Owner of a Lonely Heart

January 8, 2016

A few weeks ago, I decided to go on an adventure with Milly. I wanted to ride the subway into DC, go to the Renwick Gallery, and soak up some art with my girl. Usually Milly is in school during the week and I use those morning times to work, but she was out of school and I could easily switch my work hours to the afternoon.

I thought it might be fun to make this adventure a mommy/toddler play date with some of my friends with kids Milly’s age. I was so excited to finally have time to reconnect with these women who are some of my dearest friends, but also who connect me to a life outside of my house. Being around friends refuels me, especially when I’ve been feeling like a frantic, overwhelmed, over scheduled, mess of a mom. Which happens a lot.

No one could come with us.

To be fair, I only invited 5 mamas. I could have invited more. After being turned down at every door, I gave up. I decided to just make the most of it and planned to go with Milly on my own. I still felt really down and alone on the island of motherhood.

Motherhood can be incredibly lonely.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom, or a work-at-home-mom, or you work away from your home, being a parent can be isolating. Which is sort of the point, in some ways. When we create family units (whether they have children or dogs or cats or 2 people together with books, netflix, and beer), the idea is that we are creating an intentional grouping of people we most want to share our time and lives with. The more we dig into that family, the less we see of our extended family of friends. And that’s a totally normal pattern.

After awhile, though, we tend to crave a different perspective. A different voice. Different surroundings. We want to feel connected to more than just our family; we want to feel connected and a part of the bigger world.

Ok. Maybe not “we.” But I certainly do.

I straddle the line between introvert and extrovert. I like having my own space and time, totally solo. Being at home with my family is grounding and nourishing. I also know that teaching yoga can boost my mood. And hanging out with good friends is as comforting as a cup of chamomille tea.

I know I’m not the only mama who feels this way. I recently read another blog which touched on this, written by a SAHM. I also know that as mamas we tend to devalue our own needs for the sake of the needs of others. It’s something we’re taught when we go to “mom school.”

Milly and I ended up going on our Renwick adventure, but we didn’t go solo. Nathan snuck out of work for a long lunch. It was his birthday, so it was fitting to spend part of the day with him. The sculptures in the WONDER exhibit were incredible. And although the gallery was packed with people, it was worth the trip.

Funnily enough, on the way out of the gallery, we bumped into another mom, one of my students and her 2 kids. She was solo with them. We chatted for a bit before she dove into the madness of the crowds and art.

It occurred to me that I need to get better at reaching out. That if I want the comfort and support of community,  I need to create it, not expect it.

I think we all need to get better at this, actually. We need to get better at what Glennon Melton calls “sistering.” Sistering isn’t limited to women or moms or actual sisters; sistering is an act of bolstering one another so that we can go through life supported instead of solo. Sistering is about creating your tribe.

It’s so much easier to not reach out and blame our loneliness on everyone else. On the moms who have other plans. On your kids who require your attention. Or your schedule which keeps you so busy you don’t have time for anything other than errands, work, and meals (that’s a whole other blog). Or your friends who seem to have cooler, more exciting lives than your own.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own busy-ness and not realize that we need a little sistering refuel until we stop to catch our breath.

Here’s an example: 3 years ago, Nathan gave me a gift certificate to go to Spa World. Not wanting to go by myself, I asked about 10 of my friends. Not a single one could clear the space in their schedule to go. To be fair, my schedule was fairly limited, with my weekends chock full of teaching yoga. 3 years later, the gift certificate is still embarrassingly unused.

Next week, I have a tea date with a friend. I am more excited about it than almost anything else I’ve done in months, with the slight exception of attending a New Year’s workshop with one of my favorite teachers, Elena Brower.

Spending time with people I like a lot and respect. This is among the things that feed my soul.

My mission this year is to feel less isolated and more connected. My intention is to build my tribe and spend time with them. I will reach out, make plans, try again if they fall through. I will stop getting so emo about it when I feel rejected and lonely because there are only so many hours you can listen to The Cure safely. I will make my tribe big. Full of a diverse group of people I adore.

I will cultivate the art of sistering. I will not simply expect to be supported by my sisters. I will nourish and support them. I will continue to reach out no matter what and never stop trying. Because sisterhood is worth it.

Who’s with me?

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