Enjoy it. It’s such an overused phrase, especially to moms of young children.
Though well intended, it can be laced with guilt – for the moms who aren’t sleeping, who have the baby blues, or postpartum depression; the moms who are struggling with breastfeeding and pumping and bottles and syringes; the moms who walked away from careers or lifestyle or both to be a mom; the moms who realize they really weren’t put on this earth to care for a baby – pass me a grade schooler instead; the moms who’ve lost themselves completely to kids; the moms who feel like they’re drowning; the moms who feel alone.
Hearing that they’re supposed to “enjoy it” shuts them right up.
They’re struggling. But they either aren’t aware of how badly they’re struggling – aka Survival Mode – or they can’t admit it. It’s confusing enough feeling that way about a baby that you really really wanted. About a baby that you love. And then you add this jumbled up mess of emotions to the equation?…
So when these moms run into people in public and are asked how it’s going, they’re unsure of how to answer. On the inside, they’re screaming, Was it this hard for you? How did you get through it? Will it ever end?!
But they’re so used to being told to enjoy it, and they really don’t want to appear as monstrous as they’re feeling. Watch for the telltale shrug or sigh before the mask – aka a smile – goes up. “Everything’s good. We’re good. Not sleeping much, but I guess that’s to be expected.”
They’re surviving this stage of life, and that includes conversation about this stage of life.
If you’re one of these moms and you feel like crap about yourself, that was me too. I get it. I understand. The baby stage was tough for me. (And I had a good baby. A good sleeper. A good eater. A good everything, and still, it was tough for me.) You aren’t an awful person for feeling that way, and you aren’t abnormal either.
I had one girlfriend – one – with a baby the same age as my son. She struggled like me. She felt like she was drowning too. In hindsight, our text conversations helped me get through it. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way helped.
My son’s now three and a half. I made it through. I greeted the toddler stage with open arms, because it was such a welcome change from infant-hood.
I’ll tell you something a little different about enjoying it: You don’t have to enjoy every single stage of being a mom. Realistically, you won’t enjoy every single stage.
Some you will enjoy naturally. Soak those up. When a stage hits that you can’t stand let alone enjoy? It’s okay. It’s okay. You’re not a monster and you aren’t a freak show. You’re in a shit show. It’s not you, and it’s not the cute, slobbering, smiling child – it’s the stage.
It will pass. It will pass.
And you got this. You’ve so got this.