If you are a new mom, a mom of small children or just in a new phase of life, odds are you are not unfamiliar with the feeling of loneliness.
Everyone always recites that cliché saying “your whole life changes when you become a mom” right? You hear it, and it passes in one ear and out the next. Honestly though, your life changes in ways you totally did NOT see coming. I could write a bazillion, yes I said bazillion, posts about the ways your life changes after being a mom from postpartum bodies, sleep deprivation, to succumbing to a messy house. But what I’m wanting to write about is how you mentally change. Yes, there is postpartum depression and that’s a very real thing that so many women have to deal with, but there are plenty of women who are undiagnosed (and may or may not have ppd) and struggle with LONELINESS.
The loneliness you start to feel creep in is subtle, but its real. Here you are a new mom, you’re adjusting to a whole range of things like how to keep this child alive, how to function on 3 hours of sleep, how to adapt to your changing body, how to breastfeed, how to formula feed if breastfeeding didn’t work out, how to not guilt yourself, its ENDLESS. At the end of the day, I’m sure you are left feeling lonely and like no one else is struggling like you and you’re the only one that understands you in these moments. You probably feel like other moms have this all figured out and they’re just coasting through life with their bffs and loving life. This was one of the lies I let my self believe for too long.
I wanted to be a young mom, to basically do the opposite of my parents (who were older than most parents) and start a family young. When I did though, I of course knew I changed my life, but the change I didn’t see coming was in my friendships. I was the first of my “friends” to get married, first to have kids, and because of those things I was just in a different phase of life than anyone else. That alone separates you and puts you in a different category than your friends. I felt myself not connecting the way I used to, and it just made me feel lonely. I got in my head and questioned if I had made a mistake wanting to make these big life choices earlier than people I knew. I was left feeling empty, lonely, and just sad a lot of the time. Those feelings weighed on me, like a weight on my shoulders I carried around with all of the other things I was juggling at the time… like being a mom and a wife.
So for about 4 years I didn’t really connect with women like I wanted to. I felt different, I didn’t feel like I had any real friends, and I was just bound to my house as a slave to the nap schedule of my child. When we had our second child, our lives had to adjust to the new addition and when he was close to one, someone mentioned to me casually that I should attend a MOPS group. I responded to.. um what the heck is that?!
MOPS stands for Mothers Of Preschoolers. Typically MOPS groups are ran through churches across the nation, but I (at the time) was not a person who had been to church. I did not grow up attending church, and the idea was pretty foreign to me. But, I was feeling lonely, and I thought, there was some promise in the idea that moms met 2 times a month, who were just like me in this unique phase of life with small people to chase after day in and day out. A few months earlier, I had started my first online bible study through some ladies in a direct sales company I worked for at the time, and felt I was semi- prepared to enter into a church environment because I had been doing that for a few weeks. So I asked around on facebook who attended a “MOPS” group, and I did get a couple responses and looked one of them up and went to their park play date sign up. I hesitantly walked up to a table with a big sign and signed myself up for “MOPS” and whatever that was.
I have been apart of MOPS for 5 years now, and unless we have another baby, then this will be my last year. Truthfully, I wish I would have known about it SOONER! That first year, I was a new-ish mom and didn’t have any connections or friendships, I struggled with loneliness, and I became SO connected and had life breathed back into me!
I sat at an amazing table of 7 other women and one mentor mom, who happened to be the head of women’s ministry at that church. It was a life changing year. It sounds so corny, but just going to those meetings, and listening to the speakers, the videos, and other moms at my table and not at my table revitalized me. Suddenly, I was not some leper cast away on an island to live alone, but I was JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Other moms struggled with not feeling like they are enough, and feeling like they were one timeout away from losing their minds.
That year I made lasting friendships, and to this day, 5 years later I still call most of them great friends. Several of them have “aged out” of MOPS and their kids aren’t in the 0-5 year range, but I still text and connect with them on a pretty regular basis. Each year I met amazing women and it truly opened up a door for me to see that I am not alone.
If you are feeling at all like how I felt, and this is how you are hearing about MOPS, you should look on their website and connect with a local chapter and GO! You can look for a group here. Nothing is holding you back but yourself and your fear. If I hadn’t walked up to that table at that park play date and let fear paralyze me then I wouldn’t have made any of the friendships or connections that I have over these last few years and my life would be SO different. No one can support you, or understand you like a fellow mom. Don’t let yourself live isolate and feeling lonely.
We are meant to live in connection with each other and not apart from each other.
With this most likely being my last year at MOPS, and with it being the beginning of the year, it got me thinking about my time there and left me with the feeling that I needed to write about MOPS. Maybe there is a mom who will read this who is feeling just like I felt.
This year’s theme for MOPS is called “FIND YOUR FIRE”, and its so fitting. Most of us let our fires go out when we become moms because we have to do so many new things and we lose ourselves. Don’t let yourself make that mistake, because our fires were not meant to be extinguished.
“Never let your fire go out. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with God’s people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes.” Romans 12:11-1 NIV