It is crazy how lonely we can feel without ever truly being alone.
My baby girl had been attached to some part of me for what felt like every moment for the past 60 days, our house was full of well wishers, family and friends, our fridge completely stocked due to people’s generosity and meal trains, but I had not been by myself, truly, since before she was born. Somehow, surrounded by people, I was lonely. So lonely.
My best day of motherhood happened on a whim. My friend Delaine showed up at my house super early (she’s the kind of friend that will just show up and bake you cookies if you need them, stock your fridge with staples and put fresh flowers in a jar on your counter, just because). Our husbands were helping someone put floors down through their whole house so we assumed it would take a while.
We didn’t really have any plans, but just figured we would spend the day together and see what happened. And nothing major really did: Spoiler alert! We spent all day together with our babes, took walks, played with sensory bins, napped in pack n’ plays stuffed in closets… But somehow, as I curled up under the sheets that night, I told my husband that had been my best day of motherhood yet.
And I realized – I need people. Desperately.
The first few months of motherhood had felt like a fog to me. As the smoke settled and routines fell into place, I missed my old routine of seeing other humans outside of the house, whether at work or the grocery store, a friendly lunch date or girls’ night. It just seemed so overwhelming to tote my new human with me everywhere I wanted to go.
The two of us had so many more needs than the singular “me” had previously carried. With nursing every couple hours and the many accouterments that I felt had to be packed in order to venture from the house; the inevitable possibility that a nap would be skipped and tears would be shed (by me or her, depending on the day) was just enough to make me think life was just easier if we stayed at home and trucked along. Alone.
I got up the courage (or desperation) one day to make the ever alluring Target run. Baby girl napped a little shorter than usual, so we packed up our clown car of baby accessories for the 45 minute round trip and headed to the Promised Land. Strapping her safely in her car seat, I transferred the tote to the snap-in stroller and set out to roam the aisles, freedom breezing through my veins and a sun-kissed glint of joy beaming off my optimistic, smiling face.
But it wasn’t more than five minutes into the frozen meats aisle before I was cursing the very thought of this outing, as well as every onlooker who shot me the pity gaze but kept strolling on. With one ear to my phone and my mother hearing through the cell waves what must have been defcon 1 of a newborn’s cries, I swept up my tear-filled, screaming girl into my arms, flipped her on her stomach and began the thigh burning, bouncing-soothing rendition of “Drop it Low, Girl” I had come to know and love.
Right there, in front of the Pizza Rolls, with cart and stroller and groceries and shattered hopes, I hung up on my mother. I had no answer for why baby girl was crying, how to make her stop, or overall “what went wrong” with my best laid plans. I just knew I didn’t want to do it again.
So I swore it would just be easier to lay low, not make plans, and weather the rest of our “little person” days hunkered in our house, all controls in place.
Boy, was I wrong.
And Delaine showed me that day. Life has always been messy, it’s just that I have previously been far more deceived at my level of control. Having kids exposed all of the paper houses in my life for what they really were – paper houses. And staying away from people or fun for fear of how difficult the “togetherness” might end up being was simply my way of trying to regain a little bit of control. We all suffered for it, though.
I know everybody is in a different season, and we all have differing needs regarding amount of time spent with people, introversion, deep conversation, and want to be playful. But regardless of our make up, we are all messy, and we all need each other. And life wasn’t meant to be lived alone, siloed out to responsibility and daily grinds.
Maybe Target isn’t always the best place to get our needs met, but doing this whole “mom thing” in the presence of others is far more rewarding than it is all by your lonesome.
So be like my friend Delaine. Initiate with a friend and show up at their house ready to just be. Don’t be afraid for your messy to rub off on somebody else – because, guess what? They’re messy too! We’ve all heard the battle cry, “Don’t mom alone!”