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Yes, Parenting can be a Lonely Journey

How is it possible to feel alone when you are constantly surrounded by people, indeed when you have little people even climbing on you? But parenting can sometimes feel extremely lonely and alienating. I often wonder how some couples can think that having a baby would bring them closer.

Raising a child together puts a lot of stress on the relationship. You think your in-laws were meddling a little too much in your marriage before? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

There are of course many beautiful moments in the journey towards creating a family, and you might actually even appreciate your own parents’ or in-laws’ involvement more.But it’s crucial to be aware of the moments you feel lonely, isolated and overwhelmed. Because that will happen. And when it does, it’s important to deal with those emotions.One way to do that is to prioritize yourself every now and then. Carve out some time for yourself and your hobbies. Set regular date nights with your spouse. I started going to the gym, which I used to despise before, because it was the only place I could put the music on loud (to drown out the voice in my head listing all that needs to be done) and simply focus on my body. It also helped me keep up with my children’s energy levels as they entered toddlerhood.

So go for a walk/run, meditate, join a book club and be sure to schedule it in so that childcare does not get in the way. Do it before the loneliness becomes overwhelming. You can often find the support that you need if you simply reach out and ask for it. In this journey, it’s also critical, to be honest with yourself. If you keep saying everything is fine or accept someone’s helpful meddling only to take out the stress it causes out on your spouse, that’s deeply unfair.

Most normal people will appreciate honesty if you keep it constructive and on the issue. Focus on the fact that people mostly really do want to help. And let go of the need to get everything done ‘your way’. The quickest way to feel isolated is to not let go. You’ll then feel that it’s all your responsibility, no one else understands, you need to do everything. This feeling can bubble out of control, especially as your body readjusts to the non-pregnancy mode which can easily take up to a year.

Trust me, I know.
On the flip side, if you don’t nip this in the bud, you may end up hurting people and spoiling relationships even when that was not your aim.
So be honest and let go of some of the details – it may be harder than you anticipated, but it will serve you well.
So what if the child is wearing odd clothes, eating at the wrong time, is being given a bath in water which is slightly cold. Go out, breathe, and enjoy parenthood and the village it takes to raise the child.

Dr Pooja Rana

Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Panchsheel Park