If you haven’t read my previous post, “Coming Out About Fussy Babies,”
please jump over there now and then come back here. Thanks!
After sharing “Coming Out About Fussy Babies,” many people said that they have been dealing with this same thing or did ten, twenty, forty years ago. Unfortunately, mothers who go through this often feel that if they talk about their struggles, they seem ungrateful or resentful.
One friend said,
Michelle, you are saying something I’ve been saying for 6 years, 5 months and 11 days. And I seriously got tired of being judged for saying in so many words (I don’t beat around the bush) that this stuff was HARD! And maddening! And isolating! And depressing! … AND I LOVED THEM! BUT IT WAS SO HARD!
But if I said so, I wasn’t “embracing the joy” of motherhood. Um, really girls? This is how we are Christ to one another? By saying “You’re focusing on the negative,” while inside you’re thinking “You’re a real buzz-kill,” and just not being there anymore?
I haven’t figured out where I think the balance is, but I know what I experienced isn’t it.
I have encountered this very same thing. If you hold everything inside, you feel like you are going crazy, but if you share with friends, they seem to back away or give you advice that ends up making you worry more than you were originally.
And, to many people, you may appear to be complaining. It is cathartic to be able to talk about something difficult that you are going through, but when that difficult thing is a baby, people think you are a complainer and that you are not grateful for your child.
I am constantly phrasing things like this: “he cries a lot and it is very difficult, but he such a sweet boy and we love him like crazy.” I feel like I need to make up for what I said. I never feel ok to just say, “this is hard. He is difficult. I’m struggling.” The End.
Of course, I love him.
Even in the most difficult of times when I feel disconnected from everyone and even like I am not bonding with him, I still love him.
Others will say that we chose this path. It was our choice to have kids. That may have been the case, but that doesn’t mean that good things aren’t difficult sometimes. So, saying that it was our choice doesn’t help at all. It might have been someone’s choice to be a doctor or a missionary, and that is hard work, but we don’t judge them for it. So, why are people always judging mothers?
One of the greatest reasons that mothers become isolated is judgment.
If our child is crying out in public, we feel like a failure. When we go out with friends, but end up standing behind the table, bouncing our baby until he falls asleep, we feel all alone. Then, the invitations cease and the friends stop calling because who wants to spend time with a mother who is completely stressed out and at the end of rope. That doesn’t even sound like fun to me.
We know it will get better, but in the midst of it all, the light at the tunnel looks very, very dim. And the problem with all this judgment and isolation is that
we are forced to do it all ourselves.
So, we know that we can, but that doesn’t mean we want to.
Friends, my advice to you is this:
One of the best ways to be her friend
is to take her other children to your home or the park for a playdate.
Drop off a meal so she doesn’t have cook while holding a crying baby.
Offer to come to chat and when her children need something,
you can get it for them or you can hold the baby for her.
And let her vent.
Don’t offer advice, don’t give words of wisdom, just listen.
Give her a hug.
And, never ask if she needs help,
if you think you should ask, then she needs it.
If you ask her, she will say that she is “doing ok.”
She’s just trying to be strong.