“You’ll cherish these moments when they’re younger,” says a random stranger to me while I’m doing the groceries with my four children in tow; my youngest strapped to me in a sling, breastfeeding, while my toddler sits in the trolley helping herself to any and every item she can as we walk the aisles and my older two girls alongside me.
“I promise you’ll look back on these days with fondness,” says another stranger as I walk out of Bunnings with my toddler hauled over my shoulders after she had just had another epic tantrum on the floor.
“Enjoy it while they’re little, time is fleeting,” I hear from a relative as I collapse with exhaustion into the couch at a gathering, struggling to find words to describe just how bone-weary I feel.
If one more person says any of these things to me again, I am going to SCREAM.
We don’t have to cherish the hard times
What if I told you that I don’t want nor have to enjoy the hard times, the sleepless nights, the crying, the tantrums, the feeling of being stretched so much in every direction to the point of breaking, the constantly having someone on my boobs or in my lap, the toddler getting into everything, the baby always needing me?
Because I don’t have to cherish the hard times. Because they’re hard, and they suck. I don’t wish them to stay and I don’t want to prolong their departure.
And you know what? Not enjoying these challenging moments of motherhood doesn’t make me a bad mother. It doesn’t make me any less, it doesn’t make me weaker, it doesn’t make me inadequate.
In fact, it just makes me human.
Parenting is a struggle and it helps to be frank
I don’t need a gold medal, and I’m not asking for praise. I know I’m doing a great job and on the days I am doing a little less than awesome, I realise that things will more than likely pick up.
But sometimes just being able to talk frankly about how hard it all is makes me feel better. When I can be honest with others about how I am feeling and talk about the crappy, hard bits as well as all the amazing bits – it helps. They’re all part of the story, and they’re all valid. I shouldn’t have to feel the constant need to gloss over my feelings and beautify all the shit.
Isn’t it more detrimental emotionally to not be real about our feelings as mothers?
It just makes me feel inferior
I do realise that the people who make the type of comments that I hate are coming from a kindhearted place, I do, honestly. I know they’re trying to connect with me, to help me keep perspective and remind me of the impermanence of it all.
I guess sometimes it would be nice to hear some genuine empathy rather than some passive-aggressive throw-away comment that leaves me feeling a little inferior or like I should be coping better than I am, or enjoying it more somehow.
It’d be awesome to hear “It’s tough, but you’re doing it,” or “Hang in there, Mama!”
I’m looking forward to the future and that’s okay
So whilst pretty much nothing tops the feeling of a small child asleep on my chest, I am looking forward to the future filled with promise. I am looking forward to the days where my children can feed and dress themselves. When my body exists beyond a measure to sustain or serve them. Hey, I’ll even be happier when they can wipe their own butts.
But I don’t have to enjoy every hard moment while they’re little and really dependent on me. Because I’m human, and it’s hard. And it’s a part of parenting that I am looking forward to passing, as I embrace new challenges.