Knowing that I’m an English teacher it probably doesn’t surprise you that I find power in words, can get lost in description, and dabble with various ways of phrasing something. When you hear the word “alone” what do you think of? Solidarity, companionless, solus. The definition of alone is…having no one else present. I am far from being alone. I have a faithful husband and five beautiful children that I share this journey with. I have parents that know exactly how to support me and a sister who is my cheerleader. I have dear friends who lift me up and a circle of souls who embrace me and encourage me.
So why do I feel alone?
When you look at the word alone, when it functions as an adverb (nerdy English teacher, I know) the definition is…on one’s own, indicating that something is confined to the specified subject. Being alone in this sense means only, solely, exclusively, no one else. This is me.
I have recently realized that I have a hard time connecting with other moms. So much of that is because I am an outlier, having five children. I walk this road alone in comparison to the many women I meet and interact with. When I meet a mom for the first time and she learns that I have five children, typically the response is, “oh, I couldn’t even imagine.” As nice as it is to hear that someone acknowledges that my situation might be different from their own, making it unique, what happens is an instant divide. I find myself feeling like she can’t relate, and I can’t relate. I feel myself shrink away and then the conversation is very surface level and never really goes anywhere.
I do find myself connecting with moms who have children like mine - with Celiac Disease, or a set of twins. or a gaggle of boys. We can chat about the best gluten free products or what restaurant offers the most variety of gluten free meals (Local Roots by the way is truly the best). We can also find common ground in raising two babies at once and what that juggle is like and yet how very special it is. The boy moms and I can go down the road of sports, rocks, bugs, and how they have endless energy and how we try our best to keep up. But even those connections fizzle sometimes because my life has a bigger picture, there are more moving parts, it isn’t just that story, it’s five stories. I also can connect to a working mother, but again the working part, not the home part of our lives. It’s similar don’t get me wrong, but there’s still this difference, this contrast, this divide.
My priorities are different, that seems strange to say, but in a way it’s true. A neighbor posted an article not too long ago that I found interesting and it helped to put into words this difference I felt. The article was titled “Moms of 3 are more stressed than those with any other number of kids” In the article, a psychiatrist is quoted in saying, “There’s just not enough space in your head for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids.” She goes on to talk about how the more children you have, the more confident you become and then you start to just let things go. Makes sense, right? I wouldn’t say I’m fully in the “relaxed” mode, or that I’ve gotten away from my perfectionism tendencies, but my focus is different it seems. For example I can’t micromanage every single piece of food my family eats, it’s not all healthy, we have too many snacks, but we are fed and happy. But what I do micromanage is laundry, there is a system and it helps us to be efficient! I’m okay when we are outside if we get dirty, digging in the mulch, carrying bugs, with messy faces and hair. But I insist on our nightly routine being consistent and getting to bed at a certain time. In conversations with moms when they talk about having their kids involved in a thousand different activities, or the latest gossip I just shy away. My life is so full, so demanding, I can’t care about what others are doing and I can’t compare my life, so I just don’t engage. I’m truly disengaged socially.
When you have a large family there isn’t time to be social, it’s not easy to get a babysitter because you really need two. So I know there are other moms with four and five children out there, but we are so busy living our life that it’s hard to share that time, so we just keep plugging along, we engage with our children and it’s wonderful, but it also leaves you feeling like you are on an island.
I have found comfort in this blogging journey of mine. By writing I am able to share my thoughts and feelings as well as my experiences. Through Instagram I’ve also been able to get off my island and meet other women who travel a similar journey and it’s been nice to make those connections. I love to follow Faye. She has five boys and they are always on an adventure. You remind me to not be afraid to get out there with my crew and explore, it’ll be good for all of us. I also adore Kristen. She has three girls and her two boys are her bookends. I am inspired by your simple, clean and classic style and am working on minimizing our world to make it more meaningful. There is also Amber. She just recently added her fifth to her crew and he is darling. I am inspired by your positive take on your journey, you exude confidence, resilience and hope. And finally there is Chloe. She has SIX kiddos! I love the bright colors and and energy that you share. Even though I have never met these women face to face, I now have people in my life that “get it” because they live it. It’s not to compare, but rather to understand and no longer feel alone. No longer do I feel like this journey is specific for just me, there are others that walk this same road. I am not the only one, this is not my exclusive perspective.
When I think about my true friends, they are women who I met and formed a bond with through a different avenue of my life other than motherhood. Those people know me and my passions and my story. We met in college, playing volleyball and then journeyed life together. We met because of our boyfriends and walked the same life, sharing the best experiences. We met through teaching and realized by working together that we are one-in-the-same and compliment one another perfectly. We met when we were babies and have always and will always consider ourselves sisters. These true friends knew me before I became the mother of five children. That’s not to say that I won’t ever make a new friend, but I find it hard to build meaningful relationships with others when our only common footing is motherhood, because it’s just so different.
So I’m really not alone, it just feels that way sometimes. It feels that way because my priorities are different, my time is limited, my focus is on my children. But that’s really all of us. Yes my journey might look different, but I’m not alone in that unique path. The introvert in me has allowed me to succumb to the quiet place, because I need the quiet sometimes, but folding inward isn’t doing me any good. It’s okay to have a small circle of people who get you and still be able to find joy in the many other interactions I encounter with women and mothers like myself. Just the other day, Weston was at soccer practice and I took Parker and Corbin with me because there is a really nice playground close by, while Mo stayed home with the twins. Corbin started playing in the sand with these two boys around his age and there was a mom holding a little baby girl on the bench nearby. I reached out and introduced myself - those that know me know that this is huge. We had a great conversation, her boys are twins and she’s a working mom, it was nice to connect even if it will never be a substantial relationship.
What I’m trying to say is I was letting my differences be a barrier. By focusing on the contrasts of our daily lives I was creating the island I felt like I was on. I’m working on not hiding behind my unique life and rather embracing it and finding joy in the chaos, I’m realizing that the varied relationships I have with other women is exactly what I need right now, whether that be my people, my virtual connections, or those acquaintances. They all matter and help shape who I am.
So even if I am alone, meaning that this journey that I am on as a mother of five is an exclusive experience, that doesn’t really mean that I’m alone - companionless, in solidarity, and without anyone present. My life is full and rich in so many ways. Thank you for being my people and helping me realize that I’m not really alone.