She turns four in a few days. My younger child, my little Lady, will be four. Every year another birthday comes, she grows a bit older and for a fleeting moment, I’m sad. Then that moment passes as I quietly run the mental list of milestones met that year -milestones towards independence, both hers and mine.
This year, however, this fourth year, I’m quite despondent. My brain is smart enough to recognize that I don’t want any more children; that I already have my hands full with the ones I’ve got. My uterus, however, is screaming in agony, “I’m ready when you are!! There are plenty of babies I can still carry.” My heart falls somewhere in the middle, longing for that wonderful feeling that comes with bringing new a life into the world, while simultaneously, becoming tachycardic at the thought of the effort that takes.
I have read about this feeling before, the despondence mothers can settle into when the realization that the pregnancy and baby chapter of their lives is forever shut. I never understood it until now. My lifelong dream was fulfilled when I became a mother, so, yes; it is heartbreaking to think that I will never again experience the euphoria of holding my new baby for the first time.
If I allow myself to admit my true feelings, some of this devastation comes from the understanding that I missed out in some ways. Almost everyone was spewing advice when I became a new mom, but one sentiment was unanimously spoken: enjoy every minute of it, it goes by so quickly.
I will admit, after hearing that three or four times, it became all I could do not to punch someone when they said it. What the fuck were they talking about? Man just disconnected the cable for the third time today, Lady refuses to nap, both of them are teething and will not stop fussing, and I am a prisoner in my own home, a prisoner to my babies!!! How could I possibly enjoy this? I just want to move through this phase of their lives and get to the smooth road ahead and all these dumb-asses want to tell me is to enjoy it because I’ll miss it when it’s over! Idiots…
Well, those idiots were right! I do miss it! These two little people had made me a mother, something I had always wanted. Of course, a simple smile or giggle could melt my heart. As they learned to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, and run, my heart (and body) leapt with joy as I recorded their accomplishments. They called me mama, and told me they loved me even if I put them in silly outfits or hadn’t changed their diapers in a timely manner. They made me into an entirely new person; this is a gift no others could give. Yet, somehow, at times, I let a shadow settle over that knowledge. In those moments, I was often so tired, frustrated, scared, confused, frazzled, and hormonal that I didn’t stop to recognize that in addition to that, they brought me more joy then I had ever known.
A friend of mine recently had her third baby (D!). In that last week of her pregnancy, I felt compelled to tell her one thing- enjoy these last moments of pregnancy, for they are truly your last. You’re tired and ready to get the show on the road, naturally. At this time especially, don’t forget to take pleasure in feeling him kick, knowing that it’s just the two of you for only a few more moments. Take as much pleasure from these last moments of him being inside, as you will take from a lifetime of him being on the outside. Make sure to celebrate these last days of pregnancy, ever.
So, new moms, I will do the same for you, as I am no exception to the endless list of people who want to bombard you with advice. I will say what wise women told me- enjoy it! Yes, yes, I too have drunk the Kool-Aid, but I’m going to go one step further and let you know how hard it is to actually follow this advice.
No one tells you how challenging becoming a new parent truly is. It’s supposed to be all rainbows and sparkles, bull shit. It’s hard and there are going to be a lot of moments when you wonder why in the hell you encouraged your husband to come near you with his sperm. It’s those moments that you have to learn to benefit from. The coos and goos, giggles and smiles — that’s the easy part. Revere those moments, for they will get you through the harder ones. During more complicated times, when you’re exhausted, cranky, frustrated, confused, sad, and even unhappy, you must allow yourself the comfort of those feelings. It’s supposed to be hard; it’s hard for every mom. You are weeping the same tears of madness that thousands of other moms across the globe are shedding at that exact same moment. It’s only natural to love your new role as mom, but it’s also completely natural to not enjoy every moment at all times. Remind yourself that for every perfect day of parenting you might have three days of horror that follow – and so does the mom next door.
The more challenging moments of parenting
Without those harder moments, the breathtaking ones would merely be sort of “meh”. Happy times are even more joyous after you have seen how tough it can be as well. As you move into becoming the parents of “young children,” it’s both the most incredible and the hardest moments that got you there.