I have a lot of mommy friends. I know that must come as a huge surprise to you! One of my mommy friends texted me this morning (because she has known me long enough to know that calling me leads nowhere). This friend is a new mom and her beginning days of motherhood have not been easy. I have always told people after they try to praise me for momming so many children, that I am a firm believer that momming is HARD. One, three, seven, nineteen: momming is hard. So this friend’s days (and nights) are currently hard. She texted because she had seen a post on Facebook, that I had also seen, and it had struck her much the same way this and others like it strike me. You may have seen one like it as well; it read:
If you think their messy room is hard to look at, just wait until it’s empty.
There are many variations of this phrase:
“If you think having an infant is hard, just wait till they can walk!”
“If you think having little ones is hard, just wait until they are teenagers!”
“If you think one is hard, just wait until you have two…or three…or four.”
“Stop wishing this season away, you are going to miss it.”
And so many more.
See, my friend texted me because in her hard, new days of motherhood, this “inspirational quote” was anything but inspirational. She needed to be able to hear from someone else that she wasn’t crazy for thinking that wasn’t helpful. No, no you are not crazy!
To all my friends in a different season of life who post, share and say thing like these, this blog post is not to attack you or hurt you! The original statement that prompted this post is not wrong, but it does not help moms of young ones. As all of my thoughts jumble around, I feel the best way to get it all out is to just share my thoughts one at a time:
- No mom, at any stage, wants to hear that it is going to get worse. That it is going to get harder. That it is going to hurt more. Would you ever look at someone who was going through a tough time in their life and tell them, “There, there. Just think, it’s going to get worse!” and then smile? As though it makes that moment of pain any easier? Then why do we do this to moms? When we are losing sleep with a newborn, struggling to breastfeed (because it is not the same for everyone), trying to make sure we do everything right, exhausted from chasing a toddler, tired of redirecting behavior, searching for sanity, guiding an elementary child through the realities of bullies and cliques, trying to help a child who has learning disabilities complete their homework night after night, trying to juggle kids and housework and work work and the other people in our lives; the last thing, like the very last thing we want to hear is that it is going to get worse. And hearing that, doesn’t make the present any easier! And in my opinion, it’s not even true. Every stage is different, but I simply do not believe parenting is on a gradient slope of increasing difficulty. Every stage has joys and difficulties. Let’s encourage moms through the difficult parts and remind them of the joys ahead rather than furthering difficulties.
- NO mom, at any stage, wants to hear that you have it worse than she does. I can remember being in the early days of trying to figure out life with twin newborns. I was low on sleep. I was a first time mom so I was obsessing about everything. Breastfeeding was not working, despite my every best effort and I had even developed mastitis. A fellow mom said to me in those days, “This is nothing, just wait until they are teenagers. It is so much harder.” I’d love to tell you that I told her how it made me feel and I moved on without it bothering me, but I dwelt on it a lot. Every middle of the night feeding (which was an ordeal of attempting, being unsuccessful, making bottles, giving bottles, changing diapers and swaddling, pumping, putting that milk away, and getting back in bed to try to sleep before they were hungry again which wouldn’t be long since my whole process took so long) I was thinking about how it got harder. And I was supposed to enjoy this. The worst part is that it felt like a comparison, and ladies (as I assume only ladies have made it this far in the post because of my repeated mentions of breastfeeding and what not), we do enough comparing as it is. Let’s not compare who has it worst in the parenting department. Talk about a way to steal the joy fast!
- Looking at their messy rooms IS hard. Having a newborn IS hard. Having a toddler IS hard. Having more than one child IS hard. Having any number of children IS hard. Having teenagers IS hard. Having an empty nest IS hard. Parenting IS hard. AND THAT IS OKAY! I dislike when people type in all caps needlessly, but I just did it. That is how much I believe that it is okay to look forward to nap time so you can just have a minute. It is okay to look forward to bedtime so you can rest and be at your best for them the next day. It is okay to think to yourself, “this is hard.” It is okay think, “I can’t wait till they grow out of this.” It is okay to hide from them…I may…from time to time. It is okay to need a break, a night away, a vacation. It is okay to feel tired, drained, near insanity. It is okay to cry. It is okay.
- I know I am going to miss this. Do you know how I know I am going to miss this? Because I already miss things. Every stage has beautiful moments that I will miss and I thank the Lord for pictures and videos and memories within my own brain. But there are still things I am glad to be past as well! I don’t miss breastfeeding two babies at the same time. I don’t miss when the babies would figure out how to get in their diapers and paint with poop. I don’t miss the days before one of my children grew out of daily evening fits that would have me sitting in the hall outside their door in tears every night because I didn’t know what to do. I don’t miss being a single mom and having to work so hard that I barely had anything left of myself to give to my kids. I will miss the beautiful moments with my kids, especially as they are now 7-fold, but that shouldn’t add a pressure to today. And that shouldn’t take away from the joys that await in the future.
- What do moms want to hear? My friend that texted me said, “What I want to receive from women who have gone before me-love, encouragement, and understanding that my current season is hard and that I am not alone.” I think she hit it dead on. Top 3 things moms need from older moms: love, encouragement and understanding.
When one of my besties got pregnant last year, I told her early on to slap me if the words, “just wait” ever came out of my mouth. I have seven children ranging from 4-14. I have had twins. I have girls and a boy. I have been a single mom and I have been a married mom. I have been a working mom and a stay at home mom. I have felt like a rock star and I have felt like a failure. I have some experience.
So now I say, Just Wait! It gets even better! If you are in a hard season, there are good seasons to follow. If you cried today, tomorrow is a new day. If you miss your kids, look forward to grand kids! If grand kids aren’t in the cards for you, find a young mom who is struggling and be there-honorary grandparents still receive the joy young ones bring. Mom, you are not alone. We are not alone. Let’s love each other. Let’s encourage each other. Let’s understand each other. Those things sure beat comparing, condemning and scaring any day. Ahh, just wait, Momma, so many joys lie ahead!