A few months ago, I was talking to dear friend of mine on the phone. She lives half the country away which is unfortunate because we both have two girls that are about 3 months apart. Imagine the play dates we could have! Fortunately that has not stopped us from having our heart to hearts that I think we both so desperately need. I was so grateful for her vulnerability about her second daughter. She spoke candidly about the challenges that they’ve been having and openly about her feelings in regard to those challenges.
The reason I am so grateful for her honesty is because my second born has also been challenging for me. She does not have any serious or scary health issues or physical conditions, but she has had some sort of health issue almost her whole 6 months of life. She was colicky her first 8 weeks of life, has reflux, fights sleep day or night, has been sick with some form of virus for over 75% of her life, has allergies we are just learning about, and all in all just isn’t easily content.
Because of this I have felt jealous of other family’s with “easy” babies. I have felt anger towards my tiny little baby, anger toward the situation I find myself in, and anger at myself for not being “bigger” than both of those things. I have felt sadness that the relationship I have with my youngest daughter feels miles behind the relationship I had with my first daughter at that age. I have felt fear that all of this is somehow my fault. And I have felt guilt for feeling any and all of these feelings when I know there are families who are dealing with situations much harder and scarier than my own.
That is a lot of feelings to deal with. Some days I feel like I manage them, and some days I feel like running away. But because I know that I am not the only one who has experienced these feelings, I feel so much less alone in this season of life. So in case you too are in a similar situation and are needing encouragement, here are things that have been helpful for me.
- You are not alone. There are plenty of other mothers who have gone through tough times with their babies and have lived to tell the tale of it. There are also plenty of mothers who are in the trenches with you right now. Let that camaraderie serve as encouragement. Despite what social media might make you feel, not everyone has easy babies.
- Feel your feelings. Give yourself permission to feel the feelings. When you literally cannot put your baby down long enough to clean up the potty training accident from your toddler without her losing her mind, it’s ok to overwhelmed, frustrated, and mad. It’s ok to not like that moment. Having those feelings does not make you a bad mother. It makes you human. Bless the mothers who “appreciates every moment because it goes too fast,” but I’m guessing they didn’t feel that way when their baby was screaming hours on end.
- Let it go. It is just as important to let those feelings go. Simple as it may be, just take a few deep breaths. If you stay stuck in the negative, you’ll never see the positive even if it’s right in front of your face. This is much easier said than done. Trust me.
- Find the good and hold on tight. Relive those good times. Take a picture. Record it. Watch it and remember that there is good even in the challenging times. The same friend I mentioned earlier had more sage advice: don’t let the frustrating, negative parts define your relationship with your baby.
- Repeat. Everyday you’ll get the opportunity to practice these steps. Maybe someday it’ll even come easily. And who knows, maybe we’ll have really easy teenagers.