“It gets easier,” I hear as my baby cries in my arms while the toddler tries to escape my reach in the store. “They grow up so fast,” an elderly woman says with a smile while I’m marching my kids to the bathroom to tackle two blowout diapers in the store. “You’ll miss this when they’re older,” says a nursery worker as I drop off the baby who’s kept me up for hours all night before church.
These and other platitudes are things pregnant women and new moms hear all too often as they go about their days and nights. Look around and you’ll see it everywhere. Women post in mom groups on Facebook about struggles they’re dealing with only to hear that “it gets easier” or “you’ll miss this stage when they’re older.”
You might be reading this wondering what I mean by “platitude,” so let me share a little dictionary definition for those of you who aren’t as familiar with the word. A platitude is “a flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound.”
I’m just going to give a quick disclaimer before I continue. I’m writing this post for myself and people like me who don’t find those phrases to be helpful in the heat of the moment. I’m not writing it for those of you who find comfort in thinking ahead like that, so if that’s you, I’ll just say that I’m sure things do get easier, even if I can’t see it right now.
I am a mom to a two-year-old and a five-month-old, and I’ll be honest: I’m in the thick of the long nights, trying to balance all my responsibilities with constant nursing, hanging out with my toddler while the baby naps, and just feeling like life is a bit crazy right now.
Life is good, but it can be hard at the same time, and during the hard moments, there are some things I really don’t want to hear.
“It gets easier.”
I hear this and immediately wonder, “When?!” Sometimes that’s a rather loud mental scream, and sometimes it’s a defeated question in my mind. Don’t get me wrong; I know that things have definitely gotten easier with my firstborn from the time he was an infant to now. As a toddler, he makes my life so fun and is constantly making me smile with all the amazing things he’s learning. That doesn’t mean that his brother, who is utterly adorable, makes life easy on me or that the long nights aren’t long and exhausting. And when people tell me it gets easier, it would help if it got easier right then and there.
“You’ll miss this stage when they’re older.”
I wrote a whole post in a private group about my feelings on this one. The truth is that I don’t think I’ll miss the long nights, especially when people tell me this after one such night. I won’t miss the dirty diapers that pile up day after day. And I won’t miss the newborn stage. Some people don’t like the newborn stage, and I am one of those. Cuddly babies are adorable, but that stage of life is definitely not my favorite, so no I don’t think I’ll miss this.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps.”
I don’t know a single mother who hasn’t heard that phrase at some point in time. Have you seen the meme that states this platitude along with a few other responses like “Clean when the baby cleans”? It’s funny because it’s true and even more so when you consider what life is like for a mom of two little ones. I have enough trouble sleeping without being told to sleep when my baby sleeps, and that really comes across as a trite expression when you’re not experiencing the round-the-clock nursing of a newborn.
“They’re only little once.”/”They grow up so fast.”
These phrases don’t make me angry so much as they make me feel a bit guilty because I’m excited about the growth and changes of my babies. I can’t wait to see them grow and learn and try new things. No, I don’t want them to grow up too fast, but watching my toddler learning new things is so exciting for me. I love getting to hear him say new things or see his face light up when he recognizes things and can do something new with proficiency. These phrases make me wonder if I’m wishing away my children’s childhood.
If you want to encourage a new mom, instead of using some of the played-out phrases we all know and have heard, try offering her a hand with the baby or toddler she’s struggling with, bring her a cup of coffee and spend time just chatting, or give her a free hour of babysitting so she can just get out a while. Platitudes are platitudes because they’re overused, but something that will never be overused is just being there to support someone else who needs help.
I always feel super-fertile moms are the ones who can roll their eyes or get angered at the platitudes. Moms who try for years (whether successfully or unsuccessfully) are much less likely to agree.
Disagree with RR. Tried for 9 years to get pregnant, even 2 failed rounds of IVF – nothing. Lots of tears, masked happiness, pretending childfree life was great. Had so many “super fertile” friends with 2, 3, even 4 kids. Then out of the blue we got pregnant and…now after experiencing the reality of parenthood, I agree with this article whole heartedly. Hated the newborn phase, felt betrayed by all these platitudes, disenchanted with society’s depiction of motherhood, stunned by how brutal sleepless nights are (took 23.5 months for our son to FINALLY sleep through the night)! Talk about a true nightmare. Now I’m loving the preschool phase, excited for him to grow up more so we can do more things with him (i.e., travel, long hikes, museums). We’re one and done by choice. And, we’re friends with two other couples who had similar experiences, and have remained one and done by choice. You feel what you feel, every experience is different. Love that you shared this post Rachel! #brave <3