Plea From New Mom to Veteran Moms: Please Don’t Tell Me It Gets Harder
My daughter was about 6 weeks old when I was talking to a family friend about how things were going. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t going well. “I haven’t slept for more than an hour at a time in weeks,” I told her. “Today was the first time in three days that I showered. I ate only a granola bar yesterday. My c-section scar is still healing, I’ve been wearing adult diapers for over a month and it still feels like all my organs are going to fall out every time I stand up. I have no idea what I’m doing. This is really freakin’ hard!”
That’s the first time it happened. She turned to me, seemingly amused by my struggle, and said, “Ohhhh sweetie, this is the easy part! Just wait. It gets so much harder when they start teething. Or walking. You’re in for it!” She chuckled, took a sip of her wine while her much older children played independently and gave me a knowing smile. As innocuous as the comment may seem, it really made me feel like crap. Like a wuss. Like I was on the bunny slopes struggling to stay on skis while all the other moms were out there killing it on the black diamond.
And it wasn’t an isolated incident—these types of exchanges with other moms felt constant, and I just got more and more frustrated. I couldn’t be the only one struggling to survive with a newborn. At one point even the most experienced mom has been a first-timer, and surely she could empathize with the things I was going through—the anxiety, the absolute exhaustion, the dehydration, the forgetting to eat, the lack of time even to pee and the intimidatingly steep learning curve associated with taking care of a newly born human. Aren’t I in the mom club now? I birthed a child and I have the scars, the puffy eyes, the messy bun and the baby to prove it. So when do I get any kind of support or commiseration from my group of fellow mamas?
To the veteran moms out there: You are all rockstars in my eyes. You’ve earned your stripes. You should all have Purple Hearts, Medals of Freedom or at least an all expenses-paid spa weekend with copious amounts of wine and cheese and naps to commemorate what you’ve done for your kids. I know you know a lot more than me, a brand-spanking new, totally inept mama. I know all of this is old hat to you. I know you’ve been there, done that—mastered the swaddle, got rid of the gas, knocked out that diaper rash in less than 24 hours—and you probably wrote the book on the ever so complex rock-and-swing move combined with the simultaneous not-too-quiet but not-too-aggressive shush to get a fussy, overtired baby to sleep.
I want to learn from you. I want to ask you all my questions and I want to know about your experiences. But more than anything, I really, really need your positivity and your support right now. I need you to honor the experience I’m going through in this moment as a new mom. I know you’ve been there. Can you remember how it felt, with a new baby, scared out of your mind that you’d do something wrong and your kid would suffer for it? Or how embarrassing it was when you’d struggle with your crying baby in public, afraid the other moms at the park would judge you? Think back to the emotions and the absolutely crippling sense of vulnerability you were feeling, and really try to put yourself in those shoes again.
Then, I need you to tell me that you know how hard it is. I need you to tell me that I will get through this and that things get better. Please don’t tell me things get worse! I know there are a lot more challenges ahead—just let me get through this one first. More than anything, amazing, warrior moms, I need for you to tell me I’m doing a good job. Because, as much as I hate to admit it, I need that validation and reassurance from you. It would mean the world to me, and it’s the oxygen I need to keep going right now. Also, if you can show me how to successfully swaddle my kid, I’d appreciate that too.
Kristy Nimz, LPC, NCC, is a licensed therapist in New Jersey as well as a nationally certified counselor. Kristy has spent the majority of her professional life working in the mental health field with adults as well as children and families in crisis. She is also a new mom to a 15-month-old little girl. When not chasing around her toddler, writing about parenting or counseling the masses, Kristy enjoys running, baking, crafting and spending time with her family and her rescue pitbull, Cookie.