Because not every moment is full of sunshine and rainbows
I have just been vomitted on. It’s in my hair and on my favourite sweater. And as I write these words, my four month old is staring at me intently, smiling. Mocking me really.
So, why write this now? Let’s just say I felt inspired.
I’m writing this piece out of honesty and from a place of admittance, which means that it might include a few thoughts that people, especially other mothers, are not expecting to read.
As parents, we are almost expected to constantly brag about our children — you’ll barely hear anyone talk about how lousy their night was or that their child is having trouble eating. That would be a big no-no in the parent hand book.
But as I thought about it some more, I decided that I needed to say the things that new mothers sometimes think, but don’t always say. I’m sure I could think of more than just 5, but it seemed like the right number to get my point across.
1. “Why won’t you just go to sleep?”
Yes, I’m guilty of this. Aren’t you? When I was pregnant people would constantly tell me that I would never sleep again — not in the first year anyway. I thought, “how bad could it be?” Bad.
We all take sleep for granted. How do I know you ask? Try staying awake for 30 hours straight and then you’ll be sorry. By the third week I couldn’t tell my arm from my leg I was so tired. Just a walking wet dish rag that was on-call 24/7.
It does get easier, but I don’t think I’m going to make up those hours until my daughter’s tenth birthday. Enough said.
2. “I’m never going to have fun again.”
Yes, I have actually thought this. When the fact that you have a baby sets in, things can get scary. I remember thinking that I was just going to be doing laundry for the rest of my life and that I should consider opening a baby laundromat for all the tired, helpless parents.
“Bring your babies’ dirty clothes, but keep the babies at home.”
I think parents have had this very thought in one variation or another when they first have a baby. What helped me was accepting that I was going to be busy for a period of time in my life, but that it would only get easier as the days went by.
And you will have fun. You’ll have fun every day — just with a new set of friends with completely different interests. I hope you like playing rocket ship.
3. “I can’t believe I’m responsible for another human’s life.”
I don’t think this thought ever goes away. There’s a point in which it keeps creeping into your head more often than you would like as a reminder to not screw things up.
I had a mini internal panic attack when I first came home from the hospital. A lot of “What if I’m doing this wrong?” questions kept lingering.
You can get away with not doing a lot of things when it’s just you. But as soon as a baby comes into the picture you realize that you can’t just put your arms back and go with the flow.
You’re a parent now, get used to it.
4. “I wish I wasn’t a parent today.”
I’m ashamed to admit to this one, but there were days — especially in the beginning — where I just wanted to be alone and free of any responsibility.
Things can get overwhelming fast if you’re not careful, which is why it’s important to talk to someone about it. If you need to have a cry, just let it all out. Chances are someone else is going through the same thing at the exact moment you’re having your meltdown.
Be aware that it’s happening and go from there. 9 times out of 10 it will settle and pass — but it’s a reality for a lot of people.
5. “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
You know that feeling when you decide to stop doing something because it’s too hard? Say you want to learn how to play the piano. You practice every day, but you’re just not getting it as fast as you would like. So you stop and move onto the next thing on your list.
The good thing about that example is that once you stop, you’re not ruining that piano’s shelf life or hurting its feelings. When parenting gets hard — which it will/is — you can’t simply return your kid back to the hospital. Could you imagine?
This one’s a difficult thought to deal with because when it creeps into your mind it’s as if you’re accepting defeat — no matter what it’s referring to.
It’s easy to understand why you might think that you can’t ‘do’ parenting. It’s tough. But the toughest jobs can sometimes be the most rewarding.
You can do this, and so can I.
So, how to feel about it
I think it’s important for new mothers to know that there’s nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever have in your life. And I’m no expert in the matter, but I do know that I’m human and will make mistakes. But who ever became the best at something without making a few mistakes?
It’s all a part of the process, and I for one will take those hundreds of tough nights if it means I can experience hundreds of unforgettable mornings.