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Complicated emotions of loneliness and motherhood

The loneliness of motherhood doesn’t require you to be alone to feel it. In fact, the moment you find out you are going to be a mother, it’s impossible to ever be alone again. Thoughts of your children consume you; the deep longing for their presence never more than a breath away.

Complicated emotions

As a new momma, the loneliness first comes to you as you fight to understand how your feelings of inadequacy can mix so thoroughly with the fiercest love you’ve ever felt. Even as you hold your precious newborn and marvel at the love that passes between you, worry tugs at you, bringing with it feelings of being completely alone in the world.

Your baby grows and you do too. You become confident, sure of your parenting skills. You may add another baby or two or more, but you somehow find yourself amazed at how your life becomes harder and easier at the same time. Life is louder now. You laugh, and sometimes cry, as you long for even a few moments of solitude when you go to the bathroom. Even when those tiny fingers one day no longer appear beneath the door, you’ve figured out that you’ll never be alone. As longing for your children fights with the need for peace, you feel a new kind of loneliness creep in.

The feeling of loneliness changes as your children grow

Your children break away from you slowly as they grow. One day you figure out that your children are doing more than growing up; they are growing away. You watch helplessly as they slip away a little at a time, somehow finding their way back to you again and again. Together, you continue this painful dance of letting go until the day finally comes when adulthood snatches them away, leaving you faced with the impossible feeling of being alone even though your child is always present in your heart.

As you cry tears of joy as you watch your babies take flight, you glance away and catch a glimpse of the emptiness of your nest. Your tears shift as loneliness envelopes you, as you finally figure out that every mother feels this pain, this pain of emptiness mingled with love that threatens to break your heart in two.

If you’re fortunate, that newborn who grew up when you weren’t watching will come back to you as a friend. As you tiptoe through this bittersweet new relationship, sharp pains of loneliness will find their way to you as each gift of a hug you receive now takes you back to when you held them so freely in your arms. Pictures on your wall will take you back to the lifetime you had with them before this new life began. The loneliness of spending time in both worlds will sometimes take your breath away.

Years of holding your baby under your heart and in your arms make them a permanent part of you. It will finally dawn on you that you will never be alone again even though the feelings your child stirs up inside of you will be the sweetest and loneliest feelings your heart has ever felt.

Motherhood is so bittersweet

Motherhood is the gift you’ll never stop being grateful for even as you slowly give each piece of your heart away, leaving you with memories and the loneliest love you’ll ever feel.

There is simply nothing as beautiful and bittersweet as being a mother. Its love without end will consume your days. Its ache of loneliness will surprise you with joy and happiness.

Being a mother may be lonely, but once you become one, you will never be alone again.


Sandy Brannan, author of Becoming Invisible, So Much Stays Hidden, Masquerade, and Frozen in Time, teaches middle school and high school English. Sandy's idea of a perfect day is one spent creating memories with her grandchildren. This usually includes coloring and reading a lot of books. You can read more of Sandy's work on her blog at

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  1. Helen Brannan

    This is another great story to help moms. As a mother of two I can so see myself in each of these paragraphs. I love my grown children and yet I know they are living their new lives. I am proud of their lives but neither lives close to us. That makes it hard. I keep those childhood memories in my heart and look at the photos around the house to remind myself of all the joy! We feel so blessed to have had them and now watch them with children of their own.

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