Oh my sweet Harrison. You my love are a difficult one. I love you nonetheless, but child you wear me OUT.
Everyone always talks about how magical and amazing the newborn age is, the first few months, the baby stage. Let me just cut to the chase here, it might be sweet and cute and all that but I can’t be the only mom out there who struggles like heck through this phase.
With my first, James, it was HARD especially as a first time mom. It wasn’t all rainbows and lollipops, not even close. It was a lot of tears and wondering how there was ever going to be a life beyond nursing a baby every 2 hours with painfully cracked tata’s that made me wither in pain every time. A life beyond no sleep, changing diapers, doing laundry (or lack of clean laundry), taking an hour or more to get out of the house, smelling like spit up, wearing baggy pants and my husbands t shirts, messy buns….you get my point. It felt like my life was over and just beginning all at the same time. Now, people who are blessed to get angel babies who do nothing but sleep, eat, and coo probably don’t see eye to eye on this matter and they are the ones who impress on all of us that baby life is a state of nirvana. Don’t listen to them.
I can’t get over all the social media posts of moms who put on the facade of perfection. Sorry, but just no. As I was scrolling the other day a mom posted about wanting to wake her baby from their nap because she missed said baby. Are.you.serious. Wake your child from a nap? I can’t even. Sure I get having to wake a child at times when you have a legit reason to do so! But girl, come on let that child sleep and do something for YOU. My child fought sleep for 2 hours this morning and when I did get him to sleep he slept 20 minutes. Did I miss him in those 20 minutes? Ummmmmm.
Posting pictures and pretending that there is no hard parts of having a baby. Lies. Before you have a baby someone needs to be honest, and if you already have a baby or babies can we all just please be honest with each other?
The truth is, there is a lot of mom guilt when you have a baby. Guilt that you aren’t cuddling them enough, guilt that they are crying and you can’t stop it, guilt that you just want to sleep and so you pray they will fall back asleep for just a little bit longer, guilt about wanting a break, guilt about not feeding them perfectly balanced meals, guilt about meals that only consist of dry cereal, m&m’s, and apple juice, guilt over not feeding them organic everything, guilt over too much tv, guilt over not being the fun crafty mom. There is so much guilt. It’s exhausting just thinking about all the ways I”m not the perfect mom.
Basically, I feel most guilty that I don’t love the baby phase. I can remember when Harrison was 8 weeks old and a woman asked me how old he was. Her response was “Oh that’s just the best. That was my favorite season of motherhood, 0-3 months. That newborn phase is just heaven”. I gave her a friendly smile and she walked away. As I watched her walk away I was struck with guilt and the smile slowly faded. I muttered something to myself along the lines of her being the crazy one, or that she must’ve had very easy babies. Or come to think of it now, maybe she just has the patience of Mother Teresa. It was then I almost felt validated thinking that maybe it is okay to have enjoyable, and not so enjoyable seasons of motherhood. Maybe it’s okay that I don’t love the baby phase, and that other mom’s might not either. As a mom you feel like you should enjoy it all and if you aren’t then you’re a bad mom. It’s impossible to love it all, right? Maybe some moms absolutely love the newborn stage. Maybe some, like me, absolutely love the toddler stage. Maybe others love the elementary age, or the teenage years. Maybe I won’t have a favorite phase, and I’ll love every stage differently for so many different reasons but I won’t know until I experience them all. All I know is I have gone through the newborn phase twice, and I kinda suck at it. (Don’t worry, my kids are fine. They’re healthy and fed, clothed, diapered, clean, and happy I just have less hair and tighter clothes.)
