Please stop telling me “It goes by so fast! Enjoy every moment.” You stop me in the supermarket, on my walking trail, at the Y, in parking lots, at family reunions, in my living room to tell me this. I know your intentions are good. I know the sight of a little baby and new mama brings a swirl of wonderful nostalgia back to you. But this small sentence is utterly meaningless and detrimental.
Let’s break it down. It goes by so fast. Let me tell you something: a new mother who is battling 100 different daily worries and fears about the health and happiness of her baby, herself, and her family is taking it one day at a time. And that day lasts foooooreeeever. We are exhausted. We are touched out. We are in need of a shower, some baby-free conversation with our partner, and a nightcap. We’d like this day to go by a little faster, thank you very much.
Next: enjoy every moment. This request is a) insulting and b) impossible. You try enjoying every single moment for the next 5+ years of your life, then add a crying baby to the mix. New moms are still humans. We have a full range of feelings that stretch from pure bliss to pure hell. Demanding that we enjoy every moment makes us feel like BAD MOMS when we lose it from time to time. Because as much as I LOVE my daughter, and LOVE being a stay at home mom, there is a part of every day where I wish I was someplace else, sans baby. And that’s ok.
There is a very strange fog that settles over moms throughout the years- I imagine its the same fog that is already taking the place of my labor’s pain in my brain. This fog makes other moms forget how freaking hard those early weeks, months, or years are with a new baby, and replaces it with a golden haloed memory of endless baby giggles and coos. If you are in that fog, let me remind you: being a new mom is 93% vomit and crying and and tired singing and sore nipples and WORRY (my god, the worry) and 7% snuggles and giggles. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it hard? Yes.
What we truly need, and is sorely lacking, is more encouragement and empathy. This is a thankless job we’ve signed up for. We want to know we’re not alone in this new world of chaos. We want to know that you’ve BEEN where we’re standing, and have come out the other side of it a little more haggard but still smiling. Here are some better things to stop and tell/ask me.
- Keep up the great work!
- Your baby looks so happy and healthy.
- Way to go, mama!
- How old is she/what’s her name?/she looks so strong!
- How are you feeling today?
- I remember X being hard for us, how is X going for you?
- My favorite part of being a new mom was X. What’s yours?
- Do you have a good support community?
- Are you getting enough help? I wished I’d had more of X when I was a new mom.
- How old is your baby and what is she going through right now?