The Loneliness of Motherhood

I awoke this morning pondering what it was like for the mother of Jesus, specifically Luke 1:35  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.I asked God, “What was that like?” I was referring to the Holy Spirit coming upon her and overshadowing her.  I didn’t hear an answer then, but I just did.  “Being the mother of Jesus was lonely.  There was the initial loneliness because of the stigma of being unmarried and pregnant, but later on it was lonely because no one could understand the promise of his life or the foretelling of his death.  There was no one to talk to and share worries with. There was no one to share hope and successes with because they weren’t the same as other kids.”


This week I have spent time with mothers of toddlers, and I remember the loneliness of that time.  You are surrounded by activity and constant noise and someone needing you, but there is part of your heart that is not fed because who one has time for such lofty goals as conversation with adults when you are taking care of little people.  I remember when one of my closest friends would come visit when our children were toddlers.  She would spend several days at my house.  We would parent all day, trying to talk and failing because it seemed someone was always hungry or poopy.  Then, night would come and all the babies would be in bed and we would look at each other, too exhausted to have a conversation, and we would just go to bed.

 Middle years aren’t so lonely.  The kids are funny to listen to and big enough to reason with most of the time. The exception, at least for me, has been sporting events.  I’m so awkward in a crowd.  I don’t know who to talk to, I’m too insecure to sit with people I don’t know.  I am too weird to hold up my side of the conversation about ‘girl’ stuff (you know, fashion, decorating, cooking, dating, PTA, drama). If it isn’t deep and meaningful conversation I suck at it. Somehow asking the woman next to me, “So how is your marriage? Do you and your husband take time to focus on each other so your relationship stays strong?” seems inappropriate.  So there I sit with my book, trying to pay enough attention to be able to give details to my kid after the game so they think I am interested, yet trying to do something that keeps my brain somewhat stimulated, and wondering what all the other mom’s think of me.  Of course, this time of life is busy with running.  Often times my husband and I see each other just long enough to kiss good night, like tonight and tomorrow night… maybe we can spend that time together on Friday night… 

 This week I also spent time with mothers of teenagers.  My oldest will be a senior in a few short weeks. This is a lonely time too.  It is the time when you realize that you have invested your time and your heart into these people, and if you’ve done a good job of it all, they are going to leave you and start their own lives.  They just got interesting enough to have deep conversation and good debates and suddenly they are too busy for you. It’s kind of a cruel joke, really. Occasionally, like tonight, one of them will hang out with you when the rest of the house has gone to bed (I expect this is going to cost me money).  But the times with the conversation do help quench the lonely places in my heart. And now, as my children are growing older I do have actual hour intervals when I can be with my husband or clean out my closet, or type a blog.  
When the loneliness builds up, I guess I have to learn from Mary.  Jesus has to be the one that fills that hole.  Really, this longing deep in my heart for relationship can’t be filled by my children, my husband, or my friends.  No matter how many of them I have, there is a longing deep inside of me for connection with my creator. Tonight, I think I will stop and recognize that and say, come Lord Jesus come.  Holy Spirit, won’t you come upon me and overshadow me like you did Mary? (But I really don’t want to have any more kids.  I will if that’s what you want, but I think I should make myself clear).  Wait, that wasn’t her response. Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” That’s what I meant to say.

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