Parenting

The Paradox of the Lonely Mother

The Paradox of the Lonely Mother

After becoming a mother you're rarely alone. My son's favorite place has always been pressed against me at all times.

(I'm not sure how dads get a free solo pass to the bathroom but there has to be some mystery left in the universe.)

Yet, at the same time, motherhood can be extremely isolating.

We no longer live in village communities where extended multi-generational families care for each other. I'm not romanticizing this idea, but as someone whose immediate family lives thousands of miles away, there is a certain appeal.

We feel pressure to bounce back, whether it's into our pre-baby jeans, fitness routine, work schedule, or other obligations.

Yet we have no idea how motherhood will change us. No matter when (or if) we fit back into those jeans, a different person is putting them on. Our lives revolve around different needs and priorities, few of which are our own.

I have over 1,000 friends on Facebook, yet do I really know what's going on in their lives? I talked to a friend recently on Skype and said, "I know all about your kids' sleep schedules, but how are YOU?"

I love all the connections I have on social media to share experiences, yet how deep do those connections go? And what experiences do we actually share?

I'm guilty of this myself.

Every night I post three "daily positives" on my Facebook wall. They range from moments of gratitude to fun things we did or silver linings I experienced that day. Some days I truly have to dig deep.

Those posts are for ME.

But when other people look at them, they may think everything over here is sunshine and roses all the time.

I don't post about the breakfast my son threw on the floor that I had to clean up, or the potty accident he had, or how he ran out the back door naked while I was trying to clean up the afore(not)mentioned messes. I don't want to dwell on those moments in my own life.

I don't want to constantly read about those moments from others, either, to be honest.

Like I mentioned to a friend, people don't get dogs so they can pick up poop, but that's also part of the deal.

But I know that my posts play into the idea that everything is going well all the time. And that's not true.

Parenting Secret: None of us really have our shit together.

After this topic came up multiple times in a week, I organized my first mama circle here in San Diego. I have never led anything like this before and wanted to make sure it worked like I thought it would. It ended with everyone in tears and a group hug. It was amazing.

The most voiced comment? "I thought I was the only one."

You're not the only one.

It's hard to be vulnerable at all, let alone when we're chasing our kids at the park or trying to stop our toddlers from eating food they found on the ground or changing a diaper. It's hard to maintain a complete train of thought when we're parenting, let alone finish a sentence - or truly listen to one. It's hard to truly connect.

Humans are social animals. Even introverts need to be heard and understood.

Mothers Circle is held the second Friday of the month in San Diego. To hear about upcoming circles, or upcoming training to hold your own circles, get updates by email.

The Biggest Secret of Parenting

Before my son was born I read a lot more about birth than parenting. Considering that information only covered about 12 hours from my first contraction, I had a lot of catch up to do once he arrived.

And wow, the learning curve felt steep. When he was around 10 months old I finally read this article about features of a high needs baby. My son met 11 of the 12 criteria.

I just thought all babies were like that because he was the only one I had.

Other moms' mentioned their high-needs babies and I thought about how terrible that sounded - my son wouldn't sleep longer than 37 minutes, had to be constantly held, and went from 0-to-hysterical in 3 seconds flat. And they had it worse?

Apparently not. Whew.

(Looking back I have no idea how I survived those first two years with my sanity relatively intact, though that's up for debate.)

Entering my third trimester of pregnancy with my second child I vacillate between peace and panic. On one hand, at least I have some idea of what to expect.

On the other hand, I have some idea of what to expect -- plus a 3-year-old. Hold me.

Parenting Secret: None of us have ANY IDEA what we are doing

With my first I felt intense pressure to "do it right." I wanted to read all the books and articles and expert opinions.

Then I learned that anyone who tells you there is one way to do anything is selling you their book.

Do I give weight in to experienced professionals say and what studies can show us? Yes. But the most important thing is doing what works for me and my family. I am the expert at my children.

So I'll stock up on strategies for smooth transitions for siblings, but this time I will have fewer expectations of myself. Because I don't know much about THIS baby yet.

In a class with Pam England (author of Birthing From Within) she explained her philosophy of "B+ Parenting."

She said that none of us can ever be a perfect parent. When we think we can, we set ourselves up for failure. Instead, she says, aim to be a B+ parent. Better than average, but without the pressure of never screwing anything up.

We will inevitably screw up.

That's what parenting is about. It's picking our battles and trying not to screw up too bad while loving the crap out of these little imperfect humans. We're learning along with them.

You're doing the best you can with what you have available at the moment. That's enough.

You're enough.


Not feeling like it lately? Motherhood can be an overwhelming hamster wheel of laundry and trying to remember what else you need to do.

If you're feeling stuck and don't even know where to start, you're not alone. If you need a hand to make the leap, I'd love to offer mine.

CLICK HERE to book a FREE Save Your Sanity Session

Want to stay in the loop?

Let's be honest - you'll forget to check back. Because mom brain is real.

Baby-Led Weaning

If your baby is at or nearing the time to eat solid foods, you may be confused about the right approach.

  • Should you start at 4 months or 6 months?
  • With rice cereal or whole foods?
  • Purees or finger foods?

Your pediatrician may not be giving you updated advice. Learn what the current recommendations are and what you may want to consider in choosing the right path for you and your baby.

Check out a concise and info-packed 30-minute summary, or find the resources for the talk below the video.

When should I start solids?

How should I give my baby solids?

What should I feed my baby?

Other resources

Want more info?

Intro to Baby Led Weaning, Wednesday, March 23

If you want more details and time for live Q&A, join me on March 23rd from the comfort of your own home!

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