The other day, I took a prenatal yoga class for the third or fourth time. Amid all the cute bellies on first-time moms, I felt compelled to offer a dash of perspective from the side of motherhood — the one that’s been there already.
The following post appeared May 25, 2010 as “Reality Check for New Moms” at DC Metro Moms.
Reality check for new moms
Despite being only 29 weeks pregnant, I seem to have the biggest belly in my prenatal yoga class — and also the longest history as a parent. As far as I can tell, the rest of the folks who show up on Sundays at noon are all first-time moms. They are generally chipper and perky but do their share of complaining about being tired of being pregnant. All feelings are valid, don’t get me wrong. I just can’t resist throwing in a few dashes of perspective here and there.
I realize there is usually a belittling side to the “just you wait” sort of advice that already-parents give, as though the expectant parent’s current existence is just silly and insignificant. In my comments about mom life, I’m not trying to convey that kind of Debbie Downer perspective or dismissive attitude. I just want to give some context but without sounding annoying in the other direction, as in an overt “Enjoy it now!”
But I do want these women to enjoy it now. Life is different when you have a little one depending on you for just about everything. So when one mom talked about having finally gotten a decent night’s sleep and how much of a difference that makes — I gather she’s been having trouble lately — I offered, “I wish for you not to go for two years without a stretch of sleep longer than five hours.” I do wish that for her. And for me. And for everyone. But it was rough for us, and I get so annoyed with people talking about babies sleeping through the night at a few months old, I do feel like folks need to hear some other realities being spoken so they don’t think they are doing something wrong.
Our yoga teacher tasked us with all sharing something happy when we did introductions.
“I’m Jessica, 29 weeks, and yesterday my husband took our son to an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. They were gone from 9 to 6, and that is the longest I’ve had the house to myself in four years. It was great. So if you enjoy solo time without interruptions or having to pick someone up, relish that now.”
I offer some of these things because I knew few people with kids other than my sisters when I became a mom. I learned a lot from the details I gleaned from moms with older children when I took my baby to La Leche League meetings, Attachment Parenting meetings, moms group playgroups and the like. I dismissed some of the stories at the time as not applicable to me, only to recall them months or even years later. Others I told my husband about right after the fact, and we made conscious decisions based on hearing other people’s experiences. In any case, being around experienced moms has been an important part of my parenting journey.
In any case, I hope I didn’t come off as a self-absorbed mom who believes women’s experiences don’t count until their babies are out of their bodies. We are all on our own paths, and no one point is more important than another.
But it is interesting to be around all these newbies, and I can’t help but hear in my head the sing-song voice of a snotty kid on the playground saying to a younger one, “I know something you don’t know!”
Original to DC Metro Moms Blog
Comments from the original post
Someday they’ll be the ones with the knowing smile in the yoga class!
I remember how naive I was when expecting our first, and those long talks about how were going to do things with my husband.
We were so full of baloney!
I wish more people would say “some kids sleep, and some kids don’t” and the parents don’t get credit for either. My first did NOT sleep, and all of my friends seemed to have sleeping children. I felt like a real failure. My second slept like a professional sleeper, and all my friends seemed to have non-sleepers the second time around. I remember them asking “what are you doing to [your second] to sleep?” and I’d respond “the same think you did to get your first to sleep!”.
I had my second child shortly after moving to a new place and things have NOT been easy. I’m in moms group that’s half newbies and half “knowsies” so I find myself in these types of situations often. The best thing to do is bit your tongue and smile. They never listen anyway, but they’ll find out soon enough… ;-)
I waited well into my 30s to have children because I knew that all my free/me time would come to an end…at least for many years. The only thing I ever say to expectant parents is, “Are you ready for your life to change?” :-)
I have these moments as well. A newly pregnant friend of mine was telling me how exhausted she was feeling. She’s FIVE weeks along in her first pregnancy. My boys are almost 18 months and almost three and I can’t remember the last time I had an uninterrupted stretch of sleep. How when you are pregnant with your second, you almost never even get to nap. But I kept my mouth shut because this is a new experience for her and these feelings are all new to her, so I want her to feel them an enjoy (or not) them and feel comfortable talking to me about them.