Before I became a parent, I was under the
impression illusion babies and young children consistently slept for hours on end during the day, lying down comfortably in their cots or carrycots or prams.
Yes, even those children who would not sleep at night, gave their parents the gift of naptime, from where I stood.
I was also under the impression that parenthood gave you some sort of access to a secret energy potion like Obelix’s, which allowed parents to run whole profitable businesses exclusively during naptime.
Needless to say, I knew nothing (Jon Snow).
Spoiler alert, there’s no secret potion. There’s no potion. In my case, there was also no energy. Or textbook naptime, mainly because most books are written by the people whose babies did everything in paragraph one. Other parents have no time for writing books. Or reading books, for that matter!
But let’s start with the good.
There were naps. Yes. And I got a lot out of them. I got to soak up my baby boy, to feel his gentle sleeping body on me, to smell his little baby head. I got to catch up on some sleep myself and watch every single series going on Netflix. 10 seasons? Not a problem, I’m game! Most importantly, I got to stay put, chill and enjoy the moment.
If I had to sum it up, I’d say I got none of the things I thought I wanted, but I most definitely got all the things I needed and all the things I now know I would want – slow time with my baby.
All of the above was priceless and if we’re fortunate enough to become parents to more than one child, I will definitely be a parent that way again.
That said, I didn’t choose to be that parent. My baby, clearly knowing his mama needed a dose of reality and calm, made me that parent.
In the beginning, I often felt like a failure for not achieving all these other things, like blogging once a day, keeping an engaging instagram account, sew several baby outfits a week, have an immaculate home, and cook for several guests on a regular basis.
I was following my gut in what I did (and I’m so grateful I did), but my head could not keep up. My head wanted all the things I’d been promised by a slew of misinformation and following people who did have all the energy, or all the help, or the mythical baby you read about in books.
My head could also not see all the things I did accomplish – a loved happy baby, a house move with a newborn, knitted baby hats for the local neonatal unit, several homemade dairy-free pavlovas, and rest. REST!
The problem were my expectations, of course. Pointless expectations and endless comparisons that led nowhere and did not reflect, I now know, all the possible realities of being a parent.
My newborn baby had to show me the way, which was lovely for me. We were both new at this mother/child thing, admittedly one of us had a tad more life experience, but it only goes to show that seniority does not always equal wisdom!
If you too are struggling to ‘achieve all the things’, know you’re not alone. Know you’re achieving, you’ll see it soon enough. Know the reason you don’t see more people like you around the internet or hear their stories is because they’re not on the internet – like you, they’re chilling under a snuggly baby, only able to use one finger for scrolling. But they exist. Promise!