Isolating Myself for the First 3.5 Years of Motherhood Was the Best Thing I Ever Did

The moment you reveal you’re pregnant, you’re inundated with people telling you it takes a village, find your tribe, join mom groups, find play groups. Basically, surrounded yourself with moms.

I did none of this, and I couldn’t have been happier.

They say to connect with other moms because only they can understand. Only moms can give advice you can trust. Only moms can commiserate.

When I got pregnant with my first, I was in grad school (for clinical psychology with an emphasis on children, so I don’t have a “guide,” but a really, really good idea of what to do). My group consisted of the oldest person in our cohort, three moms, and me (the only married and childless person in the cohort). They supported me throughout my pregnancy and offered advice. But most of our time was focused to helping each other survive grad school and find balance between our personal and professional lives.

Until I started blogging last year, that was my last contact with a group of moms.

Oh, I had my mom, aunts, cousins, and my sisters-in-law. But my only frequent contact with a mom was my mom, who sees motherhood has an individual journey where every mom wears her own shoes. Basically, everyone parents differently and it’s none of her business.

For the first 3.5 years, I was a stay-at-home mom, though I did spend a chunk of time working with children with autism. We enrolled our son in classes that put us in contact with other moms and kids. We went to playgrounds and libraries and my son ran away from the other kids. But as an introvert who is slow to warm up to everyone, I never belonged to a mom group, never made mom friends.

I’m sure there are some moms who might be horrified at the thought. After all, only another mom can understand you, validate you, and offer “real” advice. Seriously, as a childless grad student, it was occasionally my job to provide parenting advice and strategies to parents (that worked! And we did have some grateful parents).

I have two best friends that I’ve grown up with. They know me. They understand me. They validate me. They sometimes ask questions that get me thinking. I have my mom who will always give advice when I ask, along with telling me everything everyone said would work that didn’t work on me. Sorry, Mom.

But, you know what? I’m glad I isolated myself from other moms for 3.5 years, and I’m reminded every day of this every time I read a mom blog.

The comparison. The mom shaming. The judgment.

For 3.5 years, all of that was absent from my life. I got to focus on my kids, getting to know them and their particular needs without someone else hovering over my shoulder. Pure bliss!

When my son turned 3 and was nowhere near potty trained I didn’t feel like I was doing something wrong, didn’t feel like he and I weren’t measuring up to thousands of other kids. When my daughter was 6 months and waking every hour, I didn’t feel pressured to sleep train. When my kids throw their rare public tantrums, I don’t give a flying fig about what someone else is thinking.

I spent 3.5 years not comparing myself or my kids to anyone else. I spent that time getting to know my kids and their particular needs. I became confident in my ability to parent. I combed through hundreds of pages of links, compiling information and dozens of ways to reach the same goal to shape something that would actually work with my kids.

I didn’t know motherhood was supposed to be so hard that we’re supposed to reach for wine bottles…by the case? I don’t know; I don’t drink! I didn’t know motherhood was supposed to leave me feeling guilty and in tears and questioning every little thing I did. I didn’t know motherhood was supposed to have me begging for me time, a day at the spa, or just one opportunity to go to the bathroom alone. I didn’t even know there was a divide between working and stay at home moms. I didn’t know motherhood was supposed to be simultaneously filled with overwhelming love and joy at these small humans and near-crippling fears of am I good enough?

I knew motherhood was supposed to be exhausting because I watched my mom raise 3 of us, and my brother and I were 2 under 2. But she raised 3 to my 2 and was later diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, so I always think I have it easier.

Yes, I am tired. But, to me, motherhood is easy. When my kids get rowdy and earsplittingly loud, I smile, remember they’re just kids with lots of energy I’m envious of, and grab a piece of chocolate for that sugar boost. Getting to know who they are as people has been an honor and privilege. Finding the source of their tears and tantrums is my job, as sometimes a meltdown is the only way they can communicate their frustration, anger, and sadness when they lack the vocabulary. Finding fun ways to get them to do what I want them to turns into silly games, and teaches me a lot about them. I had no idea my son was so competitive!

If I had followed the same advice and guidelines that inundate moms every day through the Internet and, hopefully, well-meaning people, I would be bald. If I had compared myself to other moms, I would probably be in a padded cell. If I had subjected myself to judgment and shaming, I would be swimming in my tears.

I don’t believe motherhood is hard. I think being a mom wading in a sea of other moms is hard.

By isolating myself from other moms, I became confident in my mothering abilities, got to know my kids and their particular needs, and am able to tailor what I do to what they need. Overconfident? Heck, yes! I spent the majority of those 3.5 years without real mom contact working hard to be the mother my kids need. I know them better than anyone else. So, yes, I am 100% confident in myself as a mom and you’d better believe I’m a perfect mom. My kids tell me so with their hugs, kisses, laughter, and love. And clinginess.

