I met up with some summer cottage friends this weekend who both became moms recently – one has a 6 month old, the other a 2 month old. We chatted about birth stories, life, and our babies while Avery played in the sand and the other babies slept or cuddled on their moms. It was nice to be surrounded by other fresh moms. I felt like I was among kindred spirits, in a tight group who shared a common understanding of just how hard motherhood can be.
But then our differences in experience started to make itself known. One of the new moms (with the 6 month old) talked about how there’s so much free time with a baby – she had just been reading a good book while her baby laid next to her on the beach. She had been able to take up baking and had been making all kinds of bread. She takes care of herself, and has leisurely showers in the afternoon. The other mom, with the 2 month old, said her baby sleeps a lot, in his own room since birth, sometimes all night without even a single feeding.
I started to feel alienated. I tried to nod and pretend like I knew what they were talking about, but I’m not good at keeping feelings bottled up. I declared that I was so happy for them, but that wasn’t my experience at all. I told them I felt like the first 6 months almost killed me, that I sometimes went 5 days without showering. They were great about it and said that every baby is different, but I still felt like shit.
Was it me? Was it my baby? What was wrong with us to make our experience so hard (on both of us)?
The next day I saw the newest mother on the beach while Avery and I built sandcastles and dipped our toes in the water, thoroughly enjoying everything toddlerhood has to offer. She tried to tell me about her night and she broke down crying. Before I could offer her support, she left in a hurry, apologizing that she was just really emotional right now.
I felt for her – SO HARD. And I also felt better. Even if your baby sleeps well or will happily bounce in a bouncer for hours on end, motherhood is still hard. The emotions are always going to be intense. The responsibility crushing.
I suppose I feel fortunate that (I believe) the hardest is behind me. Sure, the tantrums in public places sometimes give me a run for my money now, but since those first 6 (maybe 12) months were so hard for me, it just keeps getting better and better and better. And I’m also fortunate that I have that group of moms who really get my experiences here in the blog world. With that, I can’t feel alone. 😉