People Mean Well When They Say the ‘Baby Phase’ Goes Fast, But…

Posted on Posted in Writing and Motherhood

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I know people mean well when they say the “baby phase” goes quickly.

I know they mean to both remind parents with little kids to seek out daily joy and also to provide comfort by pointing out that these particular hardships won’t last.

But …

These difficulties will turn into new ones. Kids, and people, will always face adversity in life, just like there’s always something special and wondrous present in each day.

But when we’re inside of this space with little kids — having to choose between spending time with our spouse and getting enough sleep; fighting little people to put on pants; showing them how to go to the bathroom in the potty while simultaneously never getting to use the bathroom alone ourselves ― it’s easy to offer tidy, pretty statements like “enjoy it” without genuinely offering worthwhile help or guidance.

Life isn’t always neat and tidy. Usually it’s not. Parenthood, of all life’s experiences, easily offers the most daunting responsibility, sheer happiness, and challenge.

Of course we know it “won’t last forever.” We know, too, our kids will grow and we’ll miss these days when they were so fully dependent on us. For me, this awareness amplifies these feelings of frustration and stress rather than alleviating them.

Right now I’m trying to get my toddler out of the house for an errand, and my 2-year-old won’t put on pants.

She. Will. Not. Put. On. Pants.

I’m close to giving up and letting her run pants-less around the house instead.

And it’s funny, isn’t it? This image of a grown-ass woman struggling to get clothes on a child? You have to laugh.have to laugh. But still, the word “struggling” best describes how I feel in this moment.

I inhale deeply, and walk away from my toddler sitting on the living room carpet in only a diaper. I walk away. I remind myself she’s asserting her independence, and how I react to this assertion sets up not only the theme of our parent-child relationship, but how she learns to have disagreements with the world around her.

I’m not a good example most of the time ― that’s how it feels.

It feels like I yell, and I never wanted to be the parent that yells, yet here I am doing exactly this sometimes. It feels like I don’t have patience. It feels like I’m not doing a good enough job as a mom.

But I know I am. And I have to keep looking for where I shine as often and as freely as I look for where I need to improve.

I know that people mean well when they say things like “The baby phase doesn’t last forever” or “It goes so fast.” Perhaps the better words to share, though, are simply: “You’re doing a great job.”

6 thoughts on “People Mean Well When They Say the ‘Baby Phase’ Goes Fast, But…

  1. I know people often comment with I needed this today, but I really did. “This too shall pass” invokes an irrational rage in me. Today, having to deal with a 3yo nappy refuser who has a basic understanding of toileting crapping over the floor and smearing it everywhere is not something I felt like dealing with today. I did deal but really not my most admirable moment, shouting at him whilst trying to lift him upstairs arms outstretched with an 8 month pregnant belly to consider and trying to prevent my 19 month old from playing with what could be mistaken for brown play-doh. And breathe…..

  2. Hello:) I know that you are doing an AMAZING job! Your beautiful girls are so very lucky! You are totally right, that is the exact response in those moments that has the potential to offer some much needed soothing in a mother of young children’s day!
    My 2.75 year old has a speech delay and major sensitivities (oral sensory: she sees an OT / speech because she only accepts 4 particular things to eat it’s a constant struggle and organic toddler formula is keeping her from the next step which sadly is a feeding tube) so we have a challenge doing the simple things that I took for granted that were so easy with my first! My third, 18 months old has DS and going to the many extra specialist Drs appointments and therapies is an extra challenge. I do them alone and travel outnumbered daily as my husband works late and on most weekends too. I have the “been there done that ” comment directed at me most often and I just decided to explain my version of motherhood recently and the onlooker realized that maybe they had not actually been here and done this. It felt good but it’s exhausting and a simple “you should be so proud of yourself” comment that I received weeks ago in a gymnastics class with my toddler has lingered in my heart daily! Keep up the incredible job that you are doing and take some extra time here and there doing something just for you even if it’s only a hot coffee! I am trying to not yell today, it has not worked any other day so far this week but all we can do is keep trying! Xoxo

  3. I want to praise other moms all the time but worry that I’ll sound patronizing, especially if I don’t have my toddler with me. I recently flew in the row behind a family with two lap children (flying! with two kids under two! SO BRAVE!!!) and wanted to compliment the parents on their kids doing incredibly well on the flight, but didn’t want to sound like I was condescending or one of those people who thinks kids have to stay absolutely quiet on a flight. So I smiled at them and hoped that was enough.

    1. I totally hear this. I’m big on compliments, personally, but I’ve also learned that many people aren’t comfortable receiving compliments either. This said, I distintly remember the feeling of support when, once as I was walking out of the mall schooling one of my kids after a spoiled shopping, a woman walked past us with a smirk and a quiet “mmm-hmmm.”

      xo

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