I feel like a lot of moms don’t fully feel safe admitting parenting is hard. They like to force a smile and tell other moms, moms-to-bes, and just anyone who asks them that they are fine. They talk about what a gift their children are, how it’s challenging but they are learning. It’s hard to ask for help.
There are so many emotions that go hand in hand with becoming a new parent. As a mother, your hormones are going wild. Even the healthiest of moms has a question in their head at any given time: “Am I failing as a mother?”
We look at these articles in magazines that show that smiling mommy. Her skin is flawless, every strand on her hair is in place, her clothes are neat, tidy, and even stylish. That mom looks completely together, hell, that mom is more together than I was when I was single. She talks about sleep training her baby, or the newest easy recipe (that really isn’t as easy as you would like). You see a mommy like that and then you compare you to yourself.
Your hair is a mess and it hasn’t been washed for a few days, and if hormones are affecting you the way they are me, it’s thinning slightly, so even when it is washed, you can never get it to look the way you want it to. Your skin is greasy, there is a pimple or two that you can never quite get rid of. Under your eyes are dark, a telltale sign of how little sleep you are getting. Your clothes have breast milk or spit up stains, a few stains you can’t even identify.
You are not that mother from the article.
Do you want to know a secret? Almost no one is.
It really is criminal the way they portray mothers in articles and other media. It makes all other mothers question what they are doing or if they are doing it right. Like we don’t have enough to deal with being new moms.
Most days I forget to brush my teeth, my hair is a mess, and that dirty diaper smell follows me around no matter how many times I change my clothes. So when my mother in law comes to visit, it gives me this huge sense of relief.
I have been fortunate in the relationship with my mother in law. I hear horror stories about how poisonous the relationship some women have with their mother in law is, and I am honestly so thankful that my husband’s mother and I get along as well as we do. When she comes to visit, I feel like she shares some of the weight of being a mother with me.
It helps that she goes such long stretches without seeing my daughter, I know when she is here she wants to get in as much time with her as she possibly can. This means I can do things like a shower, wash my face, and even something as silly as just sit by myself and breathe.
The week she was here literally flew by. She was putting my daughter down for naps (a task that I find impossible since my daughter usually falls asleep on my chest and moving her is the end of the nap), playing with her every moment she can, reading to her. All the things I did alone during the day, suddenly I had tagged out, and nana was the go-to. It was honestly wonderful.
Every new parent should have a relief team, one outside of the household. Handing the baby back and forth between the parents isn’t quite the same as having someone else come in and give you both time and space to breathe.
She left yesterday and I can honestly feel her absence. I have no more stolen moments to myself. My daughter is looking for that extra person for attention, and finding only me, she has gone back to being clingy.
Sure, I am getting more sleep (my daughter and I co-sleep and we gave up the bed in her room to accommodate nana), but the extra energy I get from sleep quickly fades throughout the day when I am at my daughter’s every beck and call.
Every parent struggles, and it’s okay to admit that to yourself, and even to be so bold as to admit it to someone else. I have been honest in my pregnancy and my parenting, mostly because I hope that my honesty will spread and we can be more open discussing out issues honestly.
Yes, parenting is a blessing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t long for a relief team to swoop in and give you the break you need!
We were sad to see her go, and I’m sure all three of us will be counting the days until our relief team returns!!