Sometimes, motherhood can be lonely. Yes, that’s the truth. This beautiful, breathtaking, remarkable journey can also be this secluded, withdrawn, cocooned experience—accompanied by lots of crying and diapers and cluster feedings and sleepless nights and three-minute showers and sadness. 

And a mama so overwhelmed that she has close to nothing left to give. 

Related: Sometimes motherhood can feel really lonely

I remember those first few months of postpartum, the inevitable fourth trimester. My husband and I had just moved into a new house a few weeks before I gave birth. After our son arrived, surrounded by those walls are where I spent most of my time. And many days, they felt like they were closing in on me. Locking me away from a world that I believed didn’t care about me anymore. Just those walls and me and baby and my husband between his work hours and other responsibilities that took him away from home. 

Motherhood felt empty and dismal. Somber and gloomy. Those first few months, I felt less of a mother. Though I was loving my baby with every ounce in me and ensuring that he was safe and sound always, I felt so undeserving and unworthy and confused as to why I was feeling this way.

I withdrew myself from almost everything and everyone around me. I was too exhausted. I hardly reached out to anyone, always hesitant that I would become more of a burden. I put my phone on Do-Not-Disturb. I rarely ever wanted visitors—though I longed for human interaction and conversations full of laughter and a girl's day out and time alone with my husband.

The silence sometimes soothed me—and it broke me simultaneously. I cried more tears than I’d ever imagine I could carry. I had no idea that postpartum would be like this for me. And it crushed me. That after all these months of forming this child and awaiting his sweet arrival, I felt so helpless and isolated and burdened. I couldn’t recognize who I was. And so I didn’t want others around me to witness this mess that I had become. I shifted my focus to bonding with my son and constantly trying to settle my disheartening thoughts. But it was lonely. Full of so much noise yet piercing stillness at the same time. 

Sometimes, when you become a mother, you’re building a community from scratch.

I stayed in that melancholy state until I decided that something had to change. I wanted more. I needed more. More support. More conversation outside of consistent babbles back and forth with my baby. More communal experiences so that I didn't feel alone all the time. And so I had to become intentional. With finding my groove again. With opening the walls of my home—and also stepping outside of them. I started saying yes to hanging out with friends more. I started making plans for dinner dates or walks in the park with loved ones. My husband and I hosted family gatherings and I attended family get-togethers more often.

And suddenly, motherhood began to feel less lonely. I began to feel more loved and more supported. And once my cup started to fill up, I had so much more of myself to pour into others. Feeling more connected to myself allowed me to feel more present and connected to my son, my husband and my loved ones. And having much more of myself to offer brought me one of the deepest joys that I didn't know I was missing during those first few months. I had begun to feel the joy of community. And it transformed my motherhood experience.

Related: To the mama who doesn’t have a village

Because the village that surrounds you matters. And sometimes, when you become a mother, you’re building a community from scratch or just becoming more aware of those who are genuinely in your corner. No matter what the case is, the people around you are the ones who help to weave you together. Through all the good and bad. Through all the ups and downs of life.

Because our child needs to understand just how important community is and he needs more than just his parents who will guide him, protect him and love him in this harsh world.

The need for community has become so evident to my husband and I over the years, especially since having our little one. People we can laugh with. People we can cry with. People who will drop off tea when we’re all sick and in bed. People who can see us at our worst and still be willing to love us and walk with us. Those are the people who we want—need—around. And those are the ones we need in our village as we raise our son. Because our child needs to understand just how important community is, and he needs more than just his parents who will guide him, protect him and love him in this harsh world.

Related: How to help kids make friends, according to an expert

So now, we do more. My husband and I love preparing and opening up our home for others. We enjoy the process of cooking a meal and making our house a place for loved ones to gather around and fellowship. It brings us joy to hear their laughter and feel their lightheartedness as the heaviness of the world slips away—if even for just a moment. 

Because the knitting of our community matters to us. We want people to pour into and people who pour into our family as well. We want our child to grow up knowing just how loved he is, aware of the fact that these people will be by his side every step of the way.

Build those villages with your bare hands—and with your heart.

All types of relationships get hard after having kids. Marriages. Partnerships. Friendships. Familyships. But they are important. And every good thing takes work—lots of it.

As the proverb goes: It takes a village to raise a child. But it also takes a village to raise a mama and her family, too.

So lean on those around you. Build those villages with your bare hands—and with your heart. Because these are the people who your children will depend on to sustain them, just as much as they depend on you.