I realize that I’ve only been a parent for a few months shy of three years, but in those three years I’ve learned quite a bit. I’ve learned how to breastfeed. I’ve learned how to not get peed on while changing a diaper. I’ve learned that parenting ideals sometimes fly out the window in the face of toddler meltdowns. I’ve learned that motherhood is the most worthwhile endeavor I have ever and probably will ever undertake. I’ve also learned that it’s the freaking hardest.
I’ve had moments … entire days and occasionally even weeks where all I thought was: “What the hell did I get myself into?” It’s not like I thought parenting would be a cake walk or anything, but it’s definitely more challenging than I envisioned in ways that I couldn’t have possibly anticipated.
Because of this, it drives me absolutely batty when I hear people tell new moms to “cherish every moment” and that it “goes by so quickly!” Ugh. No.
Now, before you go thinking I’m a total parenting advice grinch, just hear me out …
After three years of this parenting biz, I really do realize that it’s all flying by at lightning speed, and I’ve no doubt that things just keep racing ahead, but the thing is … some days it really doesn’t feel like it. It feels never-ending. It feels like you’re never going to get any sleep, or have sex, or brush your hair, or just feel normal ever again.
Some days it feels like your baby hates you, or that your toddler is purposely pulling out her very best a-hole antics in the most publicly humiliating ways. Some days it’s so loud you can’t hear yourself think over the crying and whining and screaming and all you want is five minutes of absolute silence.
It’s OK not to cherish those moments. Sure, maybe WAY down the road I’ll have a slight twinge of missing the sleepless baby who insisted on nuzzling up in my bed and stealing all the space. Maybe I’ll have some perspective and be able to look back at the sweetness of a snuggly baby instead of the feeling that I just might die if I don’t get more sleep. I get it. But, when you’re a new mom, you don’t have that perspective because you’ve never done this before.
When you’re a new mom the sleepless nights make you feel like you really might die. The indecipherable cries feel completely overwhelming. Your relationship with your significant other, while stronger in a new way, also often feels like it’s hanging by a thread from the lack of time to connect. Some days you feel like you seriously might have a nervous breakdown.
And then you go to the grocery store (looking a hot mess by the way) and a woman there looks sweetly at your baby in the cart and says, “It goes by so quickly! Make sure to cherish every moment.” Or you go on Facebook to rant about sleep deprivation and nursing woes and are met with the same “you’ll miss this one day” type of comments. While these comments come from a good place and you really may look back on these moments with fondness one day, it doesn’t help to be told that when you’re in the throes of things. It can make you feel invalidated and honestly like a failure.
It’s OK to not cherish every moment. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It just makes you human.
And as much as I really do look back and miss some of the middle-of-the-night pow wows with my daughter during her baby days, it’s only because I have some perspective now … and OK … a little bit of distance to help romanticize the situation if I’m being honest. Which is why I refuse to tell new mamas to cherish every moment. Cherish the sweet ones and exercise patience during the challenging ones. You’ll get through this eventually. It might not “fly by” when you’re in the moment, but there’s a light at the end of that tunnel. I promise.