Someone sent me a direct message on Instagram the other day saying "wow, you're so lucky to be so popular".
The thing is, you can have thousands of so called 'followers' on Instagram (I hate the term followers, btw) and still be a lonely person.
Just because you have a profile doesn't mean you're popular.
I am quite isolated. It's me and the kids, all day, most days. In the early morning and late into the night. Yes, I have a husband, and he's absolutely amazing. He's just not around as much as I'd like.
With my husband working very long hours, and no family around, it's all down to me. We've moved a lot, something which I'm thankful for as it's given us a lot of good times and life experience but that's not conducive to continuing friendships long term, not more than a few anyway.
I'm not sure if I have someone I could call on that would be able to drop everything to help me out. Well, I do, but not that sort of 'known all my life BFF' that knows all my idiosyncrasies inside and out and takes me warts and all, even at 2am with my saggy boobs hanging out and morning breath :)
And that's really scary.
It got me wondering - these days, have we lost a sense of community?
The saying "it takes a village to raise a child" obviously stemmed from somewhere. In the past mums raised their babies in communities together. And I'm sure that still happens. A lot.
But for me, and many other mums I know and chat to on Instagram, not so much. We are going it alone most of the time. Using our own best judgement. Making it up as we go along.
I guess though, on the flip side, you can still be surrounded by people and feel lonely. I know in the case of many mums with post natal depression, it can feel like there's no one that truly understands. You feel like you're going it alone, that you can't open up, that it's all in your head.
If you're lucky enough to have friends and family around you when you're becoming a mum and going through the first few years you're so lucky - cherish them with all that you've got,
If you're like me and quite isolated, this is what I've done to connect:
Connect online - If you're reading this, chances are you found me on Instagram or Facebook. I highly recommend chatting with other mums, via comments or DMs, on these platforms. It's funny, in a weird way I'm more comfortable opening up to strangers than some of my friends...anyone feel me?
You will also find a load of area-based Facebook groups where mums share info (i.e North Shore Mums etc). There are also several online 'mother's group' type apps (just do a search online).
Find a mother's group - even if you weren't put into one after bub's birth, for one reason or another (like me), join a playgroup, sensory classes or baby music classes. Just do a google search for one in your area, there are loads around.
Don't panic, because it will get better - in time, you will find people who you gel with and as your baby gets older there are loads more opportunities for social interaction.
Call for help - if you have concerns about your baby and are on your own, there are SO many help lines you can ring. I used the ABA's breastfeeding helpline a bit in the first six months, there is an on-call National Home Doctor Service and I've used Health Direct before for over the phone advice.
Don't feel like a nuisance - I always think that I'm going to be putting someone like my neighbour or my husband's friend's wife out by asking for a little helping hand. But you'll find they really don't mind, I'm sure they've all been there themselves!
Remember, we're all in this together and there ARE other mums out there who understand and can help!
PS if you live on Sydney's northern beaches and want to catch up for a coffee, let me know!! Haha #notevenkidding