Being a mother is many things. It is joy, it is responsibility, love, exhaustion. But the thing that many people don’t realize is that despite being with another human almost ALL the time, it can be lonely.
There is the loneliness of being at home with your little ones while your partner goes to work. There is the loneliness of others giving you alone time to nurse and change your baby’s diaper.
The loneliness of being up at night with a baby or toddler who won’t sleep while the world around you does. Or being ostracized in a grocery store when your child decides right then and there is the ideal time to test their lungs during a tantrum. I’m sure you can list moments of loneliness in motherhood and parenthood too.
But there is a secret loneliness to parenting a child with special needs like autism. These types of loneliness are not always outgrown.
Invited to the Party
This is when you are invited but not included, or you have to go sit in a back room with your child because everything has become too loud or crowded. Even worse is when another adult guest points their finger right at your child and says out loud, “What’s wrong with that kid”. Like your child laughing and flapping is the rude one vs the adult pointing and discriminating an innocent person.
Not being invited
Being completely left out because the host wants to avoid anything “awkward” or “different” instead of taking advantage of an opportunity to spread joy, friendship, and understanding.
Your child gets compared
Would you compare how well a dolphin and a goat can swim? Then why would a friend compare a special needs child’s abilities to a neurotypical kid’s skills? Nothing compares to the feelings of frustration when someone asks when your child started walking, talking, reading, or the worst sleeping through the night. Then they brag about how wonderful, smart, and gifted their average cupcake sparkles when compared to your strong and different little one. In one (hopefully short) conversation the other adult just undervalued your parenting and insulted your hard working, special needs child. There is a real loneliness in hearing others meet regular time lines and then no one gets it when your family celebrates small milestones that are huge to you.
Mommy park group
This is when a group of moms get together at the park and sit together and chat while their children play close by. I was tricked when Mr. L and Mr. C were both in diapers. I was told the others would help, that I needed other moms to talk with, and that we would all have fun. Mommy park group meant I chased Mr. L all over the place, carried Mr. C on my hip and went home crying because all the moms sat together and talked and watched me. I was on display, I tried to talk and then lost Mr. L and found him across the park behind a tree unaware I had been screaming his name panicked.
Or just staying home
The playground is exhausting, the bank stressful, grocery store is overwhelming, church can feel judgmental, and the restaurant can just be embarrassing. So instead of fighting, teaching, practicing, advocating, or pushing through sometimes you just stay home. You don’t get the small talk with the cashier, the smile and nod when the door gets held for you, and you don’t get to greet others at church. You stay home with your people.
Do you feel the seclusion of parenting sometimes? What do you do to combat it? Do you know others that may be in the thick of motherhood that could use a pick me up? What do you do to help other moms feel included?