"Oh, this stage is the best! Enjoy every moment, the time passes so quickly!"
By now you've probably heard this a hundred different times in a hundred different ways from well-meaning family, friends and even strangers in the grocery store. Comments like these used to make my head spin and start the feelings of inadequacy and mommy guilt bubbling up in my stomach. I would think of all the things I didn't particularly enjoy about being a new mom, all the things I may have done wrong and all the little things I'd already forgotten about or didn't get a picture of. I think this kind of talk about babies and motherhood doesn't do new parents any favors. Because guess what? The world doesn't suddenly slow down and become safe, softly back-lit and calm so that life looks like a newborn photoshoot and moms feel totally comfortable and confident all the time.
There will be moments you can't wait to finish and forget about. Memory is a funny thing, so I don't think that the people who tell you to "enjoy every moment" are intentionally trying to put extra pressure on new parents; they probably just have the luxury of having forgotten lots and lots and lots of the unpleasant bits over the years.
I love to see parents out there supporting each other and being real about the challenges of raising little people. I feel like I didn't let myself see and experience a lot of the little rewarding parts of being a new mom when I was so busy trying to make every moment perfect and memorable. So let's get real here.
The truth is, there are lots of hard moments.
Remembering to take care of yourself and give yourself time to heal physically and emotionally after birth is hard. Nursing is so, so amazing and it is also so, so hard. Dealing with everyone's advice and opinions is hard. Admitting that you can't do it all by yourself and asking for help is really hard. Making a million decisions every day for someone you just met is super hard. And the lack of sleep is probably the hardest thing of all, because it makes everything else so much harder! At the beginning it can feel like you're stuck in survival mode with no time or energy for anything else, but that's totally normal and that's totally OK.
You're doing the very best you can, and it's enough.
So here are some words of wisdom from a mommy who has been there and still remembers...
Please be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself, with your partner if you have one and with your baby. Remember you are doing an amazing job and no one will ever love that little baby like you do. Decide and then focus on what's important to you and your new little family. And each day, try to find just one thing, one smile or one moment that brings you joy. If you get the chance to write it down or take a picture, great. If not, no worries -- there's another beautiful, joyful parenting moment on its way to you right now.
Christine Marion-Jolicoeur helps moms create a family and life they love. She's a bestselling author, parenting coach and creator of the Joyful Parenting ecourse. Grab your free gifts for moms + updates at ChristineMJ.com/freegift