright light outside. Sorry, children, you'll understand when you have kids of your own.
~Get out of the house- Take a walk. Go to the grocery store. Play in the backyard. Breathe air outside of your own four walls. It helps.
~Visit with a friend- It's always encouraging to fellowship with others. It helps to know that your friend's son still wets the bed, her little girl whines just like yours does, and her laundry hasn't been folded in a week either. Guard yourselves against complaining, but take joy that you're not the only one walking this road.
~Clean or organize something- Do something, anything, every day. If it's hard to find the energy to lift a finger around the house, try setting a timer for just fifteen minutes. Usually, doing just a little bit gives the momentum necessary to keep plugging along. You may even want to take my hour a day challenge. Being productive really does lift the spirit.
~Find a project or hobby- Paint the bathroom. Sew some curtains. Make jewelry. Do whatever floats your boat. It's nice to have a hobby to occupy your mind and give a creative outlet.
~Create things to look forward to- If hubby doesn't get home from work until late, then plan to watch a chick-flick in the evening. Start a novel that you pull out during the baby's afternoon nap. Plan on enjoying your favorite blogs, connecting with friends on Facebook, or getting in some exercise during your alone time. Having something enjoyable to look forward to makes the time when your husband is away from home much more bearable.
~Plan special surprises for your husband- Looking beyond ourselves is a great way to battle self-pity and resentment. Plan a fancy snack for when your husband rolls in late. Rent that action move he's wanted to see, take out the trash so he doesn't have to, help the children make construction paper cards. Making your husband feel loved usually circles right back around to fill up your own heart.
Do you battle the loneliness of motherhood? Have any tips or encouragement to share?
Leave a reply »