I read a fabulous article the other day by Talya at Motherhood The Real Deal on the most annoying advice given to parents. An A-Z of sometimes hilarious, sometimes baffling, and sometimes rude advice given to various different bloggers. And reading this got me thinking about my own piece of baffling advice I received as a new parent: “It just gets harder”.
There’s me, 6 weeks or so into the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, dealing with a baby who not only doesn’t sleep at night, he doesn’t sleep during the day either, and cries pretty much constantly. No time to have a shower, no chance to drink a hot cup of tea, let alone make an actual meal; struggling with breastfeeding, and feeling more insecure than I’ve ever felt in my life. And there it comes – someone helpfully saying “It only gets harder, you know”.
I have no idea why anyone would say this to a new mum, but it wasn’t a one-off event – I heard this from 3 separate people. I’m guessing it comes from the same place as those people who tell you to ‘enjoy every minute’ of your baby, but I can understand that as looking back with rose tinted spectacles. ‘It only gets harder’ only serves to make you question what in the hell you’ve let yourself in for for the rest of your life. I’m sure each time my jaw dropped as I thought “It can’t possibly get any harder than this”. And I went home and cried.
But now I’m just over the milestone of two years as a parent, and do you know what? It doesn’t get harder. Sure, there are different challenges to face – and I’m sure there will be more to come in the future – but for me, nothing comes close to comparing to how difficult I found those first 6-7 months.
Being a first-time mum is a tough job – you’re thrown in at the deep end with no manual, no handover, no induction. You’re probably feeling pretty isolated, struggling to make new ‘mum’ friends. And you want to do your best for this perfect little being that’s come into your life, so the pressure you put on yourself is huge. But you’re struggling to get through this all in a sleep deprived haze, and everything – I mean everything – is harder when you’re walking round like a zombie.
Then there is the reality that newborn babies don’t really ‘do’ much. Sure, they’re cute, but spending all day every day with one is not the most riveting of experiences. After all, there’s only so many times you can sing ‘Row, row, row your boat’ before you question whether you’re starting to lose your mind. And although you can chat to your baby (and you will, because let’s face it, otherwise things would be pretty quiet), they’re not exactly great conversationalists.
But with every month that has passed since we hit the 6 month mark, things have got gradually easier. At the end of every month, I’ve looked back and thought ‘this is the nicest age’. With every month that passes, my little boy becomes more responsive, more interactive, more of his own little person and, for me, that’s made things so much more enjoyable.
To any new mums out there who are struggling: it doesn’t get harder, it gets better with every month that passes. Sure, the challenges are different, but that’s all part of what makes being a parent such an exciting job. And every challenge is easier to face when you’ve had a few solid hours of sleep!
What’s the most annoying piece of advice you’ve been given as a parent?