Dear Seasoned Moms…

(This post has sparked an interesting, yet respectful, discussion in the comments. Before you comment, be sure to read through all of the comments, mine included, before posting as I think I’ve clarified and given new thought to some of what I’ve said here!)

…and not-so-totally-seasoned-Moms:

There is something about becoming a Mom that leaves you a little war-torn, isn’t there? And it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been mothering, the sheer act of becoming a mother, no matter how you’ve gone about it, and then all of the subsequent hours that follow, leaves a permanent mark. A dent. A scar. A tattoo. Pick your poison. You cannot be responsible for the well-being of another human being, and be so intimately aware of the goings on of his or her digestive tract, and not feel like you’ve accomplished something both spectacular and simultaneously wounding.

You should congratulate yourself. You should feel proud, elated, joyful. You should allow yourself the sense of satisfaction that can only come from the silence that permeates your home after the dishes have been done, your kids are in bed and you’re on your couch finishing up a work project for the next morning, wine in hand.

But you know what you shouldn’t do? You shouldn’t continue to be such self-righteous, know-it-all assholes to new parents. We are over you and we don’t care.

Jonna (known better as Jonniker) mentioned something to me a few weeks ago, when Abigail was far past the point of being reasonable, about how her daughter Sam was colicky and what a challenge it was. What she didn’t do, however, was invalidate what we were experiencing, simply because she’d gotten through it, or because in the competition of Who’s The Bigger Martyred Mama, Sam’s colic was far worse. I’m paraphrasing here, but when I thanked her for commiserating with me, she went to talk about the disservice that veteran parents do to new parents by saying things such as, “Well, just wait until…” or “You don’t know how bad it really can get…” anything that presumes that a new parent’s experience can’t be anything compared to what the seasoned parent has already gone through. It doesn’t help anyone, and it assumes that all children are the same, which is total bullshit.

Since she said this, I can’t help but notice how prevalent this behavior is.

Abigail Grace has been sleeping like a champ. Tonight she went to bed at 7 p.m. (it’s 9:15 p.m. now), in her crib, and she’s still there sleeping now. She has been doing this for several days now, at my parents’ house included. I mentioned in jest (and celebration) on Twitter tonight that clearly I’m going to have to get a new hobby since finally we’re getting a handle on her sleeping habits.

You can’t follow me on Twitter, read this blog or be friends with me on Facebook, and have been hearing anything from me that doesn’t have to do with AG and her sleeping issues. It’s ridiculous, insane, boring…I know. So I made a joke about this.

Within minutes I hear from someone who said I just needed to wait because she was going to be teething soon.

This person didn’t mean anything by it, at least I don’t think she did, but why is it that for a good majority of parents the default response to the new parent, who is trying to conquer a mountain, is to summarily shit all over them? Or point out that no, this isn’t over.

I’m sorry, what about giving birth to a human being did you think I missed anyway? Oh, you mean that there will be more challenges ahead? Do you mean AG isn’t a Cabbage Patch Doll that they plucked from my uterus two months ago? I HAD NO IDEA.

What I will not do, what I have been making the most conscious of efforts not to do, is rain on the parade of a parent. I will not shove my own experiences as Abigail’s mom onto someone else, as though being Abigail’s mom somehow makes me an expert on being any kid’s mom. I will not tell another parent that they just need to wait, or that they just need to understand, or they just need to do any fucking thing. Guess what? They do not.

Do you know what new parents need? For you to remember what it was like when you finally hit your stride, and how you finally felt like you could do this, even though you know now that you had no idea what was really ahead of you. The new parent does not care about that information, least of all from you. What they need is for you to use your brain and bite your tongue when they tell you that their kid is finally sleeping, and maybe not tell them how in two weeks, two months, two years it’s going to get really ugly, ha ha, the underlying message from your smug ass being that they shouldn’t get too comfortable.

As though somehow that was even possible.

What they need is for you to say, “Great job, Mom!” What they need is for you to congratulate them and send your love, and tell them you know how good it feels to accomplish what they have. What they need is for you to remind them how they can do this and how proud you are of them. They just need you to cheer them on. They just need you to send your love.

God this is so hard. And you know what? I’m pretty well clued in after just two months that this will be hard from here on out. As my Dad said to me the other day, as we sat on my couch talking about Abigail and all of my fears, it never ends. I’m his 35-year-old, grown-ass daughter and he’s still struggling to parent me. I don’t need you to tell me that this is hard and we have so much ahead of us still.

But you know what? I’m sitting here in my living room with my husband, having made a great dinner, cleaned up the kitchen and then took a hot shower before curling up on the couch. And my kid? My baby is fast asleep in her crib upstairs, where she’s been since I put her down, and the difference it’s making in our lives right now cannot be underestimated. At the most it’s helped to lift a crippling depression and at the least made it so Glinny has gotten more belly rubs than she has in weeks. I couldn’t have imagined that this was even possible, just two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago? I was so scared. So sad. I had a hard time believing there was a tunnel, much less a light at the end of one. It threatened me and my family. This wasn’t a small matter for us, and it’s hard to be tolerant of people who want to take the wind out of this sail, even when they might not mean to do so.

I want to celebrate this. I want to be happy about this. I want to be in this moment and roll around in it. I don’t want to immediately replace this joy with another heaping of potential terror and trepidation because some random person on Twitter had that experience.

And I really, really never want to make another mom ever feel this way, either.