A friend of mine recently asked me how motherhood was treating me. After I was done gushing, she asked me another question that took me by surprise: “I know you love your baby, but what about babyhood, do you like that?”
I have heard a lot of parents complaining about how difficult babyhood is, and how many struggle with the feelings of guilt when they feel like they need a break from their babies. But what if what they really need is a break from babyhood? If babyhood was defined by 12-hours nights, predictable nap schedules, extremely regular eating times, independent play, and slowly progressing mental development rather than painful leaps, we would probably never want a break from our babies.
But, well, babyhood is a completely different ballgame, and really unpredictable, challenging, and exhausting—mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually—one, at that. And I have a feeling that’s what we need a break from.
Similarly, some parents sometimes feel like they even hate their babies, when perhaps what they hate is babyhood. I very recently had to deal with a friend who felt likes she was a terrible mother because she hated her baby sometimes. While I couldn’t blame her for feeling hatred, I reflected with her about how, perhaps, she hated babyhood—the non-stop crying, the constant clinginess, the fights to get her baby to eat, sleep, dressed, and diapered. It didn’t take long for her to realise that was it; she loves her baby, but boy, does she hate babyhood!
It makes everything a little easier when we identify the “culprit” as babyhood, not our babies. When our baby recently went through a mental leap, my husband and I felt so bad for her, going through that pain and not understanding what was going on. Just imagine: you are used to living in a 2D, black-and-white world, and suddenly, you wake up one morning and everything is in 3D and in colour. That’s confusing, to say the least!
Similarly, it really became easier for my friend because her and her husband started empathising with their baby, and it went from them versus baby, to them and baby versus the world. And just that made something massive shift in both my friend and her husband: the guilt about the wrongly perceived feeling that they don’t love their baby made way instead for patience and understanding for the tough times their baby was going through, and a united front to deal with the difficulties of babyhood.
Now, does this work for the teenage years? I’d love to hear from moms both of babies and teenagers—you can either comment below or send me a line at saharsblog (at) gmail (dot) com!