TITLE: The Era of Loneliness
By Rhonda Egging
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The Era of Loneliness
I didn’t see it coming; it slammed right into me like a motorcycle on the sidewalk. My children grew up, my husband changed jobs, we moved, and I entered the miry pit of loneliness.
After giving birth to my first child, I experienced “After Pains”.
“Why am I still in pain?” I asked the lactation nurse.
“Oh, didn’t anyone tell you? Every time you nurse your baby you will have After Pains.”
Loneliness, the After Pain of motherhood, constricted at my heart. For twenty years of my adult life, I felt essential; two human beings needed my nurture, my care, my strength. I gave them my life.
After the move, I found myself going full weeks with my only human interaction being with my very busy husband. The poor guy, not used to a stagnant partner, didn’t even notice. I reached out to women in our church, but they didn’t know me as my true self, a mother. They didn’t know how great my children turned out. They sat across from me sipping their coffee asking questions about me, not my husband, not my kids, but me. I didn’t have answers.
Leaving a gathering of young women, watching them holding those little hands and folding those small bodies into car seats and seat belts. I thought how fun it all looked. I loved hearing them exchange parenting ideas and offer up prayers for each other’s children. I just listened. I knew not to offer my own suggestions, unless asked. They needed to make their own discoveries.
Sitting in my car alone, watching the moms pull away into lives filled with naps, meals, book reading, cartoon watching, and spur of the moment hugs. My aloneness felt unnatural. Maybe I should have had more children. My husband and I could have filled our house with oodles of small noses to wipe, minds to fill and soft hands to hold. If I kept an endless supply of children around my house, I would never have to experience this pain.
I didn’t want to take the drugs; I thought they might numb my grief. I knew I needed to learn from my sorrow. Allow the anguish to course through me and out. I hoped.
I talked to my children on Skype. I visited them in their dorm rooms, and tiny apartments. We began new relationships. Adult children relationships, hands off and mouth shut. My son and daughter love me, and some day they will need me again, but in this between times, they need to escape. I simply have to applaud.
“Yay, good job, keep going. Call when you can.”
I volunteered to read with children, got a job teaching other people’s children, took up new hobbies, and joined groups. Nothing replaced being a mother. I loved being a mom.
No one warned me about this. When I learned about the “After Pains” of childbirth, I warned other moms. Women must have walked this path ahead of me yet they didn’t tell me. It seems the solution is unique to the individual.
One wonderful outcome so far has been a very deep friendship with Jesus Christ. I feel his presence; I am encouraged by his word. I am not the young hot mom anymore, but I do have significance and worth. I am a child of God, and even on the worst days, that is enough.
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