When bubba was one month old, I reached for my mobile phone during one of her 3am feeds and typed one-handed into the google search bar, ‘When does parenting get easier?’ I felt ashamed to ask this, because I didn’t want to be ungrateful. I was grateful. Grateful for an uncomplicated birth, grateful for a beautiful daughter, and grateful for the overwhelming love and support from my hubby, family and friends. But if I had to describe the first three months of bubba’s life with only one word, ‘hard’ would be the honest answer. Though it wasn’t without its beauty (namely, the sweetness of many firsts which passed too fleetingly), it was also flippin’ hard. Feeding issues, two to three hourly feeding cycles, lots of washing, lots of fear, lots of tears, lots of take-away food (and then feeling guilty for eating take-away food)…..
My google search that night/morning tells me that there is no consensus on when parenting gets easier (surprise, surprise). I think Bronwyn McCahon sums it well here:
Motherhood is a constant challenge, just in different ways. When you’ve got really young kids the demands are very physical (getting them dressed, wiping bottoms, helping them eat) but I can already feel things slowly shifting from physical to emotional demands as they get older and have to navigate different issues at school.
When the going gets tough, it’s important to remember. Remembering does two things. One, it reminds you of your own strength, of how you have overcome difficult circumstances in the past. Two, it reminds you that things will pass; everything is in a constant state of flux.
I remember that bubba would scream at the top of her lungs for the whole duration of car trips. Nowadays, she sits happily with her book and sometimes even sings and claps along to the radio (and only screams when she’s tired).
I remember that bubba would scream whenever she was put in the pram. Nowadays, she lets us sit her there for longer periods of time and can be distracted with food if all else fails.
I remember that bubba would cry every night from 5pm onwards for a couple of hours. Nowadays, we can even take her out for dinner (and she is only a bit grouchy sometimes).
I remember that bubba used to scream whenever we changed her diaper or her clothes. Nowadays, she only screams for half of those times 😉
I remember that I barely had time for breakfast or lunch, and that I would often have to make and eat sandwiches one handed. Today I took her out to a proper restaurant, she sat across me in a high chair, and we shared a meal together. She was officially my lunch date.
So on all those counts, parenting has gotten easier. I think that’s what’s important: to remember where you came from, and compare it to where you are now (not to anyone else or anyone else’s baby). The parent-child relationship is unique, we all have different temperaments and personalities and no one’s story/ journey is the same.
And when the going gets really really tough, sniff bubba’s head. I swear there’s pheromones or something there – it makes you sigh and go, oh never mind that you don’t sleep and wants to party at 3am, I will always love you anyway.
If you feel anxious or depressed, do seek professional help from the good folks at the following links or speak to your Doctor: