Connection + Solitude
For the past 17 years, I’ve been dedicated my work to getting moms healthier. By no surprise, this is usually a focus on how they can get in exercise and healthy eating. I now realize that I was missing a really big part of health and happiness for moms. I think all moms need two more things. They need both connection and solitude.
Let’s start with connection. We as human beings have a need to connect. Moms especially have a need to connect. I actually have realized that in my work with Stroller Strides. Not all moms would look for a fitness program, but all moms look for a way to connect with other moms. Why? Because motherhood is lonely. It’s overwhelming. It’s full of self doubt. By connecting with other moms, we gain support, a safety net, advice. We need someone we can be vulnerable with, someone we can ugly cry with, someone who doesn’t care that we have spit up on our shirt. We can get knowledge from books but we can get wisdom from other moms. In other cultures, moms are surrounded by their village. Babies are raised by generations of family. In America, we are very much alone. We have our baby. Dad and maybe grandma will hang out for a week or two at best and then mom is alone. And for me, it’s a couple of weeks in that the honeymoon period was over. That was when the overwhelm began and the collick began and the sleeplessness really kicked in. And I felt so alone. My normally decisive self doubted everything. Was my baby getting enough milk? Should I co sleep? Attachment parent? How to I get him to sleep? What I needed was connection. And that’s why I did start Stroller Strides. For myself. For connection. I started it because honestly I’m terrible at making friends. I’m always worried that people won’t like me or that I won’t fit in. I never know how to make the approach. I’m so awkward. So I started Stroller Strides so that I was already “in the circle” and it was super important to me that it was a circle that was really easy to approach. I wanted it to be easy to join and inclusive to all. It doesn’t matter if you are tall or short or fat or thin or a bottle feeder or breastfeeder. I just wanted Stroller Strides to be your place to connect. And if it’s not Stroller Strides, please go find your village. At any stage of motherhood, you need connection.
What I didn’t realize until later was that what was missing for me as a mom was solitude. Now, if you are a stay at home mom, you probably think that you get plenty of that. But solitude is not when you are watching your child or when you are cleaning your house. Solitude by the way is not loneliness. Loneliness is painful. It’s isolating. It’s a negative state. But I see solitude as a way of being with myself. It’s when I get in touch with what I need, how I feel, who I am. We as moms are so busy that we never get a chance to just be. We are human beings, not human doings. We fill every nook and cranny of space with doing. We listen to podcasts on runs (ok I do). We bring our phone into the bathroom (me again, well sometimes). Every mom I meet tells me she is overwhelmed. Her life feels chaotic. Slow down. Take a breath. Like right now, I mean it, take a deep breath. You need space. Ideally, I would love if you could take a mommy time out every single day. Maybe it’s during nap time or maybe you get a sitter or maybe you get up before your family. Take a little time to do something that fills your soul. Meditate, journal, doodle, read, take a walk. Give yourself a little space to daydream. Let your mind wander and let your thoughts settle. You will see that the chaos in your brain settles. I don’t think it matters if you are an introvert or extrovert. Now for some people, solitude is uncomfortable. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable being with yourself. Choose to give yourself some space to get to know you. To reconnect with you.
So yes, I want you to get in exercise and to eat healthy. And to take your health and happiness to the next level. I want you to also make sure you have connection and solidarity in your life.
Not sure what to do? Check out my meditations with ideas for both connection and solitude.