Motherhood is the most rewarding job I've ever had. It's also the loneliest, and one that forces my introvert spirit to exit its comfort zone over and over again.
Motherhood came to me after the bumpiest of roads. Infertility for over a decade, failed adoptions and IVF procedures left me with the scars that may never fade. I buried my first son and had my third son torn from my body after his heart no longer beat.
My living son is the breath I breathe, and I spend every day working to make his life the best it can be. I do this with gratitude, knowing the privilege to do so is not granted to everyone who so desperately wants it.
We live an amazing life and get to do amazing things. We are very lucky.
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But I am lonely. Most often? I'm lonely in a roomful of moms.
Because mothering came so much later in life for me, I am often the oldest mother in the room. Heck, there are many times I could be the grandmother of my son's peers. In a roomful of 20/30-something moms, I am the one looking 50 pretty close in the face, in both mind and body. I waver between feeling motherly to my mom 'peers' and wanting friendship, knowing that often, the authenticity of either of those roles is often compromised by the other.
My husband is a career Marine, and most of our 'peers' are putting their kids in high school and college; I barely just got mine out of cloth diapers, it seems, and because many of my mom peers were raising their families while I was desperately trying to build mine, even our husbands' jobs don't gel relationships as I wish they did.
When moms of multiple children laugh about the trials of sibling rivalry and whether the new baby will be accepted, I sit quietly on the side, not being able to join in. Even though I am the mother of three boys - I can't claim them without people feeling sorry for my plight. Surely, they don't relate, nor do I about how hard it is to actually raise all three.
The isolation and tongue biting often make my body hot and my stomach knot, but I stay quiet so I don't lose what relationship I do have.
I can't relate to only advocating for homebirths or water births or unassisted births because if that had been my story? I'd have died along with my son. In the 'crunchy' groups to which I belong, I often hold my tongue because I don't want to scare people with my experiences - even though I once was them with the naïve belief that our bodies always do what they are supposed to…babies come when they're supposed to.
I often feel like I am way too conventional in my thinking for my crunchy friends and way too crunchy for my 'conventional' friends and thus - the authentic relationships with other moms I crave are too superficial to fully fill my heart.
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I am thankful for the handful of friends I have that know my heart and make me feel like I am a 'normal' mom, but the reality is that because I have a young son, I am often thrust in situations with tons of other moms that just make me feel like an alien in the territory of motherhood. Yes, I finally get to hold the card, but…I feel like I don't fully belong because I don't fit anywhere.
Even in groups of mothers who have lost children or suffered from infertility, I don't always fit in because I did have a child and I did have a child who lived.
I feel like an imposter. Imposters are isolated. Imposters crave something they're scared they will never find.
Imposters feel lonely even in rooms full of people.