Last week, I went to visit my friend who just had a baby. I took one look at her sleeping newborn: a perfect, sweet little girl with fuzzy hair and delicate features, and my heart skipped a beat and tears sprung to my eyes. She was so new, so tiny, so precious and innocent. And that smell. Oh, I just wanted to inhale her. I watched as my friend carefully picked up her little bundle, changed her cute little onesie with a monkey on it, stroked her belly and whispered to her. I thought of my “baby” who is almost 4 years old now and I felt a rush of sadness. I will never be in that position again, leaning over my new little one, kissing his smooth baby belly. My babies are no longer babies.
After washing and sanitizing my hands, and swearing on a Bible that I wasn’t sick, I held her. I touched her little head and easily fell into the back and forth sway that came so naturally. When she started to get hungry, I passed her back to her momma and I left.
On the drive home, I imagined my friend, walking around, baby on her breast, simultaneously picking up after her active 2 ½ year old, and suddenly, all the not-so-wonderful memories came rushing back. I had a 2 ½ year old when my second was born. I was in the exact same position as she is today. Those days, those weeks, those months…they weren’t all soft and smooth and gentle.
They were rough. And bumpy. And hard.
Really fucking hard.
Really fucking exhausting.
As time passes, an interesting thing happens. Time has a way of smoothing over the rough edges, pushing them down, while bringing to the surface the tender, desirable moments of that same time period. I remember the fuzzy newborn hair and tiny little fists and feet and yep, that smell. I think back on those days with a feeling of longing and nostalgia.
But the reality was much different than my filtered memories that have already been cleansed of the trying times.
The truth about caring for a newborn baby is that it is non-stop.
I am in a different stage of motherhood now. My kids have different needs. I’m now dealing with a defiant, strong-willed first grader who doesn’t want to do his homework and beats up his little brother, and a clingy preschooler who still won’t sleep in his own bed.
It is still hard.
It is still exhausting.
The expectation versus the reality of having children is wildly different. Every stage is a challenge and nothing at all like you imagined. Above all, it’s harder than you ever expected. There are so many parts of motherhood that just plain suck, and it’s ok to hate them.
Yes. It’s ok to hate it.
I certainly don’t hate all parts of motherhood; in fact, I recently told you that being a mother is my favorite part of me. And that is absolutely true. Becoming a mother is the single best thing that has ever happened to me. At the same time, there are parts I hate. To be honest, there are a lot of parts I hate. In that sense, motherhood is the ultimate illustration of contradiction.
I hate that I still can’t go to the bathroom by myself, or sleep through the night, or that I have to yell at my big boy for shoving his brother 79 times a day. I hate that I can’t sit down and have a cup of coffee or eat a full meal at the table. I hate playing Matchbox cars for hours at a time. I hate that I have to tell my kids to brush their teeth no less than 47 times. I hate that they are constantly arguing. I hate that they don’t listen to me.
And that’s ok.
So, my fellow momma, I’m here to tell you, whatever phase of motherhood you’re in, it’s ok to hate it.
You’re doing it right, despite (and maybe because of) the fact you hate parts of it.
Don’t worry. Time will soon smooth over those jagged edges, leaving only the soft, gentle, sweet memories for you to savor. Trust me.
In the meantime, give yourself permission to feel some sympathy for your tired, over-worked, stressed out self . It’s ok.