8.12.2011

Reason Number One Of Why I Shouldn't Be Invited To Baby Showers



When I was pregnant with O, the one thing that people told me over and over again was "You're going to love parenthood.  It is so much fun."  Amidst all the declarations of fun, however, one woman looked at me and simply said "Parenthood is hard.  It's a lot of work."  And as she told me this, all I could think was "man, she's kind of a downer."

But when the baby finally arrived my feelings about this statement changed completely.  Rather than feeling that she was overly negative and really should have kept her comment to herself, what I felt was thankful.  I appreciated her honesty and I appreciated her willingness to speak up when it flew in the face of what everyone else was telling me.  Because I'll tell you this, for me at least, there were very few things "fun" about those first couple of weeks.  Lack of sleep?  So not fun.  Breastfeeding problems?  Also no fun.  Arguments with your husband at two in the morning?  Definitely not fun.

And so when I found myself at a baby shower this past weekend and I repeatedly heard the women around me telling the mother-to-be how much fun it was to have a baby and that she was just going to love every minute of it, I saw myself cringing in the corner and thinking about how a small dose of honesty is not a bad thing.  I appreciated someone telling me that it's normal not to feel joy every second.  It doesn't mean that you're less of a mom and it doesn't mean that you love your child any less.  It just means that sometimes the best things in life are hard...and require work...and exhaust you at times.  These things are not mutually exclusive and I wish new mothers (and fathers) were told this more often.

But amidst all my wishing that people were more honest, I have to say that I stayed silent.  When someone commented "Yeah, I don't understand why people feel compelled to say such negative things to pregnant women" and everyone agreed, I didn't say anything.  Instead I began to wonder whether I was just bitter and overly negative.  To be honest, I'm still wondering if I am...

17 comments:

  1. Parenting is hard--the most difficult thing I've ever done. Staying home and stopping my career to care for our kids makes it even harder sometimes because it's non-stop craziness. I believe people who gush about how wonderful parenting is do a disservice to the rest of us who feel we need to be on Prozac to be as happy as them. Besides, I just think they are lying to make themselves look like wonderful parents. I also despise all the people who say how wonderful pregnancy is. It's 9 months of feeling crappy. Let's just say it!

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  2. I am right there with ya. My first baby was super colicky and never slept. It was kind of a nightmare. There were sweet moments, of course, but when I think on that time in my life, it looks kinda like a dark blur. But, I kept it to myself because everyone had told me how great it was going to be and it had me wondering what my problem was! I had milder, but similar feelings every time I had a newborn.

    So, now, at baby showers, if they ask us to write advice on notecards, I gently alert new moms to the fact that they will need help and to press on, because even though it will be tough for awhile, things get easier by the month. Then I make sure and check up after the baby comes and offer a listening ear and encouragement!

    Great post!

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  3. I don't think you are overly negative at all! Parents deserve to know that having a newborn is a roller coaster of bliss, worry, exhaustion, and love. It is super hard and not always fun. In fact I would argue that the first month is rarely "fun", worth it yes but fun, not so much. I also agree with Katy about pregnancy, 9 months of feeling horrid is not my idea of a good time. Maybe all those other gals at the shower are masochists?

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  4. Parenthood is hard. Its not a spectator sport. Its full contact. And I don't think saying so is negative, just realistic. People who think it will all be hearts and butterflies 100% of the time are delusional.

    Of course, its wonderful too or nobody would have more than 1.

    ~MG, mom to 5.

    PS... as I type this my 8 month old is eating a magazine.

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  5. It's funny, one of my friends is having her first baby in January and she gently accused me of being negative recently. I smiled sweetly and told her to give me a call in February...
    Parenthood is not fun at first, rewarding yes, but not fun.

    Don't get me started on pregnancy...

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  6. I think women that romanticize motherhood (this includes me) do so because that is where they find their sense of self worth. So to say that it's hard or not fun feels like saying we aren't worth much. I think you have your two feet firmly planted on the ground and speaking the truth in love is important.

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  7. In my experience everyone is totally different with their enjoyment level of early motherhood. I loved every second of newborn babyhood and my best friend was a nervous wreck and couldn't wait until the kid could walk and talk. So it's hard to give advice to expecting mothers because you just don't know how they will feel. Maybe you could talk to your friend a week or so after she is home and gauge how she feels. That's probably more when she'd need some support and venting time.

