Motherhood is amazing, joyful and full of love. It is also lonely, isolating, mundane and frustrating. I have found that one of the best ways to combat the loneliness and isolation, and to laugh rather than cry, is to find other mothers with whom you can share these moments, both big and small, and who understand what it is to feel a constant battle for a sense of self. Within my first year of motherhood I have found that it is all too easy to forget who you are, that you are someone, not just someone’s mother. It is easy to lose your identity, and to feel that you are simply a caregiver and an extension of your child. That is how I have been feeling lately.
It is also within that community of motherhood, of lovely, generous and kind women whom you call friends and look to for support, that you can feel at your loneliest and most isolated. When your child is different, and has needs that are not the norm, it is within those mothers that this fact becomes most glaringly obvious, when your experience is not mirrored or understood. The feelings are complex. When you feel surrounded by “normal” and find yourself as “the other”, especially when that relates to the medical needs of your child, it is difficult not to become frustrated and feel jealousy, and to wonder why your child is not as “lucky”, to ask why your journey of motherhood has not been so “easy”. These words are emphasised as everything is relative and subjective, and of course everyone has their own struggles and parts of motherhood that they might feel are not comparable to others. And this is all within a middle class, first world bubble of privilege that is not comparable with much of the world. While my daughter may have complex medical needs, we also have access to some of the world’s best specialists and hospitals, and the money to pay for these when they are not free and provided by a fantastic public healthcare system, and the education and experience to advocate for the best for my daughter. Many of the world’s mothers would view this experience of motherhood as very “lucky” or “easy”. So everything is relative.
However it can be difficult not to alienate yourself from these other mothers, in order to protect yourself from the mirror that is held up between you that finds fault in your experience. And that is what I am struggling with at present.