Please Stop Saying This To New Mums

We must remind ourselves that Mothers are fragile in the early days, especially first-timers. Sometimes all they need is empathy, not strangers demanding they 'enjoy' every minute of 'keeping a baby alive.' 

I’ve got one cracked nipple, one leaky boob, barf on my shirt, and haven’t showered in three days. It's 2:00PM and just spend 45 minutes trying to settle my baby before army rolling out of her nursery like a ninja so I could go slam a bowl of cereal for lunch, only to notice I’m out of milk.

Hi, you might know me. I’m a new Mother.

In order to stay alive for the next few days, I must use the rest of my energy reserves to pack the car and enter society. Dread settles upon me with this realisation.

Know what I’m guaranteed to hear at least once while I’m out shopping surviving?

“Enjoy this stage! It goes so fast!”

I’ll think to myself; “I sure as shit hope you’re right because this infant is literally trying to kill me.”

Do people say these things to folks as they train for marathons? Do little old ladies line the streets holding signs that read, “Enjoy this!” "No Pain no gain!" "It goes so fast!"??? Yeah-no.

I get it, the (mostly older) women (likely with grown children) at the shops are looking at me with glasses so rose-coloured that they may as well be staring through a glass of Merlot.

My Mother-in-law once described breastfeeding as "blissful" when the only word I had to describe it was “hell.” Maybe in 30 more years, I might remember it more fondly too.

I get it. The people, with the comments, they’re well-meaning. Their kids have left the nest, they reminisce about the good ole’ days. But as a new mother, I’m right in the shit.

Early days with my first baby felt like a game of emotional roulette. What would today trigger? Anxiety? Depression? Stress? I loved my baby, maybe too much, and had not enough left over for myself.

Three-and-a-half years later now, memories of that tough stuff faded a bit. Ah, the gift of forgetting, as they say. Why else would any sane woman go back and birth more children (like I’m about to do in 3 months time)? Maybe I’m looking through a glass of Rosé myself, though still decades from a Merlot or even a Pino Noir tint.

We must remind ourselves that Mothers are fragile in the early days, especially first-timers. Sometimes all they need is empathy, not strangers demanding they 'enjoy' every minute of 'keeping a baby alive.' 

I mean, I love my child more than anything which is why I haven’t left her on a stranger’s doorstep or given to rocking silently in a corner. Can’t I adore my kids and at the same time admit parenting is kind-of a bum deal?

Maybe try telling a new Mum it’s normal to find it hard. Tell her she is doing a great job, even if the baby is screaming as she fumbles with her wallet. Tell her to take her time. Tell her that it will get easier in some ways and harder in others.

I'm somewhere between the older woman at the checkout and the first-time Mum. Soon I’ll be back in the newborn fog and maybe a smile from an empathetic stranger might be all the fuel I need to make it five more minutes without a breakdown.

So if you see me, “The new Mum,” out in public, please don’t tell me to enjoy this. Maybe instead, tell me to keep up the good work.

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9 comments on “Please Stop Saying This To New Mums”

  1. Dawn - I loved that piece. You have such a gift for writing. Even at this age (84) I could relate to it. Think of you all
    often and so happy you put us on your mailing list. Lots of love Aunt Jo

    1. Thank you so much Aunt Jo! I'm thrilled and honored that you read my blog and even more so that you can relate to it. Love you lots and miss you tons! Xoxo

  2. Oh yep ain't that the truth! I've often thought (please ignore my thoughts if they are too messed up) that there should be a place where as new mothers we could pop the baby down a shoot to be cared for by all the delighted people while we bugger off for a few hours alone!!! Free of charge of course. And maybe a gin bar in the same street ? Joking (not really) aside, it's the hardest work, the new baby thang and there is NOT the right kind of support often. I often also think about the crazy kind of non reality people love to create around new motherhood. It ain't all sunshine and rainbows.
    That's not to say sometimes it is delightful but I think it's good to express all the feelings. I do.

    1. You had me at Gin bar. And I agree, there's not always the right support out there (especially if you are a transplant which I KNOW you understand). I'm sure there are mothers out there who do enjoy and soak it up, I would also wager that those lovely ladies are the ones who have supportive relatives nearby. I love Motherhood- as much as it sucks sometimes. I just want the right to call bullshit once in a while. <3 Love your face.

let's hang on the 'gram
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Dawn Rieniets is both a visual artist and brand copywriter. She uses her MA in English, journalism and sales background to craft engaging brand identity copy for small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) globally.

Dawn exhibits artwork independently and with groups; Thou Art Mum and Melbourne and Victorian Artists (MAVA). In her online store, you can find original pieces, wall art prints, and other home decor. A few times per year she accepted personalised and sentimental art commissions for clients.

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