“I don’t miss that.” It’s said with a sympathetic smile as my toddler throws herself on the floor and screams her frustrations to the world. I’m able to breathe, remembering that my kiddo isn’t the only one to tantrum.
“Good luck! I remember how much that part sucks!” This encouragement is uttered as I rush my 3 year old to the potty because even though I just asked, she decided it was urgent as we reached the furthest possible point away from the bathroom. I’m reminded that I’m not alone.
“You’ve got this.” It’s the nurse in the NICU as I struggle to get my newborn to latch and begin to breastfeed. “Sometimes it’s hard in the beginning but you’re doing great. Can I offer a suggestion?” The baby begins to scream and I blink back tears of exhaustion and defeat as the nurse helps adjust us and finally my hungry baby is nursing. I’m grateful for the help, and even more grateful that she acknowledged that it’s hard.
“You’re going to miss this one day.”
This one stops me in my tracks, and guilt begins to rise up. I’m in the trenches of motherhood right now and my kids are running rampant through the store and I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m struggling with postpartum depression that often manifests as rage, and I’m barely hanging on until 3:30 when my husband gets home and I can breathe. I’m in the stretch of motherhood that requires my constant attention and near constant supervision.
I won’t miss the rage. I won’t miss the anxiety of never being allowed to let my kids out of my sight. Yes, I may one day miss their tiny snuggles, but not the daily struggles of not being able to communicate, trying to gently wean from breastfeeding, or having to constantly be right there in order to not feel like I’m neglectful.
I realize that all of these women were trying to help in their own way. Maybe for women who took to motherhood like a duck to water and didn’t struggle with depression, they truly miss the toddler and baby years.
It’s okay to not be okay right now. It’s okay to admit that sometimes motherhood sucks. You’re allowed to vent about it, because life isn’t always prefect, even though you want it to be.
If you see a mom struggling, encourage her that she’s doing okay or that you’ve been there. Try to remember that she’s in the trenches. She doesn’t want to hear that you have fond memories of tantrums. Realistically she realizes this is a relatively tiny part of her life, but the days are long and there are moments when babyhood and toddlerhood seem to stretch forever, especially when she can’t even use the bathroom alone.
Let’s work on encouraging and lifting each other up. Let’s start giving a helping hand instead of a guilt trip. And for the love of everything holy, let’s stop acting like motherhood is always beautiful.
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