Being a new parent is tough. It’s about learning navigating a whole new part of your life. You will not be short of people offering advice and offhand comments. “Just Wait” is one of my personal favourites. Or, least favourite should I say.
It starts in pregnancy and gets worse from there.
My first “Just Wait” was the result of my complaining about tiredness during pregnancy. I was up all night with morning sickness during the first half of my pregnancy and reflux during the second half. I was getting worried about being too exhausted to give birth when near the end of my pregnancy, I was uncomfortable, refluxy and beyond tired. I suffer from vertigo and being overtired triggers that and I was terrified of getting a bad bout of it while pregnant.
Just wait until the baby is here, you’ll be tired then!
Just thinking about it makes my blood boil.
These types of comments are:
It doesn’t make anyone feel better, it just sounds like a nasty dig and then I end up feeling like I cannot express how I feel.
People like to show off what they know in general and in parenting, that’s amplified. People love to tell us what’s best and roll their eyes at our naivety. It comes across as so patronising to tell us our problems are about to get worse but we just lack the life experience to know it yet.
Sucking joy out of parenthood
Pregnancy and the journey to becoming a parent should be a happy time! Yes, it is difficult at times but can’t we just be positive and join in on the excitement of new parents without ruining the joy?
They invalidate your feelings
Sometimes we need someone to listen to how we are feeling and say ‘hey, that sounds really crappy’. We are allowed to feel things. And during pregnancy, we feel things A LOT.
Saying things like wait until the baby is here just makes us feel like the problem isn’t a big deal. While it may not be a massive deal in the scheme of things, a lack of sleep can really make you feel emotional and physically ill. Being tired isn’t a competition, either. Just because someone else is more tired, doesn’t make your own tiredness less!
It makes us feel stupid
Saying ‘just wait until’ makes us feel stupid for not knowing better. Really, we know that having a child is difficult and those difficulties change over time.
All the “Just Waits” I’ve had
- Just wait until he’s here and you can’t lie down
- Just wait until he’s got teeth and bites (when breastfeeding hurts/is hard)
- Just wait until he doesn’t want to sleep on you anymore
- Just wait until he’s crawling and into everything
- Just wait until he’s standing and gabbing everything
- Just wait until he’s walking and you’re chasing him around
- Just wait until he talks and starts saying no
- Just wait until he’s a toddler
- Just wait until he’s a teenager
It seems like these Just Waits go on and on and on until the end of time and it makes it hard to enjoy parenthood or to feel listened to in our struggles.
Parenting is hard
I’m not denying that at all. Having a baby is the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it’s so full-on. It’s 24/7, with no rest and being tired.
Every stage of your child’s life holds different challenges. I don’t believe they’re harder than the ones before, they’re just different and they require a bit of adjusting. You have to change the logistics of your day to accommodate your baby’s new skills. Like how you shower when your baby outgrows the bouncer or how you nip to the toilet when they won’t stay still.
But it’s also amazing. They smile at you, they hug back, they run over to you with their arms wide and it gives you that energy boost you need. It reminds you that it’s worth it.
Not everyone has the same experience
I have so many friends that say that loved the newborn stage and it was so easy! I have to admit that I hated the newborn stage. Leo wouldn’t sleep and would not be put down. He had a witching hour where he cried from about 5 pm – 10 pm. I had to eat my food with one hand and he wouldn’t sleep unless I was holding him.
Yes, he was cute but I much prefer the stage he’s at now. Anything after 3 months was miles better!
But not everyone has the same experience and not all babies are the same. So take it with a pinch of salt. You cannot predict how well your baby will sleep, if they’ll struggle with reflux if they’ll cry a lot or be content, or if they’ll struggle with sleep regressions and be really difficult during teething.
People are relating it to their experience
Most of the time when people say ‘just wait until’… they are thinking about how unprepared they were. It’s often more a reflection of their experience than trying to be patronising or annoying! But as I said above, not everyone has the same experience. So take it with a pinch of salt.
Your hormones get you through
I cannot believe the power of hormones and how your emotions change when you have a baby. It is an intense love and it does get you through the hard times.
It’s easy to look after your child. In a sense that you want to love and nurture them no matter what. Even when you’re tired and it’s difficult, your instincts will allow you to put your child first without even thinking about it.
The rewards are worth it
There is a reason that people still have children despite all the bad press parenthood gets. And that’s because there is no feeling like it. It gives you a sense of purpose and meaning and watching them grow up is pure. There’s nothing better than watching your child experience something for the first time, or for them to run up to you with their arms open.
I’m not saying that we should sugarcoat parenthood and only talk about the good, but there really is an appropriate time and place to give parenting advice or set expectations. And that is not the when a new Mum hasn’t slept more than 2 hours in 2 weeks and can’t see an end in sight.
It should come when asked, or during a conversation with trusted friends and family.