Sometimes, being a mom is like being in a village. You wearily glance around the grocery store with a screaming baby in your cart, and you catch the eye of another woman. She gives you an encouraging little smile and slight shrug, and you know she gets you, and you don’t feel so lonely. She’s with you in that moment of personal hell, giving you that shred of comfort you so desperately need.

Sometimes, you sit back and relish in the fact that there are millions of other women around the world feeling exactly how you feel, experiencing exactly what you’re experiencing, and it’s magical.

But sometimes… motherhood is lonely.

Sometimes, you’re awake in the dead of night with a nursing baby, your husband snoring next to you, your cat curled up and snoozing by your feet, even your wild, childless friends long passed out, and you feel like the only person in the whole world who’s not asleep.

Sometimes, you look in the mirror, and you don’t even recognize the person looking back at you. Greasy, tangled hair, long overdue for a root touch-up; dark, sunken eyes; pale, hormone-wrecked skin that hasn’t seen the sun in weeks. Even your own reflection leaves you feeling lost.

Sometimes, you’re scrolling through Facebook with a baby attached to you for the third solid hour, and see your friends on a girls’ trip, or at your favorite wine bar, or laughing at an inside joke, and you feel like you’re the only one on the outside.

Sometimes, despite spending an entire day with another human glued to your chest, you feel like you’ve been in complete isolation. You haven’t spoken normal adult words, in a normal adult voice, to a normal adult human, and in fact, you haven’t actually done anything productive at all.

Sometimes, even though he’s sitting just on the other side of the couch, your husband feels a million miles away. Because who has the energy for a coherent conversation after a long day of shushing, bouncing, and rocking a cranky baby, let alone any form of intimacy?

Sometimes, motherhood is just lonely. And that’s okay. Because you know what? It’s also rewarding. And fulfilling. And exhilarating, and mind-blowing, and exciting, and about a million other synonyms for “amazing.”

Because even if it feels desolate and empty right now, it won’t always feel that way.

One day, your baby is going to look you right in the eyes and say “mama” and giggle, and you’ll know that baby was put here just for you, and you alone. And one day, your baby will stand up on his own, and stumble across the few feet in between you just to fall into your arms, and you will never feel more proud. These are the moments that define motherhood, not the lonely ones.

So to all the mamas out there feeling like the rest of the world has forgotten them: rest assured that it hasn’t. It’s still out there, waiting for you to return to it. This is just a season of life, friends. It’s a hard one, but it will pass, as seasons do.

In the meantime, remember your village. Remember all the other moms in the world who are feeling exactly how you’re feeling, and experiencing exactly what you’re experiencing.

We get you, and we’re with you.

This story was originally published on September 28, 2017.