I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while, but am just now coming out of the newborn “fog” enough to coherently string thoughts together. Jack will be 3 months old this week (HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?) and Lucy turns 2 next month (ALSO HOW?!). Anyway, one of two things happened this time around with Jack – either we COMPLETELY forgot how &$*%ing hard the newborn stage is, or Jack is a much harder baby than Lucy was.
Whatever the case may be (I’m quite certain it’s a combination of the two) we have struggled these first few months of Jack’s life. I mean REALLY REALLY STRUGGLED. You know, things like weeks on end of crying from 5-10pm (Jack would cry tooJ) and not being able to get him to fall asleep. That time we had to take Lucy to the ER and Jack to urgent care in the same week. Two sick children both needing Mommy. A dairy allergy that went undetected for far too long, which resulted in about ZERO awake time where he was content. I felt myself wishing he would fall asleep just so that he wouldn’t be crying in pain. And then an inadvertent dairy intake that started the whole cycle over again (Did you know that it takes like 7-10 days for dairy to get out of your system? Yeah me either). Nights on end of nursing every hour and a half. Do you know what it’s like to go to bed at 8pm, wake up at 6am, and only sleep for four hours? Parents – you do, because you’ve been there. The complete physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that only sleep deprived parents of newborns can understand. The emotional rollercoaster, filled with “shoulding” all over myself. “I should have fed him earlier, I should have taken him to the doctor, I shouldn’t have tried to go to the store while he was awake, I should have put him down for a nap, I should have made that friend wash her hands before holding him, I should have swaddled him with his arms in/out/by his sides/by his face/fist bumping, I shouldn’t leave him for 40 minutes so I can go exercise, I should I shouldn’t I should’ve… It’s enough to make even the most even-keeled person lose their marbles. And you know what, it’s all part of this journey of motherhood.
Yet, as I was commiserating with a girlfriend and fellow new mom this week, we both had a similar observation. When we would talk to people, including other new moms, we’d hear the same things – “Isn’t it so amazing?” “How in love are you?” “Isn’t it WONDERFUL?”
While my response is always YES, it’s Yes…AND A BIG FAT AND… Yes, AND it’s bat-shit crazy. And I feel like I’m losing my mind. And I question EVERY single decision I am making. And I miss my old relationship with Lucy. And I feel more mom guilt than I ever thought possible. And I lost the mail keys. And I cried on the floor yesterday. And I had to call my therapist. And I’m so exhausted I can’t remember where I parked my car (outside my house). And I am so freaking anxious about everything. And I can’t find time to brush my teeth. And I haven’t slept for more than three consecutive hours in three months. And I am so sad. And I can’t think about going back to work without a complete breakdown. And I showered with my clothes on today. And I miss my old life. And I am struggling. And I can’t find time to call my grandma. And I haven’t cleaned my bathroom in three months. And I miss talking to my best friend. And I feel so lonely sometimes. And the thought of putting on real clothes is still too much to handle. AND… it’s okay.
Those ANDs are REALLY important. They’re important because otherwise people think everything is going great, and that this parenting thing is a breeze. Those ANDs are important because there are SO MANY new moms out there dealing with the same crazy shit, who, without knowing about our ANDs, think they must be failing. They’re important because otherwise you might think what you see on social media is the reality of new parenting.
They’re important because they allow room for multiple truths. And in my experience, that’s really what parenting is all about.
Parenting is hard enough as it is, without also questioning whether you’re the only one who’s struggling.
So, to answer your question, we’ve really struggled these first few months…AND I love these children more than I ever thought possible. The English language doesn’t actually have words to describe the profound love I have for Lucy and Jack.
Parenting is hard AND it’s without question the most wonderful, beautiful, extraordinarily rewarding job I’ve ever had.
So go ahead. Next time someone asks how it’s going, share your ANDs.