New parents, mums in particular, always go on about “the things no one tells you about parenthood/having a baby/etc”. I’ve read all of these and have found that there’s one thing missed off every list. Although it does mention how lonely motherhood is and this is very much true, what it doesn’t mention is that if you had loss of friends to start with, and although those friends will be around loads in the beginning, they start to disappear. One by one. Without reason. Even the ones that also have kids. You’re never alone and yet you always feel alone. I have never professed to be “popular” by any stretch of the imagination, but to go from having the friends I did have to feeling like the loneliest person in the world is the hardest part of motherhood I have endured so far. I have seen posts by news mums saying how lonely they feel etc; and in the comments all of their friend post saying that they “are there for her”. But are they? Really? To me, a friend isn’t someone who will be there when it suits them. A friend is someone who is there when they say they’ll be there, and be there always. Even if it’s just a text once a week just to say “hi, how are you?”, and in being this friend, you can ensure you have a friend in her who will do the exact same thing. But don’t rely on her, as a new mum, to do the chasing. She has enough on her plate with a new baby, worrying if she’s doing everything right. Worrying if she screwed up her new child because she could not breastfeed and had to bottle feed instead. Worrying if the baby’s nappy is on right, or if they’re too hot or too cold. And please please please, don’t disappear for multiple weeks or months after you’ve decided she’s doing just fine, because underneath it all? Underneath the hard ‘mum’ exterior is a woman suffering. A woman sure she is doing everything wrong. A woman sure the reason you’re not around for her anymore is because she’s done something wrong. A woman silently suffering.
And no, before you say anything, it’s not just the ‘baby blues’. That ends within the first couple of weeks. If her child turns 1 and she still seems like she’s hiding away, not contacting anyone, not going out. She’s suffering. She needs someone to help her through it.
My PPD was diagnosed a while ago and I recently had panic disorder thrown into the mix too. Not a lot of people know this. In fact, only my partner knows. I constantly feel like I’m drowning, and that by telling other people I’m going to be pushed further under. I can’t breathe.
There are days I could really use a friend. A friend who I can pop round in my jammie’s for a glass of wine or a cup of tea and a chat. Or a friend who could come to me for the exact same thing when we need each other most. I don’t like to do the chasing, I feel like I’m pestering. One day I might pluck up the courage to go out and meet new friends. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll have that friend who I can call ‘my bestie’