If you spend any time on parenting pages, you’ll quickly learn there are a few phrases that are, well…discouraged. In general, it’s preferable to not comment on someone’s body (“Are there twins in there?”), time management (“What do you do all day?”), and family size (“You certainly have your hands full!”). I’m not a huge fan of “treasure these moments.” I know the years are short, but when the days are long, not every moment is a keeper.
Lately I’ve been thinking about another phrase I heard when my kids were babies, often from well meaning friends. When a mom is overwhelmed and their kid isn’t even crawling yet, we tell them to “just wait.” “You think this is bad? Little kids, little problems. Get ready sister, you have no idea how hard it gets.”
Instead of telling new moms to “just wait,” can we just… not?
Why did we get into the habit of saying this in the first place? Are we trying to share perspective or simply one-up each other? There are challenges and hurdles at every age, and with every child. It’s easy to dismiss the baby years when dealing with a toddler who runs away in the mall or a teenager with a broken heart.
Still, most tasks are more manageable without the hum of a breast pump in the background.
Lest we forget:
Babies take up a lot of brain space.
Simply leaving the house is a delicate choreography of diaper changes, dressing and feeding. Each pocket in the diaper bag represents something important to remember and pack. Guess how I leave the house now? I politely request my kids put on shoes until my screaming alerts the neighbors to put on their own shoes. Easy-peezy-mommy’s-screaming!
Sleep deprivation will mess you up.
Even if we don’t account for hormones, postpartum anxiety and depression (which we should), operating on little sleep makes it harder to manage stress, remember things, and function in general. If you don’t believe me, set your alarm for every two hours for the next week, then try to negotiate screen time with your tween.
There’s a language barrier.
As preschoolers, my kids communicate using words, gestures, and behavior. All are clues that help me to address and fix problems. Parents of babies don’t have that. Is she teething? Tired? Gassy? Upset about the gender pay gap? The world may never know.
You are responsible for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
When I had my second baby, I was shocked how much I had forgotten in the brief 2 1/2 years since my first. Babies can’t wipe a crumb off their face. They can’t pull their arms through a sleeve. Between burping and booger-wiping, there is no more demanding boss than a baby.
Moms of babies, I see you. That first year is physically and emotionally exhausting. When fellow parents tell you to “just wait,” it can feel dismissive and condescending.
The hard work will continue. No one can fully anticipate all challenges that lay ahead. But things do get a little easier once you can leave the diaper bag at home. For the time being, just remember to treasure every single moment.