Have you ever heard a story about the selection process soldiers undergo to join special forces? Ever notice how much it sounds like the birth/newborn phase??
We were put through extreme physical trials to the point where we were sick from pain and nearly passing out. After that, we were only allowed to sleep for 2 hours before we were taken through our next trial. We were pushed to our limits physically and emotionally, no sleep, our bodies falling apart. For weeks on end we were forced to carry on beyond the end of our physical limits, reaching in to a place we didn’t even realise was there to do what needed to be done. But the best feeling in the world was to get to the end and to realise that we’d done it. We are among the most elite military soldiers in the world.
Kinda nails the first few weeks postpartum right? Oh, except for the bit where it ends and we get to be elite soldiers. Our bodies heal (mostly), but the sleep deprivation, pushing ourselves beyond our limits emotionally and physically, and digging deeper down than we ever thought we could for that extra bit of endurance (and patience!) goes on for a looooong time.
I imagine the advice given to special forces soldiers is something along the lines of ‘It’ll be tough, but hang in there. You were made for this. You can do it.’
And what advice do we give to new mums?
'It'll be tough, but hang in there. You were made for this. You can do it'
To mums with newborns, fresh out of hospital, a look in their eyes that is equal parts elation, exhaustion and raw fear (what do I do now??), we give this little gem of advice:
"Enjoy every moment!"
Really? Every moment? Like, Every. Single. Moment?? Are you freaking kidding me??
The problem with this little nugget of advice is that most new parent's already feel pressure to do that, especially if they've spent a long time trying to conceive. They've been blessed with the thing they've been wanting so much, surely they should love every second of this precious little life? Argh the pressure!!
I’m having my second baby very soon and I can already tell you I will not be enjoying every moment. When she is waking every 2 hours to feed I will spend a good portion of those moments willing her to hurry up so I can go back to bed. When she’s crying non stop and I can’t for the life of me figure out why, enjoyment will not be my go-to feeling. When I try to put her to bed and she systematically vomits on every single set of bassinet sheets we have, again enjoyment will not be on the cards. When my boobs are killing me, she’s not latching properly, my body is aching, my hormones are going crazy and sleep is all I crave and the one thing that is completely out of reach, I’m telling you now I am not going to enjoy those moments. I don’t have to. And neither do you.
Because strong, true, long lasting love is not only forged in the giddy happy moments of heart bursting joy. Deep love is forged as we pour ourselves out for someone else. True love is tested and proved true when it costs us – sleep, freedom, patience. When we go the extra mile (or ten) to ensure our babies are safe and healthy and loved. When we forgo our own comfort to ensure theirs. When we have nothing left to give but give it anyway. When we know that we actually can’t give our bubs what they need at this time and we make the brave and vulnerable decision to ask for help.
It’s great to enjoy the good moments, but let’s face it, not every moment of motherhood is enjoyable. Some moments suck. Just because we don’t enjoy them doesn’t mean we’re bad parents. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. It doesn’t mean we’re doing parenting wrong. It doesn’t mean we’re ungrateful for what we have. It means we’re human. And no human being on this earth enjoys every moment of anything that lasts, no matter how good it is.
Parents are under enough pressure. Let’s not pressure them to ‘enjoy every moment’ as well. The moments are up and down, good and bad, enjoyable and awful. Just like everything else in life.
So next time someone tries to tell you to ‘enjoy every moment,’ tell them no. Tell them that ‘Some Moments Suck’. And next time you see a new mum, tell her too. ‘Some Moments Suck. It’ll be tough, but hang in there. You were made for this. You can do it. I’m here for you if you fall’.