Motherhood & The Problem that Has No Name – Part One

By Irene Alexander // Tales From the Trenches


February 25  

I started noticing it after my second child was born. My first two were fourteen months apart. Even after those crazy months of sleep deprivation and hormones resettling, I just couldn’t shake this underlying feeling of sadness, loneliness, and unfulfillment. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, I thought. I had everything I had ever dreamed of: to be married with children. And yet, somehow, it didn’t feel like my dreams.

Why wasn’t the life I was living giving me the abundant joy that I thought it would? I was supposed to find myself through a sincere “gift of self,” but somehow I felt like I was losing myself. I felt sad and lonely as a young mother. Was it just the “baby blues”? What was this thing? This persistent feeling of unhappiness, the problem that has no name.

I feared to speak of it to other Catholic moms because I thought that they would judge me. I expected a firm rebuke: “Offer it up, already. Don’t you realize this is motherhood? God calls us to sacrifice everything!” and my poor sensitive heart couldn’t bear it.

One day I mustered up the courage to confide in another mom. She had six kids, and I desperately hoped that she could guide me. I didn’t even finish speaking before her eyes filled with tears. She nodded like she understood me perfectly and said: The modern way of life—its terrible isolation—is so  SO unnatural for moms. Read any novel written 100 years ago or older,” she said, “There’s always women joyfully surrounded by other women, children playing outside with the neighbor’s kids, a natural village. But today, those communities are gone. Moms today are largely alone.” 

Her insight instantly brought me relief. There wasn’t something wrong with me. There wasn’t anything wrong with motherhood either (contrary to the radical feminists!). But the deprivation of a natural village was a real deprivation. It was profoundly unnatural, especially for women who thrive in communion with others. It was like suffering an amputation and everyone pretending that everything was fine.

As a mom, you’ve been entrusted with a sacred mission. But as a modern mom, you’ve been stripped of the natural support that God originally designed for family life. Your back-up troops to support you on the front lines are no longer there. If you’re feeling the burden and sadness of that loss—it doesn’t make you strange. It just means that you’re human. 

But it also doesn’t mean that depletion is your destiny. Next week, I will share a few little tips that can make all the difference!

Proclaim the Genius & Share!
  • Thank you, Irene, for this very real picture of where we are. I love how you say we are supposed to make a gift of self but sometimes feel like we are losing ourselves.

  • I love your post. It’s funny because we have a “GroupMe” for our little Catholic School here in Lafayette.  I always love to share my favorite posts on there with other moms, and I get lots of comments of appreciation.  When I went to post this one- another mom had excitedly beat me to it, she said, “I know Mary normally shares these with us but I beat her to it.  Lol.  It’s a good one!”  I have to wholeheartedly agree, I can’t wait for part two.  I always tell moms the same thing, if you think about the old days women were surrounded by community – but today we are so isolated.  I know your message rings true for so many thank you for sharing.

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