It’s easy to look ahead and want to get to the next step of what’s to come. Two days ago I took a second look at Harrison and realized he has TEETH. He is four months old. I don’t even remember when James got his first teeth but holy cow, he has teeth. I suddenly had mom guilt about how frustrated I had been with his fussiness over the last week. Teething crossed my mind for a second but I brushed it off because I just thought it couldn’t be. Well, I see you teeth, and I was wrong. It was a sudden reminder that this all happens so quickly, and it seemed like he got a year older overnight just from looking at those teeth. Honestly, I am excited for Harrison to sit up on his own, crawl, develop his little personality and learn about who he is. I am excited for him to be able to start playing with his older brother and watch their relationship unfold. I am excited to not be up at all hours of the night. I’m excited to not be consumed during the day of trying to help him fall asleep because he hasn’t quite mastered the skill himself. I am excited to not know why he’s crying and not know how to help him. I am excited for him to outgrow his acid reflux and not throw up his bottles or be in pain. Does all of that make me a bad mom? No, I’m starting to think it just makes me honest and human.
As a mom to a newborn you put in so much stinking work and your reward is sleep deprivation, getting pooped on, peed on, thrown up on. You’re keeping a human alive and they’re not doing much to thank you for it until the first smile and giggles, those are awesome. When they make eye contact and grin from ear to ear. That is magical. And although we are past the “newborn” phase, I am excited to enter milestones that make parenting so rewarding.
I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it too. I’ll miss it all. I’ll miss the snuggles, and the baby smell. The cuddling and the babbles. The cuteness and the toothless (or two teeth) grins. I know I will. And someday I’ll look back and it’ll make me cry and get teary eyed remembering all at once how it went entirely too fast yet so slow at the same time, and why I couldn’t have just enjoyed it more than I did. I’ll think to myself how much I miss it and want it back and remind myself it was so hard, all the while forgetting how hard it actually was. I know all of this because I’ve done it once before. James was such a hard baby that didn’t sleep and was so particular about everything, his brother is much the same way. But now, James is the most fun and I can’t get enough of him. I can handle toddler tantrums, arguing with a two year old, and making meals he won’t take a single bite of far better than I can handle a fussy, teething, cranky, sleep deprived baby. Watching his older brother become a little boy is the best feeling in the world. I’m so excited for that with Harrison. I’m so excited to hear what his voice will sound like, his laugh, what his quirks will be, what his favorite toys are, the silly things he will say and do. It makes me giddy just thinking about it. When it’s but a memory in the past I will be sad because we don’t get a do over with our babies. They have one child hood and we only have one season of motherhood. It’s bittersweet, it goes fast and slow all at the same time.
I’m going to try to cut myself some slack. It’s okay to not win at every part of being a mom. I don’t want to pretend I’m nailing it, I fall short most days. I will try to remind myself that this will pass in the blink of an eye and therefore I will have more patience, slow down and enjoy the moments but it doesn’t always work. I lose my patience. I’m exhausted and beat down. I’ll try not to feel guilty about the fact I don’t love the baby phase. I’ll admit to myself it’s hard for me and that’s okay. There will be other hard seasons too, but joy in every season. It’s no secret our babies are only babies once. There are some times that makes me want to cry, but there are other times I am thankful this baby phase is short. That doesn’t make me a bad mom, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for saying it, but I do. It’s the truth. Have you ever seen an instagram picture of a first birthday without the hashtag “time please slow down” or “where did the time go” or the mother posting a bazillion cry faces? We’ve all see them and while I totally understand the feeling completely, I don’t typically say it. It’s not because I’m not sad that time goes fast and my babies are growing up, and yes maybe I cry a little. But, I think on Harrison’s first birthday my proud hashtag will be “we made it!” rather than asking time to slow down, because although I will tearful that the first year is but a memory, one year will feel like such an accomplishment. There is so much to look forward too and I know how rewarding it is.
There are things I love about him being a baby. I do love the cuddles, and his ginormous smile. I love listening to him babble and watching him chew on his little toes. I love watching the look on his face when he carefully watches his brother. I love that last night he calmly fell asleep in my arms and I rocked him a little longer because he typically fights me tooth and nail. I love that I am his mama and God entrusted him to me for a reason, and I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for this little guys life.