    Now .... do you want to know how you will feel when your sweet little ones are teenagers and off driving around with friend doing God know what?? Nah .... enjoy your babies and don't even think about that now :)

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  8. Anonymous12.8.11

    For me, pregnancy was a breeze. No sickness, maybe just a little too tired. However, I must agree with BaileyGirl5 - babyhood and toddlerhood is a breeze compared with teenagerhood! Just so you know, they don't get less stubborn as they get older. And I'm not really sure they get any more reasonable either. :)

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  9. Children aren't just physically demanding but mentally demanding. I tell my friend (who's expecting) about the negatives of having children but I also explain to her why most Mums say that they would never have it any other way. I think that it's important to let other Mums know of your experiences so that when they're going through it they don't feel like failures and know that it's normal to be unsure of things, feel overwhelmed, want a break.... everyone is different and so too their children so experiences will also differ but I found it reassuring that other Mums could relate to what I was going through. I think that if you start a conversation on a comedic note like, 'It's wonderful to breast feed but OMG, no one told me that I'd be walking around with cold cabbage leaves stuck down my top for two months....' etc. then other Mums may feel more relaxed to tell their real stories. :)

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  10. ...................this post (and comments) has given me an idea.... thanks. :)

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  11. Hmmmm... your not being overly negative. How 'bout this? Children are asshats. There. I feel much better thankyouverymuch.

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  12. Yeah, I tend to say "it's the hardest job you'll ever do, but also the most rewarding". My sister's first baby screamed for six months so I had no rose-coloured glasses and guess what, my first did the same. And ha, we went back for more. I think kids have some sort of addictive drug in them, put in there by devious manufacturers.

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  13. While most of my pregnancy was a breeze and as a single mom, things were surprisingly easy for me. I think the reason for this was BECAUSE I expected it to be hard. I think that my hardest part was having breastfeeding difficulties. My sister tried to prepare me, but I was fooled into the breastfeeding class instructor's optimism. I think the reality part from my sister allowed me not to give up. As long as people are tactful about it, the hard side of it is a welcomed conversation.

    Hearing how easy and fun it is gives a new mom the misconception that any difficulties she has is abnormal.

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  14. You're right, Parenthood is difficult, but perhaps a baby shower is NOT the ideal time to say so. Instead try taking your friend out for coffee or lunch to share your parenting stories, she'll appreciate that more.

    But parenthood is the most amazing {hardest} thing I've ever had to do!

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  15. I am with you - people need to know the truth. Yes, Parenthood is great and wonderful. It is also challenging, not having family around for support and often doing those long long nights with a crying baby alone as my darling husband was away were BLOODY HARD.

    One of the most useful things that I was told from a friend, mother and elder at our church was "Look after yourself. If she is crying and you have fed, changed, burped her and she is still screaming, place her in the cot and go for a shower. Wash your hair, take your time. She is safe in her cot and more often then not she will either be fast asleep when you get out or still screaming" I used this advise. The hot water running down my back as I washed my hair was often a welcome relief. I did not feel like a bad mother. If she was still screaming when I got out, then at least I was clean and refreshed and ready to deal with her again. The water drained out her sounds and more times then not she was asleep when I got out as the sound of the water (she was in the room the other side of the bathroom) has also lulled her to sleep. The women was a saint and for that I am thankful.

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  16. i am cracking up at sascha's comment! "Children are asshats. There. I feel much better thankyouverymuch." ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! awesome!

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  17. Anonymous26.8.11

    I remember wanting to introduce my fist to people who made negative comments, but really, it all depends on how it's delivered. Some people seem really miserable as parents and relish telling pregnant women how screwed they are. Others, though, seem very good about saying "here's my number -- when it gets tough, call me, and don't worry, it gets easier over time, you'll be fine." The thing is that you're talking to somebody who, on her first pregnancy especially, may not know how much of her emotional reaction to things is coming from her physical experience and how much from her rational mind. Kylie's friend gave her similar advice to some I got from a wise friend: babies can't fall off the floor (and you only have to get through the next nurse). -- Sarvi (from flickr)

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