We have to stop scaring new moms. We need to end the narrative that once you become a mom your life is over. You’ll never sleep again, you’ll constantly worry, you’ll buy so much dry shampoo you should probably buy stock in Proctor and Gamble now.
These things might be true, but we don’t need to tell them that!!! I’m kidding, kind of, you’ll sleep eventually and I’m happy to report I shower once a day. Every day.
Scaring New Moms Starts Early
When I was pregnant there were so many instances where a more experienced mom would say “Oh, you just wait…” and I’d be pissed. Shut up! Why are you raining on my parade? I’m excited and happy, why do you guys keep reminding me how hard it’s going to be?
Then I had kids. Oh, this is really hard.
But you know what? Those “just wait” comments didn’t prepare me for anything. They just bothered me. They just put a damper on my excitement to become a mother.
So we have to stop terrifying new moms and start supporting them in their transition to motherhood.
Instead of saying “Oh, you just wait, once that baby is born you’ll never get any sleep.” You can say “I’m so excited for you to become a mom! I’m sure you’ve been warned that sleep deprivation can be a real bitch, don’t forget you can call me any time you need a rest!”
*applause, the crowd goes wild, Oscar is awarded*
THAT is how we do it people. Support, not instill fear.
One of my all time favorites was when I confided in someone that I was having really bad anxiety over possibly losing the baby. I just couldn’t wait until he was born so I’d stop worrying he was going to die. She told me that the worry wouldn’t stop when he was born, it would only get worse.
Be Supportive, Not Scary
What might have been helpful would have been “I’m so sorry your having anxiety. Pregnancy can be so stressful, do you think it might help if you talked to a professional about the way you’re feeling? All parents have worries, but it’s not ok if the worry gets to be so bad it consumes you.”
We can do better! I’ve found I’m guilty of the “just wait” comments as well now that I’m a mother. It just slips out! You ask a pregnant mom how she’s feeling, she answers she’s great just a little bit of heartburn! “Ohhh just wait, you think Heartburn is bad, you better ask for that epidural STAT!”
Is it a coping mechanism to protect ourselves? We see a happy glowing mom to be in comparison to our dark circled sleep deprived eyes and just have to dim her light a little bit? Maybe.
It’s just the pervasive narrative in our culture. Children are a burden. Motherhood is hard. You’re going to be a hot mess until they leave for college… and on and on.
How Do We Stop Scaring New Moms?
So how do we prepare new moms for this job without discouraging them? I think we need to have honest conversations about motherhood. We need to show the world that even though this is the hardest job we’ve ever had that we love it. We have to reframe the conversation about how awful it is to have kids and talk about all the benefits and joy and I brings.
It’s not enough to throw in a “but they’re worth it!” after you rag on just how awful it is. Let’s talk about the good stuff too.
Let’s talk about how even though it’s hard we really wouldn’t trade it for the world. Let’s talk about how when they wake us up in the middle of the night to eat we just stare at their sweet little face. Let’s admit that no matter how many times you hear “mama!” and roll your eyes, that sweet little voice will never get old.
It’s not all bad, mamas. It’s only a little bit bad, but it’s almost all amazing. Let’s tell the newbies.