I’ve got one cracked nipple, one leaky boob, barf on my shirt, and haven’t showered in three days. It’s two in the afternoon and I just spent 45 minutes trying to settle my baby before army rolling out of her nursery like a ninja so I could go slam a bowl of cereal for lunch, only to notice I’m out of milk.
Hi! You might know me, I’m a new mother
In order to stay alive for the next few days, I must use the rest of my energy reserves to pack the car and enter society. And with this realisation, a blanket of dread settles upon me.
Can you guess what I’m guaranteed to hear at least once while I’m out
“Enjoy this stage! It goes so fast!”
I’ll think to myself; “I sure as shit hope you’re right because this infant is literally trying to kill me.”
Do people say these things to folks as they train for marathons? Do little old ladies line the streets holding signs that read, “Enjoy this!” “No Pain no gain!” “It goes so fast!”??? Yeah-no.
I get it, the (mostly older) women (likely, with grown children) at the shops are looking at me with glasses so rose-coloured that they may as well be staring through merlot.
My mother-in-law described breastfeeding as “blissful”
The only word I had to describe it was “hell”. Maybe in 30 more years, I might remember it more fondly too.
I get it. The people, with the comments, they’re well-meaning. Their kids have left the nest, they reminisce about the good old days. But as a new mother, I’m right in the shit.
Early days with my first baby felt like a game of emotional roulette. What would today trigger? Anxiety? Depression? Stress? I loved my baby, maybe too much, and had not enough left over for myself.
Memories of the tough stuff has faded
Ah, the gift of forgetting, as they say. Why else would any sane woman go back and birth more children. Maybe I’m looking through a glass of rosé myself, though still decades from a merlot.
We must remind ourselves that mothers are fragile in the early days, especially first-timers. Sometimes all they need is empathy, not strangers demanding they ‘enjoy’ every minute of ‘keeping a baby alive.’ I mean, I love my child more than anything, which is why I haven’t left her on a stranger’s doorstep.
Can’t I adore my kids and at the same time admit parenting is kind of a bum deal?
Maybe try telling a new mum it’s normal to find it hard. Tell her she is doing a great job, even if the baby is screaming as she fumbles with her wallet. Tell her to take her time. Tell her that it will get easier in some ways and harder in others.
I’m somewhere between the older woman at the checkout and the first-time mum. Soon I’ll be back in the newborn fog and maybe a smile from an empathetic stranger might be all the fuel I need to make it five more minutes without a breakdown.
So if you see me, “the new mum,” out in public, please don’t tell me to enjoy this. Maybe instead, tell me to keep up the good work.