Sometimes being a new mom sucks. My least favorite piece of advice on becoming a new mother was to “treasure every moment.” We’ve all heard (or even delivered) the well-meaning mantra, which ignores that some moments are just plain crappy. Literally.
As if we really could treasure these other moments, when we are up to our elbows in excrement, vomit, and other bodily fluids, sleep-deprived and at the utter end of ourselves. These are moments when we new moms need to give ourselves grace more than we need to somehow enjoy caring for our screaming, filthy, noncompliant little ones. Of course, we treasure our children. Of course, we are grateful and blessed to be their parents. But some parts of our job are downright unpleasant (as it goes in any profession), and we need to know that that’s okay.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to the well-meaning advice-givers, wrongly thinking that if we really loved our children like these experienced moms do, we wouldn’t struggle so in these other moments. We’d be able to manage the stress and navigate the long days without sometimes going to pieces. We’d have it together.
I recently reread The Velveteen Rabbit (to my oblivious five-month-old) and deeply identified with the desire to fit in. I pictured myself as the titular lovey, sitting still among the other more experienced mothers and hoping they don’t notice I’m missing the parts that make them function so well. I seem incapable of providing for my child the way they do for their children. I cannot fathom stimulating multiple curious minds, nurturing complex emotional and spiritual identities, meeting urgent physical needs, and caring fully for myself (i.e., exercising, eating well, and pursuing enriching hobbies) at the same time.
When I long for integrity–for wholeness and completeness–that I perceive in these other mothers as the Velveteen Rabbit longed to become REAL like the other rabbits, I am blinded to the struggles of their unique situations. I forget that although they might be at a different stage in their parenthood journeys and have more experience (or at least more sleep), wherever they are in their lives is “new” to them.
- Being a first-time mom is new. Okay.
- Being a mom to a first child and bringing home an infant is a new stage in the journey.
- Being a mom of multiple kids with a baby on the way–or an adoption pending–is new.
- Being a mom and suffering miscarriage or a complicated subsequent pregnancy is new.
So whenever I have this particular early stage of parenthood figured out (and at last exchange my sawdust stuffing for working innards, as the story goes) and become a REAL, highly-functioning, actually-managed-to-shower-today mom . . . I will, in a sense, be made new all over again. A different kind of new. I will face new developmental stages for my children, new challenges for our family, new struggles in my marriage.
My appeal to you, as one new-ish mom to another:
Let’s do our best to remember that no one outgrows NEWNESS on her journey to REALNESS.
And let’s extend grace to one another as we navigate the new territory and trudge through all of those other, hard-to-treasure moments.
What about you? What’s your most hard-to-treasure moment? Or what’s the thing (trait, quality, ability) you think you lack–the thing you think keeps you from being REAL? Where do you need grace today?