One of the great things about blogging is community. My guest blogger today is Elske, and she and I have been following each other’s blogs for a long time now – mutual fans you can say.
Elske is a software developer by day, freelance writer by night, but her main job is being mummy to 21 month old Elisabeth. Her blog (elskenewman.com) focuses on her life as a first time mum and life in general. Her lifelong dream to become a successful writer.
In today’s guest post, Elske writes about her experiences when Elisabeth was first born.
About four years ago I went to the cinema with a colleague. This particular time we were going to see ‘The Young Victoria’, a film about the first few years of Queen Victoria’s rule and her romance with Prince Albert. Very much my kind of film.
While we were waiting for the film to start, we caught up on the work gossip and what was happening in our home lives. Because we were both very busy at work we had lots to talk about, and we initially didn’t notice that the film hadn’t started yet, it was late.
When the film finally started, we both stared at the big screen for a few seconds…..then looked at each other…….this was not ‘The Young Victoria’……we had gone to the wrong screen…….unbelievable………..what to do? We quickly decided we would stick with the one we had mistakenly selected…..which was ‘Marley and me’………a film about a dog, not quite the same genre.
It turned out to be quite a funny film, I enjoyed, but it wasn’t until I watched the film again after having Elisabeth that I noticed a particular line. When Jenny Grogan (played by Jennifer Aniston) is having a particularly difficult day with her baby, she asks her husband (John Grogan, played by Owen Wilson) why nobody told them it was going to be so hard. His reply was: ‘They did, you just didn’t listen.’
This is very true for a lot of parents. You are given advice repeatedly:
your life will change dramatically,
you’ll be tired beyond belief
every task you performed pre-baby without thinking about it will become 10 times harder be proud of yourself if you manage to get up in the morning and get dressed.
Yet, you are still shocked when it happens.
I know I was. My sister had a baby 18 months before I did. I stayed with them for a few days when my nephew was only two weeks old and I saw them struggle through these early days. But even so, I didn’t realize the enormity of the task of looking after a baby until it happened.
The first day my husband went back to work, I didn’t get dressed until an hour or so before he got back home. Getting dressed was the only thing I did other than caring for Elisabeth. The second day I unloaded the dishwasher. I clearly remember feeling frustrated with myself as I saw my exhausted husband clean up the kitchen, cook me dinner, and tidy up without a single complaint. I knew he appreciated how tired I was from nursing, getting up during the night and generally just looking after our little girl. However, I felt like a failure.
It was a big relief when my sister told me that she didn’t do any housework for months after my nephew was born it. Knowing that my sister, who is an amazingly strong woman, had gone through the same thing made me relax a little. I wasn’t failing miserably (even though it felt like it), I was doing my job, which was (and still is) looking after Elisabeth. Everything else could wait.
After a few weeks we settled into a routine. I occasionally managed to get out, although it was quite depressing to tell my husband that we did lots. Then I started listing what we had achieved, and all we had done was gone to the shops around the corner. The first night we had dinner at the table together felt like a huge achievement. I don’t think my husband realizes how much he supported me by not expecting me to do anything more than make sure Elisabeth was ok. Not once did he look disappointed when he came home and saw from the state of the kitchen how bad our day had been.
During those first few fragile weeks, I felt like the whole world was expecting me to have a lovely time with this wonderful little creature we had created, and I felt bad because I wasn’t enjoying her as much as I thought I should. Every mother I met seemed more capable, confident, and happier. However, these confident looking mothers will tell you they had the exact same difficulties. You just hadn’t noticed because you were too tired to pay attention.
Now here is the truth, I love my daughter more than life itself, but having a baby is hard, very hard, and there is no shame in admitting this. Happy parenting everyone!
I agree with you! being a parent is hard. My son is 20 months old and it’s been very hard on us, almost no sleep because he has night terrors. I have found it difficult talking about this with other mothers; most of them tell me “I’m good, just a little bit tired, but OK I am OK”, then I feel worst about myself and would like to scream “am I the only one who is so exhausted?, am I not a good parent because I find my days very difficult sometimes?”. I am glad you wrote this post Elske!
Certainly outside of my knowledge base but it seemed to ring true and was well written.
It is hard when every other mother you see says they are doing fine, especially in the first few weeks when everyone is expecting you to have a wonderful time whilst you are just trying to cope with the pain, the lack of sleep and the scary responsibility you now have for your tiny little baby. But remember you are NOT a bad parent for finding it hard!
I think this is so spot on. Unfortunately too many women are embarrassed or feel like their failing by admitting its hard. I’ve done hard things…but NOTHING prepares for how hard being a parent really is. Its the most rewarding and amazing job I think someone could ever be graced with. It’s the best thing I’ve done with my life, but is exhausting and definitely the hardest job I’ve ever had. Now…I have a two year old and am bringing home an infant in less than ten weeks…so someone remind me that its ok to feel like this then 🙂 And no, nowathomemom, you are NOT the only one exhausted…your just one of the few brave enough to admit it 🙂
Good luck with the new baby. I hope he/she will be healthy.
Of course, I can’t speak from experience but it rang true to me.
I agree with your assessment of parenthood.
oh but give it a few years, they’ll be older, it’ll get easier. You will be able to sleep through the night. It’s a cake walk. (oh, i think I strained a muscle in my eye rolling them so hard…)
You’re funny and a little mean.
both are very true, but she’s use to it. Her nickname for me is Twizzler, cause I’m so twisted…
Ain’t that sweet! I prefer the red ones.
Ha.ha.ha. I’m very aware that it will never REALLY get easier, just different 🙂 Twizzler!
Good luck with the new baby, I hope it all goes ok. I really wish more mums would be honest about their experiences, I think it could really help some first time mums knowing they’re not the only ones.
What a very honest post. It is so true. Those BK (before kids) people think we are moaning when we talk about the difficulties, and that we have let ourselves go and our standards slip. Then they experience it with their own kids and WHAM! it all makes sense!! 😀
It certainly seemed honest and heart felt to me as well.
Amen to all you wrote here! Having a baby is incredibly hard! Every now and then I long for those early days back, I definitely don’t know where I got the energy back then! A lovely post!
Yeah, it was rough on me! I mean uhh, for mothers. Seriously, I learned from reading this post which is always a good thing.
Thank you. It is amazing how we cope with these things and still think it is the best thing that has ever happened to us 🙂
I agree with every single word! My own sister is still single and childless, but she IS learning from watching me. I think she’s decided it’s too much work.
That’s a logical conclusion to come to but you can’t necessarily learn/recognize/appreciate the love and emotion that goes along by just watching.
I can totally relate to this one! I remember it was several weeks after I brought my son home that I actually had a hot meal. And I’m still amazed to this day how I got so much done of such a little amount of sleep.
I said the same thing to a friend of mine who had a baby a year before me … I asked her why didn’t you tell me it was going to be like this? She said, ‘you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.’
That is just like Elske said – we don’t believe even though we are told. If so, I bet population would be about half of what it is.
My boss summed it up accurately when we were discussing how much leave I would take with my first one, and I told him I was uncertain how long I should take as I had never done this before. His words were, “It is more time consuming than you can possibly imagine.” As with anything, you don’t fully understand it until you are in it.
Having my first at 34, I thought I would be more of a pro because I was more mature. I chuckle at that now. But, those first few weeks are precious and never to be recaptured. I advise all parents to enjoy them as much as possible and catch up on the other stuff later. I know, some days that’s a tall order 🙂
Also, by the second one, you ARE a pro.
Like they say, some things you simply have to experience.