Empty Altar Essays: Lost And Alone


We don’t want to admit that we are living out an abusive cycle of motherhood. Some of us will say that mothering is hard, more of us will agree that our own mothers had it hard, but almost no one will look behind the altar and name the emptiness.

We are desperate to be seen as good mothers - to know that we’ve gotten it right. Modern motherhood is made up of judgment, competition, and vast quantities of information. We are more plugged in, but less connected. We have so much knowledge at our fingertips but we find less and less grace for each other. More than ever we are convinced that there is a right way to mother and we are more insecure than ever about our own journey.

Too many of us walk this road alone and the isolation is killing us.

Parenting was meant to be a communal act. Humans are primates and primates parent together. When we say that, “It takes a village to raise a child”, what we really mean is that no one person can do this alone and stay healthy and raise a healthy child. Yet so few of us live in true community with each other. Our families are scattered or are not supportive, we have neighbors, but not communities, and many of our online interactions are filled with judgment and shame.

There’s an idea that there is a perfect mother, that there is a right way to do this. There is more information at our fingertips than ever before about child development and psychology. There is more information about parenting styles and choices. There is more information about physical and mental health options for our families. We are overwhelmed with information and many mothers are lacking a true village with which to have conversations and in which they can seek advice and support. This leaves mothers to carry an ever expanding emotional, mental, and logistical load alone.

And the stakes are high, maybe the highest that you will ever encounter. Add to this the fact that you cannot know if you’ve made the best choice for yourself or your family in the moment. You have to keep making deeply impactful choices, daily, striving for an unreachable perfection with no sure roadmap.

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