Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why New Moms are Exhausted

I know many moms of four, five, and even six kids now, and the difference between New Moms: exhausted, forlorn and bedraggled in getting themselves out of the house by noon, and Moms of Many: bopping around with their mini vans and five kids to multiple events before noon, with the snacks, wipes and first aid kits always at hand, is night and day.
And it's not just because New Moms are up most of the night and trying to regain their sleep during the day. Let's be honest, after the first six to nine months that settles down and if it doesn't, as a Mom, you are doing something to perpetuate a disturbed sleep pattern. Turning on the light and letting your child play at three in the morning because they want to does not teach your child that it is time to sleep! But I know, as a new Mom, you don't know what the heck to do right? You just want to wear the kid out.

The reason why New Moms are so exhausted all the time is not just because they don't get enough sleep. It's because they think something is wrong 99% of the time and they are trying twenty different things to fix it. THAT is exhausting!
Moms of Many, having been through this version of chaos in one form or another, many times, know that 99% of the time everything is just fine, and if not, it will work itself out.

For example.
Me as a New Mom: young child gets a splinter that we find at bath time. New Dad and New mom me holds child down while child screams holy hell. Both child and I are crying, and Dad is getting angry, while I pick meticulously at tiny splinter for half an hour and child sobs uncontrollably. As torture continues, New Mom Me screams at child, child screams back, and finally I get the F-ing splinter out and retreat to huge glass of wine, wondering why the hell all parents aren't required to become paramedics before having children. Wine disturbs sleep and New Mom me blames it on child.

Me as Mom of many: child gets splinter. I look at it. Child whimpers and I kiss child and says it will work itself out over night. Child runs off to play while I sit and chat with a Mom friend. Splinter is out by morning.

Moms of many know that it will work out. If action is necessary, it's best just to do the easiest option.
Another example:

Me as a New Mom: see nails on infant are growing too long, uses clippers and nicks the skin. Both baby and I wail for twenty minutes and New Mom Me decides I am a loser hate myself for the rest of the day.I sign up for a CPR class and adds to one more thing I have to do for fear of maiming my baby. I desperately call my Mom friend about it and lament with her how I hurt my baby. It is the major trauma of the day. Daddy hears all about it at dinner. The worry wart factory kicks in around ten and New Mom me is still awake at midnight even though baby has been asleep since eight.

Me as a Mom of Many: see nails on infant are growing too long. Bite and peel them off myself while nursing baby, and reading to two older children.

Or another example:

Me as a New Mom: read all the sleep books and do the back and forth, bringing screaming toddler to the crib, thing several times a night.

Me as Mom of many: sleep all night...with toddler in a co sleeper beside my bed.

The thing is, you can only get to be a Mom of Many by being a New Mom first. Even if they happen simultaneously, you need to experience it yourself to get to that place where you don't freak out because your kid hit another kid or was hit. You need to experience the projectile vomiting yourself, the playing with the poo diapers, the eating of crayons, before you can be at ease with it all....or do you? Could you just create, as a New Mom, that you are the one who says how your life goes?
Life is uncertain and messy. But if you can be with that, you get power and peace of mind.

If I could go back to the New Mom I was or send this message to all New Moms out there, it would be, you can be however YOU want. Having a baby does not control you or your life. You are not a victim of your baby. YOU get to say how you react to this new wiggly, screaming milk and poop monster or biting toddler.

TRUST YOURSELF. 99% of the time everything really is exactly as it should be. And it is statistically impossible for it to be the 1% all the time. You are just creating that there is something wrong with YOUR kid if you do that. That is not empowering to either of you. YOU are the perfect mother for your child and you know your child best. You were meant to do this, you can, and you are. You created LIFE!

Kids are supposed to projectile vomit when they eat too much or need to get some bug out of their system. Kids are curious, they play with poo, bite and eat crayons. Thank God they are mobile and active and able to! Kids are even supposed to play, jump and fall. When they do, they get scraps and cuts and even break bones. It doesn't mean anything about you as a parent and you don't have to never ever let them play on that jungle gym again. Instead of making it wrong, make it a learning experience. You can handle whatever happens.

TRUST YOUR BABY. They are amazingly resilient. They don't care that you don't "get it right," they just care that you are there. They also won't fall apart if they don't nap at the exact minute that your sister is getting married. Even if they do cry or fuss, THEY WILL LIVE (just nurse him to keep him quiet). Don't miss out on life because you have a baby! Trust that your baby wants to be with you as you enjoy life!

TRUST YOUR FAMILY. They love and want to support you. Even if it seems like they are a threat to your baby because they do things you don't like, like swear sometimes. Your baby won't talk for years, and even then, having a baby is an opportunity for you to step up in your relationships and work things out with your family, not shut them out. Don't use your child as an excuse not to do things with them or your friends. People see through that and it strains relationships. (If you have to, just admit that YOU are tired and need a nap! They may even support you and play with the baby while you do!) Your baby benefits from new sights and sounds, being loved by other people and from you being responsible for your life, proud of yourself, stretching your capabilities and at peace with who you are in your relationships. Trust that your baby trusts you and your family members are there to support you.

TRUST THE WORLD too. You can't stop your child from getting hurt and that's not your job. You do the best you can, yes, but your child will get hurt. Things happen, living in this world, fun, adventure, wonders and new experiences, including hurt. Your job is to teach your child that they can trust themselves to handle it no matter what the hurt. (If you freak out they get scared and won't trust themselves or the world, REMAIN CALM) They will heal, they will learn, they will not only survive, but thrive.
Nothing is wrong. Your baby is perfect and so are you.
So put down the wine, drink some chamomile tea, trust yourself, enjoy life and the miracle you created, and get some sleep.

Sweet Dreams!

Zen Honeycutt

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