4x simple words that have become the best parenting advice I’ve ever been given
“No stage is permanent”
I remember my sister in-law visiting in the early days of becoming a first time mum. I was feeling very fragile, very out of my depth and petrified that this was a feeling that would never go away.
See my 5 week old had become sick. Not really sick but enough to scare me and make me feel guilty that I hadn’t kept her away from said germs (irrational as this may be this is what goes through mums heads). I remember 6 weeks being sprouted as the golden age when it was ‘safe’ to venture out. I hadn’t done anything outrageous but there had been visitors and I did take her out with me. For I am someone that used to go stir crazy at home for a whole day (I have learnt to let go of this now haha)
So on top of the usual new baby hurdles I added some serious Mummy guilt for not stopping ANY germs being in my baby’s vicinity.
I have a vivid memory of crying to my SIL and asking if it gets easier…
Her reply has stuck with me and become somewhat of a mantra that I have passed on to other Mums.
With a very serious expression she said ‘Rachel, no stage is permanent. Whether the challenge is breastfeeding, sleeping, settling, changing nappies, reflux or any other little road bump, none will last forever. And you are doing an amazing job’
For me this was a light bulb moment.
I know there are two schools of thought here; there are those of us who like to be told at the peak of the gym class
‘just 10 more seconds and your done. Awesome! Now 10 more’
and there are those of us who just want to know the EXACT amount of time left and push to that end point only.
These are the people who do not work well when the goal posts are moved and who despise the gym instructor who thinks it is ‘motivating’ to keep moving said goal posts.
This is me to a tee. I can push through, ignore pain, tiredness, discomfort etc. as long as I know where the end point is! This is not usually possible in the world of parenting, no one can tell you exactly when your child will sleep through the night or stop wanting a feed. So when there is no definable end point, the next best thing is being able to tell yourself it won’t be forever.
It gave me a lifeline to hold on to because in those early weeks I honestly felt like I was going to be this tired forever.
This sore, forever.
This anxious, forever.
For some, the first weeks of their baby’s life is filled with adoration (sleeplessness, sure), but it’s something they look back on with fond memories. I do not! I did not enjoy those first few weeks, it felt like a nightmare. I was in a lot of pain, breastfeeding was bloody hard and then this tiny being was dependent on me and everyone assumes that you know what they need, when in fact you have known this little human for just as long as anyone else. So if they’re clueless you perhaps are too.
My SIL was of course right, it did get easier. Sure one challenge has usually been replaced by another, but that is still the point I guess, none of them stayed forever.
Over the past 4 years I have often stopped and given myself a stern talking to with a firm reminder ‘this will not last forever’.
It has gotten me through a lot. And continues to as we enter into the four going on fourteen fun and games.
So if you know a new Mum or even one who is just struggling a bit with whatever road bump/massive obstacle they’ve been thrown in their parenting, share these 4x little words with them.
It pulled me out of many an abyss and so my hope in sharing it is that it will pull someone else out too-
Parenting is equally parts amazing and an exhausting daily challenge so we need to support each other all we can.