“Nobody told me there’d be days like these,” sang John Lennon.
As a new parent, there are all kinds of days. And all sorts of nights, but that’s another story …
Once I’d moved on from the foggy days of early motherhood, I identified the kinds of days that came around with surprising regularity. Giving these days a name helped me cope with them.
Here are five days that nobody had told me about:
1. Backwards before forwards days
These are the days where nothing goes to plan and every moment brings another setback.
My ultimate backwards before forwards day was my hubby’s first day back at work after the birth of our second child. As he left, I was feeding our little one, while our daughter played at my feet. From the outside, the scene probably seemed peaceful and idyllic. Moments after the car pulled out of the driveway, my baby did a massive milk-vomit, drenching himself, his sister and me.
We all needed a bath and a hair-wash – a big deal seeing this was well before 9am in the middle of winter, with me still moving gingerly after a caesarean. I was close to ringing my hubby and asking him to come home. Instead, I took a deep breath, realised that it was going to be a backwards before forwards day, and started running the bath.
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2. Cry together days
When the nights were hard, the kids were needy, and the support was low, crying was sometimes the only thing to do. Once I had two children, I spent an inordinate amount of energy trying to make sure my kids didn’t cry.
The first time I failed – both my kids were howling in harmony – it was surprisingly liberating. The worst had happened, and I had survived. “I can’t go any lower than this,” I thought, but of course, I could, and it wasn’t long before I joined in. Cry together days were born.
3. Deetz days
You will have to find your own name for this kind of day, as this one is named after one of my daughter’s nicknames (Sweetsums-Deetzums, if you must know!).
Deetz days became my name for days when I shelved all ambition other than being with my daughter. Forget washing, making phone calls, grocery shopping, or sorting out the pile of hand-me-down clothes. Just her and me.
Sometimes I declared a Deetz day as a way of recovering after a backwards before forwards day. It is always hard to put aside the dross of everyday life but having a name for helped encourage me, every now and again, to do just that.
4. Groundhog days
This one is named after the movie, in which Bill Murray stars as a man who gets stuck in a cycle of repeating one day of his life over and over again.
Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll instantly recognise this day. Endless cycles of feeding, settling, changing and cleaning, It’s not just days that are repetitive – you can have groundhog hour or even groundhog five minutes.
Occasionally, elements of a groundhog day were fun. I remember weeks where, every day at 3:20pm, I would wake my daughter from her afternoon nap by turning on the TV loud. I would then giggle to myself as she ran down the corridor calling: ‘Bananas! Pyjamas!’, desperate not to miss her favourite show.
At other times, groundhog days are soul-destroying, especially when circumstances like bad weather, illness or sheer fatigue make breaking the cycle impossible. On these days, having a name for the experience helped – even if just a little.
5. The I’ve got this day
Every now and again, I would have an I’ve got this day. Sometimes I felt like I had achieved some small level of success – maybe nailing how to distract my toddler from an approaching tantrum, or finding that I could breastfeed one child while playing a game with another.
I remember one of these days when I felt so on top of things. I ran into a work colleague while shopping, and I found myself feeling guilty afterwards for having such a nice time while on maternity leave.
Murphy’s Law, challenges and the continually changing nature of babies and kids mean the I’ve got this day will come around less often than you’d like. If you get one, quietly give yourself a high five and enjoy it!
When asked about the meaning of the John Lennon song Nobody told me, Yoko Ono said it’s to do with: “Starting to learn that life is always gonna be a mystery.”
John Lennon’s second son, Sean, was a baby when this song was written, so maybe it’s not surprising that the final line reads like it was written for new mothers everywhere: “Strange days indeed … most peculiar mama.”
What other types of days have you had with your baby or toddler?