Becoming a new parent is a crazy, wild ride. It is emotional and exhausting, but also amazing and exciting. I knew every moment wouldn’t be easy. I knew every moment wouldn’t be fun. I wasn’t completely prepared for some of the hard truths I’ve discovered in these first few months.
One of the hardest truths I’ve faced is the fact that you’ll lose some people along the way. People who may have acted excited for you. People that you felt close to and wanted to share this experience alongside. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, they stopped acting excited for you. They make excuses not to come see you or the baby with virtually no real explanation. Losing those people is painful, especially when emotions are already over the place. But, whatever the reason, some people don’t want to stay with you in this stage of life. It’s hard and it hurts.
The silver lining is, it does make you appreciate those who love and support you that much more. Similarly, even if you have an amazing support system, I’m finding the hard truth that sometimes being a mother is lonely and isolating. Sometimes it’s because you keep trying to find just a small chunk time amongst your new baby schedule that meshes with the schedules of friends and family. Other times it may be that the baby is extra needy, so you’re chained to the couch feeding, soothing, holding them as they sleep. You begin to wonder what the outside world looks like, because it’s felt so long since you’ve seen daylight. On those long, lonely days, it can feel like eternity before my husband arrives home from work. However, as baby gets older, it’s getting easier to figure out times we can go out and about. He doesn’t need quite as many stretches of the continuous feed, soothe, hold pattern. It’s become crucial to seek out other mommy friends and get out of the house, even for just a few hours a week. It helps deal with the moments of loneliness and isolation.
Another hard truth is that for all the people who love and support you, some of those people (and some strangers) will question your parenting. They’ll give you advice on how to do things the “right” way, which may be very different from your definition. Sometimes that advice and those questions make you begin to question and doubt yourself. It can hurt because you start to feel inadequate. The more it happens, the more you realize how much people just want to help, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. I’m learning to grow a thicker skin and not get offended by all of the advice. I stick to my convictions as long as my husband agrees with me and I know I’m not putting baby in danger. I’m learning to take the advice with a grain of salt. Even if they’re trying to be helpful, that doesn’t mean it’s right for me or my family. Nor is it truly a reflection of my parenting.
However, for all the times I stick to my convictions, I’ve learned the hard truth that you can follow every single piece of advice, you can read parenting books and articles cover to cover and it may not make one ounce of difference. We have tried numerous methods trying to get our kid to sleep through the night. Nothing seems to stick. It is frustrating and makes me feel like I’m doing all the wrong things. Especially when people with younger babies tell me their kid has slept through the night for weeks. As he’s getting older, he’s getting a little better. We have more nights with longer stretches. I’m realizing that doing things “right” does not equate to having baby responding immediately. Sometimes it just takes time (and a whole lot of patience and coffee).
Probably the hardest truth to face is the fact that there are moments when you will feel like a fraud. You will wonder why someone let you take the baby home from the hospital. You will think, “why did I want a kid?!” It is a fleeting thought, usually after a sleepless night as they are screaming in your face and you’re covered in spit up. Not all moments of motherhood are magical. In fact, at first, very few of them are magical. As he gets older, I’m finding it’s okay to admit that. For all the non-magical moments, there are a ton of really great ones that get you through it. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to admit that you don’t love every single moment of parenting. That was a hard truth to admit, but as soon as I did, it helped me enjoy the good moments that much more.
I am almost certain that I’m going to learn even more hard truths through each stage of life as a parent. The best thing I can do is face them and not let them consume me. The fact is, the hard truths don’t go away, you just find ways to cope with them. Or ways to not let them get the best of you. The hardest and most universal truth of all, no matter what age, is that parenting is hard freaking work. So cheers to all of the other parents for surviving thus far. The best truth is, we’re probably all doing a little better at this than we think.