Let’s face it: this is a topic not a lot of people want to talk about.
I don’t see it in the media, there’s almost nothing about it on social networks and almost none of it is discussed on blogs. Only the people unafraid of the judgement will dare speaking about it in a non-judgmental way, unafraid of other’s reaction will write a blog post or record a podcast – and actually publish it. It’s an itchy topic.
Luckily for you and me, I like dabbing into the uncomfortable veils that surround certain things about parenting. None of it should be skipped. There’s a lot of first-time parents out there struggling. The last thing they need is going online and finding that there’s apparently something wrong with them.
Some people may mention it along the lines of “the time we had before our baby was great, but it’s nothing compared to life with our little one with us” or “we didn’t know what we were missing out on until we had our baby”. They’re all true, and that’s okay.
For a new parent, waking up at 2am for the eighth time – knowing it’s not the last one – it’s hard to think about all the love and happiness they have in their lives now. It’s not impossible, but it’s extremely difficult.
Those new parents need to know that it’s okay. All their feelings are normal, expected and valid. That’s my mission statement – to break the illusion created by social media. We all love our children unconditionally, yes. Our lives are tenfold, hundredfold better than before. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Still, it’s difficult.
If you’re new to all this (and even if you’re a seasoned parent who’s been feeling this way for a while), know that you’re not alone.
Having a baby isn’t just a new beginning – it’s also kind of an ending. The life before your child is over. Even though your kids will grow up and inevitably go their way one day, once you have that time again, you’ll be a different person. Yes, you’ll be older, but different regardless of that. You won’t come back to the life you had when you were in your twenties or thirties. The sooner you come to terms with that, the easier it will be.
If a part of life has ended forever, is it not perfectly acceptable to go through grief in order to say goodbye?
Has anyone who’s ever lost someone or something been advised to push their feelings deep down because it’s wrong to be sad? Have they been told they should be grateful for everything else in their life, therefore, they shouldn’t be sad because of what they’ve lost?
Of course not!
Even though it sounds depressing in a way, treat your previous life like a loss – regardless of the new beginning. Allow yourself to go through the stages of grief:
- denial (What’s the worse that can happen? How much can such a small baby change your life, anyway?)
- anger (I’m so tired and exhausted! This isn’t fair!)
- bargaining (Hmm, maybe my husband can get up at night during the weekend…)
- depression (I’m never going to sleep, go out or have any form of life again.)
- acceptance (I like to think I’m here)
I’ve gone through all of them and I’ve finally, after one year, reached the point of accepting my life. Even though I love it. Regardless of the happiness it’s brought me. Despite of never having it any other way.
I’ve still lost something. All parents do.
We lose sleep, the type of relationship we previously had with our partners, places we used to go to, things we used to spend time on – and for me, the most impacting – the feeling of only being responsible for yourself.
Having another human being depending with their life upon your own choices is game-changing. It’s beautiful, it changes you, but it’s also terrifying. Every single thing you do now affects someone else in a way. Even if it doesn’t, you’re still finding yourself in the position to wonder if it will. (“Will this cup of coffee affect my milk?” – so many of us have been there with similar thoughts!)
Don’t let anyone take you on a guilt trip when it comes to this. You’re going through a process of changing the structure of your whole life. In no time, your little one will not be so little anymore. You’ll do things together, talk, laugh and be best of friends – only if you put an effort into it.
The hardships won’t pass – there will always be new challenges and things to go through.
It will be beautiful, too, because of so many good things coming your way.