I went for a run today at lunch. (It was ugly and glorious at the same time, but that isn’t the point of this post.) When I was finished, I de-grossed myself in the locker room at my office.
As I stepped out of the shower, I overheard two women talking. One of them was clearly pregnant and the other one has two small children. As you might expect, the woman with kids was giving first-time mom all the advice she could spare. Which was a lot.
The advice was, shockingly, not bad. Among these nuggets of wisdom were:
- Don’t feel bad about dropping your kid off at daycare. This doesn’t make you a bad person.
- Only allow people to visit you if they promise to bring you food. (Ha! I wish I had thought of that one…)
- You and your child may not be able to breastfeed. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing it.
- Someday you will sleep again.
- When you’re on maternity leave, plan to meet with adults. You can’t baby talk all day.
I just had to join in the fun, didn’t I? Because. Well, I have a big mouth.
“And then there are times when it is fine. I mean, I didn’t have any problem breastfeeding and my kid has slept through the night since he was 3 months old.”
No one ever wants to hear this. I’m not kidding, people have told me that I shouldn’t mention it because other moms will hate me. (Direct quote. For serious.) The moment I said it, I realized I do kinda sound like a dick. I’m not trying to brag, honest. I won the sleeping baby lottery, and I know that.
The point I was trying to make is this: I spent a lot of time worrying about things that everyone told me would be awful… the not sleeping, the hours of breastfeeding, the crying, the projectile bodily fluids. In retrospect, I worried about a lot of things that never actually happened to me. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have challenges. But I also think so many new parents spend their time focusing on the horror stories– what could go wrong– that we don’t realize that it is entirely plausible that parenting a newborn isn’t 100% sucky.
I also don’t want to imply that when things are hard, they aren’t waaaaay hard. Layer on hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and a tiny human being that literally needs you to survive… Yeah, that can turn into a shit show. There are times when I didn’t eat for 6 hours because Chick’s needs came first. There are times when I cried crazy chest-heaving sobs because it all felt so hard.
Perhaps what I was really saying was that parenting is hard, but it isn’t always the same hard for everyone. It doesn’t do anyone good to start convincing themselves that all the “bad” things will happen to them. Sometimes it actually will be okay.