As Olivia’s first birthday approaches I think about the journey thus far and how life has changed.
Now that we’re parents, it’s so easy to quickly forget what life was like before Olivia. Looking back to our pre-baby days the first memories are often filled with dinners in fancy restaurants, last-minute plans with friends, and quiet afternoons just enjoying some rest and relaxation. I look back on those days and think “wow, we didn’t even know how good we had it“. But when I stop and think again I realize that it wasn’t as full of sunshine and rainbows as I first remember. It was full of stresses and struggles, just as my current life is.
It was just different.
How quickly I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be pregnant and expecting my first baby. How I was blissfully unaware of the challenges that I would soon face. How I was focusing on labour and delivery, rather than how much of a struggle life with a newborn would be. I’ve realized that, while listening to a newly pregnant friend talk about how much of a challenge it is to be fighting a cold while pregnant, I was dismissing her current struggle.
“Just wait until you’re fighting a cold with a newborn” I think to myself,
“then you’ll know what a REAL challenge is“.
Just because it’s “harder” to have a cold with a newborn than it is while pregnant, does not mean that her struggle is any less. I should have felt compassion in that moment and offered suggestions on remedies that worked for me, rather than judgement.
This was totally an “ah-ha moment” for me. My life as a new mother is no more challenging than one of a child-less or newly pregnant woman. It’s just different. We all have challenges and obstacles that we need to navigate through, they’re just different.
I recently came across this article and felt like I could have written it myself. The author, Katie, hit then nail on the head when she wrote “all the condescension thrown […] is just another example of how we women tend to divide instead of unite.”
How quickly will I forget the struggles that come with navigating motherhood for the first time? The anxiety that I feel when I leave the house. The million times that I second guess each and every parenting decision I make. The feeling that we NEED to stick to the schedule we have created for Olivia for fear that she’ll never sleep again if we don’t. The struggle to transition from a child-less working professional to a stay-at-home mom.
The fact that my life is tougher now that I’m a mother doesn’t mean that the challenges of a single, child-less, or newly pregnant friend (all of whom I used to be) are any less real or hard. Nor does it mean that the challenges that second-time, third-time, or fourth-time moms face are any harder than my single-child struggles. It’s all just different. Apples and oranges.
I have to remember my previous struggles, and not be too quick to forget. For I may be a veteran mom one day and looking at the first-time mom in the baby group and think back to the “easier” days when I only had Olivia. I just have to remember that she’s likely facing challenges with her new transition, just as much as I am with mine. I promise to lean over to her and tell her “you’re such a great mom” and offer a sympathetic and supportive ear to her struggles.
I also have to make time to sit down with my child-less and first-time pregnant friends and listen to their current struggles, for I’m certain that it wasn’t too long ago that I was faced with the same (or at least similar) challenges in my life. Maybe I can even make their challenges easier by sharing what I learned while navigating through my own?
The struggle is real, for everybody; it’s not a competition. We’re all just doing the best that we can in the situation that we’re in.