By surrounding myself with other moms, trying to fit in with them, trying every technique they did, I wouldn’t be all of the above. I wouldn’t be the mom my kids need. I would have been putting everything other people deemed best on them.

Isolating myself from other moms for the first 3.5 years of my motherhood journey was the best thing I ever did. I felt zero pressure to do anything a certain way and at a certain time. My kids are sweet, silly, creative, polite, and rather well-behaved in public at almost 2 and 5. They reach milestones on their own terms, when they are ready, and they know I will always challenge and support them.

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28 thoughts on “Isolating Myself for the First 3.5 Years of Motherhood Was the Best Thing I Ever Did

  1. THIS. xx Amazing, Kat. I was exactly the same, to the point where I suffered anxiety at the thought of catching up with the mother’s group, and eventually decided to stop going (not long into it at all). I’m just not a social person, and I also was (am) a very intuitive person (and mother). I knew any advice was well meaning but it was ultimately noise that was distracting me from the absolute truth, which was I was given these mothering instincts for a reason. I don’t enter into conversations of comparison at all, these days. I just smile politely, so as not to be rude, and the subject usually moves on, which is nice. ☺️ Keep following your intuition. It sounds like it’s done you and your beautiful bubbas a world of good! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your words give me so much joy. I was afraid I was the only one, but the truth is there must be many others who feel secure in their intuition. A mother’s instinct is a very real thing, and being part of a group just isn’t for everyone. Though we share so much I’ll happily be in your group any day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this! You have always been my most independent friend, and I’ve always looked up to you for your navigation of life on your own terms. Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been your own leader and creative with how you solve things. I’m happy to see that this hasn’t changed. Love you and miss you guys! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I miss you so much! I’m not sure if I was independent or stubborn, but it has been good for me. Having my very thoughtful and creative sister living closer would be even better, but you being an ocean away makes me think you’re probably the more independent one. Love you and miss you so much!

      Like

  3. THIS is the mom blog we all need!! I’ve been terrified of motherhood for all the reasons you listed – comparison of what other moms are going to think and say. And I’m not someone who cares for those kinds of comparisons. Thank you so much for being real about appreciating motherhood and the individual little humans you are raising into this world. I have so much more hope about motherhood after reading your post. 🖤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I’m so touched! Motherhood is hard enough, I don’t know why we have to compare, judge, and shame so much. I imagine for a hopeful mother-to-be it must be a little stressful. I love being a mom, especially when I can just tune out the distracting noise of what I should and shouldn’t be doing and just listen to my precious monkeys instead.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s always what I’ve believed it to be, but then social media happened and a whole world of competitive stress was opened up to me. I love that you write so clearly about what it actually means to be a mom. It feels like it bring forth that best version of me that knows what I’m doing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! So many people don’t seem to understand introverts, but we’re everywhere. I hate the idea that there’s only one way to do something. It creates too much anxiety. Besides, it’s fun to do things differently.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. So agree with all of this! Everyone pressures you to join a ‘mom club’ I had no desire to! Now I have mom friends but at first I just wanted to learn how to be a mom on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s really great to have the time and space to find our own mom legs without other moms putting pressure to do things their way. Thank you so much for reading!

      Like

  5. How beautifully penned !!
    “motherhood has an individual journey where every mom wears her own shoes.” After having a kid , you naturally get a feeling of having other friends as moms , taking your kids together to a park , organise play dates…but all i have noticed in this is that you end up with comparison about your kids..which i realised later makes you feel inferior at some point.
    Best wishes for great Parenting .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Having mom friends would be lovely, but all the comparison, judgment, and shaking that can happen terrifies me. All the best as you travel your own parenting journey, and thank you so much for stopping by!

      Like

  6. I did the same with my first and found when Facebook came in to play I questioned almost everything I did (for awhile anyhow). It’s one reason I’m ushering Facebook out the door. It’s time to go back to a simpler time when I trusted myself as a mom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I envy my mom because she got to raise us without social media. Today it’s so hard to not worry about how you stack up as a mom, but all it does it generate amazing levels of anxiety. Mom instincts are strong and I think we’ll all benefit by listening to them more than what other people have to say. Best of luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Lily Cafe Digest, No. 2 – The Lily Cafe

  8. love love love this!!! this is me! I do not attend any groups, I do not have any social media besides my own blog. I don’t have any of the pressures of being perfect or ever feel like I have to be put together. this is wonderful!!

    Liked by 1 person

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