Hello friends! Thanks for stopping by and spending a little bit of time with me on this lovely day. If you are at home due to social distancing I hope this post can provide you with a different perspective, insight into my thoughts, and hopefully a little bit of entertainment especially if you feel as if you are going to pull your hair out because you have cabin fever.
As I look on Instagram & Facebook I’ve seen tons of posts about how what is going on in the world is a community issue, along with the importance of staying connected with others while we’re in a state of social distancing. I am happy to see so many people expressing the need for connection & community because social isolation can be tricky. On one hand isolation is a powerful tool that can be used to renew, refresh, and recharge your mind, body, and spirit but on the other it can exacerbate undesirable behavioral patterns, feelings, emotions, & loneliness.
In no way shape or form am I trying to take away from the encouragement of togetherness that is being expressed right now because it is definitely needed. But… (I know nothing good ever comes from a but, BUT it is the only word I know how to use right now) this has me thinking about the mental wellness & emotional state new mothers experience when they return home from the hospital and are adjusting to life with a new baby.
So, take a moment to humor me… I want you to take just a few moments to think… Prior to the current state of our world have you been compelled to provide words of encouragement, express the importance of connection, or the need to create/maintain a sense of community for the new mothers in your life? Essentially, moms have been engaging in social distancing since the beginning of time, and some of us haven’t even noticed. When they return home from the hospital they are very much so in a similar space and environment that we find ourselves in today, except they have the added bonus of a little baby to go with it.
The exercise above is not meant to make you feel like a terrible person, but instead to explore the similarities between what is going on in our world right now, and how this perspective may compel you to alter a future interaction with someone in your life.
So, I’ll be the first to admit it… I’m guilty. I haven’t always done my part to check on my mom friends…
It was not until I became a mom that I truly understood the magnitude the lack of physical interaction and connection to others can have on a person. Even though I have been successful when working with clients dealing with isolation and loneliness it is completely different when you experience it first hand. And here I am admitting again… I was in a space where I was trying to figure out how to deal with isolation and loneliness after voluntarily choosing to engage in social distancing after having my baby.
I don’t know about you, but in my family staying in your house is encouraged after having a baby. This is supposed to help avoid any unnecessary exposure to outside elements since “you’re still wide open”, “healing”, and “that baby is just to new to be outside”. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely agree that I was in need of some serious home time while my body healed, I adjusted to the change in my hormones, sleep cycle (i.e. sleep deprivation), figured out how to keep a tiny human alive, and let’s not forget that the weather was just terrible. The day after I returned home from the hospital there was a blizzard. Yes! A actual blizzard! I was in Nebraska in February so experiencing a blizzard wasn’t really out of the ordinary.
While I was at home and trying to figure out how to do this whole “mom thing” I started to experience what I call a different kind of mom guilt. Oftentimes, we hear about how mothers are feeling guilty due to engaging in activities without their children like getting coffee with a friend, mani/pedi, or going on a solo stroll outside.
Well during this time my mom guilt was brought on by thoughts that I did not do enough to encourage, support, or connect with my friends who became mothers before I did. Now granted my feelings of guilt may have been exacerbated because I was going through the changes myself: mentally, emotionally, hormonally due to just having a baby.
But a few weeks back I was chatting with a friend, and was reminded of the mom guilt I felt early on in my postpartum journey. And during our conversation I disclosed the amount of guilt I felt due to my failure to check on my mom friends. Especially our friends who had their children earlier on in our lives. When I tell you I have felt horrible about this, I felt HORRIBLE. Why didn’t I check on my friends more? I could have sent a extra text, made a additional call, cooked a dish, stopped by to chat (if they would allow of course), sent a card, shoot done anything! But I didn’t.
And to my surprise this friend disclosed that she had similar thoughts after giving birth to her son. She experienced this different kind of mom guilt too. As our conversation continued we both shared how our guilt led us to contact one of our mom friends shortly after having our own babies and apologizing if we were sucky friends to them after they had their baby’s. And both of these moms had similar reactions to our admission of guilt. First they chuckled a little bit and then told us there was no need to apologize, and that they understood that we were in a different place in our life at the time. They understood and did not fault us for our actions at the time.
So, what do we do about this? How do we combat experiencing this other kind of mom guilt?
Oftentimes, when working with clients I explain that during our sessions we are practicing different behaviors or steps they can incorporated in every day life. So, let’s look at this social distancing period as your “session”. If you have felt compelled during this time of social distancing to promote the importance of community and connection I want to encourage you to not loose sight of that once this pandemic is over. Let this be the time where you are developing habits of connecting with others who may be participating in social distancing during a time in their life where we may view their alone time as “normal” or not out of the ordinary.
Becoming a new mother is one example where we expect someone to distance themselves, but keep in mind there are a few other situations out there as well: dealing with a loss (death, relationship, job, etc.), moving to a different state/country, illness, added responsibility (job promotion, position, or becoming a caretaker), or being a stay at home mom.
And since communication requires the participation of both parties involved I would like to encourage those on the opposing end to respond to the people in your life when they reach out. Like I mentioned earlier alone time (isolation/social distancing/whatever term you want to call it) can have both positive and negative effects on a person so just be mindful of that.
If anything this forced isolation has exposed the importance of human interaction and community. So, as we try to uncover the big picture behind the pandemic our world is experiencing, I have decided to view this as a time where we can collectively connect and support each other. Continue to reach out, continue to engage, continue to talk, let’s continue to support each other…
Again, thank you so much for stopping by, and I’ll see you next time,
If you like what you’ve read don’t forget to subscribe, like, or submit a comment in the section below. And I would love to hear how you’re supporting yourself and others during this time.
**If you need any additional support as you navigate motherhood schedule a 15-minute consultation with Patience today. You are not alone mama.**
If you would like to hear more about a Different Kind of Mom guilt listen to my guest appearance on the Me, Myself, and HER podcast.
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