I don’t have rose-colored glasses (or rainbow ones, either!) on when I recall our time in Hawaii. I’m well aware that as much sunshine and rainbows that were there, it wasn’t in all the moments.
There was red dirt that ruined all of our clothes. The August heat and lack of air conditioner made me consider skipping the island before we’d hardly had the chance to know it. The traffic is insane. The cost of living is outrageous. Rats and cockroaches are a thing. Legitimately. And have nothing to do with the cleanliness of your home. And the house itself? It was 800 square feet for a whole lot of us.
But, you know what else was there?
We had a huge yard with a coconut tree (home of said rats). So we had fresh coconuts at our disposal. A plumeria tree in the front of our house that was perfect for climbing and swinging. And the view? That view of Diamond Head and Waikiki was killer. With a weekly fireworks show just for us that we could watch out our living room window on Friday nights.
We were always hiking and climbing and playing. And the beach. I didn’t think I was a “beach person” until living in Hawaii. Until that was a part of our daily lives. I crave the ocean now. The waves, the sea salt, the sand between my toes. It visits me in so many of my dreams now that I know its woven into the threads of my soul whether I like it or not.
But the best part? It was the community. The people. The ones I knew and loved intimately and the ones I passed in the grocery store. The uncles who sang songs to my fussy toddler while we waited in the grocery line, or slipped him a piece of candy. The aunties who watched my kids at the beach as vigilantly as I watched theirs, and loved mine nearly as much as I love them myself. The people who made motherhood a beautiful experience even during the most challenging of times.
The mommas who passed clothes and shoes down onto my kiddos, who piled into tiny houses with gaggles of kids running around, who broke bread and fed each other and never questioned or expected anything in return, even though it often came tenfold.
Not once in Hawaii did the sentiment of “motherhood is lonely” cross my mind. And that had been the only sentiment of motherhood that had been steadfast from the moment I brought my first baby into this world.
I thought motherhood was meant to be done in isolation. I thought it was a sacrifice you made. You spent your days alone, with your children, and that was that. If you wanted to be with your children you didn’t get to have anything else. Know anyone else. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, you know?
And that’s how it is here. That’s what I know best. Occasional dinners with friends, but not the daily friendships and community of mothers working together. Teaching, raising, disciplining, loving all their children together in a community where no one is ever alone unless they wish to be.
I think I would have been content if we hadn’t lived a different life, a different way. I think if I’d never known that it could have been different, I would have made a way to be at peace with the way our modern, western society says motherhood must be.
But I know. I know different now. I know better now. I watched not only my children, but myself thrive in a different way of life. And once you go from thriving back to just surviving, it’s soul crushing.
Don’t get me wrong, we don’t sit around lamenting what is no longer. Not all the time anyway. It’s in the small moments that it’s so evident what we’re lacking. And in those small moments when I find myself struggling to help find ways for my children to best thrive in this life scenario, without also teaching them that I agree with the livelihood or lack thereof that is the rat race; the “keeping up with Joneses.”
Motherhood is weird. A time and place where you have so many thoughts and so many desires, and at the end of the day they don’t matter because the focus and intent is so centralized on what is best for your children in order for them to thrive and grow as well-rounded, happy, empathetic humans (as it should be, and the only way I would have it be).
And sometimes, depending on where you are, that just means that motherhood is lonely.