I was shopping at Nordstrom last week when my daughter, who just recently turned two, threw one of her most epic temper tantrums I had ever witnessed. She wanted me to buy her three packages of the same bath toys. When I told her she was only getting one, she lost her freaking mind.
She threw herself on the floor and screamed as if she were a character that gets killed off in some cheesy horror movie. She kicked her feet, slammed her head off the ground, and cried in such a high pitch voice that I’m fairly confident only dogs in the surrounding tristate area could hear. It was honestly impressive.
So what did I do? I stepped right over her and continued to shop.
I got some judgmental looks, which I simply ignored. A few other women said things like, “I’ve been there.”
But one woman in particular walked up to me and said something extremely unhelpful. She looked at me with a snarky smile and said, “You think this is bad? Wait until she hits three. It’s only going to get worse.”
Thank you ma’am. That helps me zero.
I apologize in advance if you’re one of the people who have said any of the following statements to me. I also apologize to the women I’ve said these types of things to, because I’ve definitely been guilty of it.
“You think the terrible twos are bad? Wait until three.”
“You think you’re tired being pregnant? Wait until you have a newborn.”
“You think one kid is hard? Wait until you have two.”
What is it that compels us to scare the living shit out of other women?
First of all, everyone’s experience is different. You might have a newborn who sleeps like an angel and only wakes up to eat, then lulls himself right back into a deep slumber. Your child very well could go through a “terrible twos” stage and outgrow it by three. You might be pleasantly surprised by how your older child helps you with her younger sibling, and wonder how you ever did it with just one kid.
Realistically, once you bring that newborn baby home, you’re probably going to be the most tired you’ve ever been in your entire life. Nothing can prepare you for the exhaustion of the first few months when you’re caring for a newborn. But, it’s not anyone’s job to try to prepare you by telling you how hard it’s going to be.
What is helpful, is WHILE we’re in the throws of adjusting to becoming a parent, we reassure each other that it WILL get better. Every phase is exactly that; a phase. It’s all temporary. You WILL sleep for more than two hours at a time again. You WILL feel like yourself again. You WILL master this and become a sensei of parenthood.
I was in a wedding last year and caught myself telling one of the pregnant bridesmaids about how horrific my labor and delivery were. I watched the color run out of her face. The poor girl was like 37 weeks pregnant and my war story was the LAST thing she needed to hear.
As I watched her grow extremely uncomfortable, I snapped back to reality and wanted to punch myself in the face. Why would I ever tell her what could go wrong during labor and delivery? Why couldn’t I just shut my fucking mouth?
I apologized like crazy and tried to take it back, but the words were already out there. The statement “my epidural didn’t work…” was just hanging over our heads like a black cloud of terror.
I hated myself for doing the exact thing I couldn’t stand that women did to me while I was pregnant. I vowed to never say shit like that again.
Mickey was a colicky baby who didn’t sleep for the first four months of her life. Actually, she did just about nothing other than cry for the first four months of her life. I was so incredibly thankful for the women in my life who comforted me and promised me it would get better. And, guess what? It did.
Now that I have a toddler, we’re up against new challenges; namely tantrums. And here I am, in a new phase, extremely grateful for the women who encourage me that, this too shall pass.
So for anyone who has heard that what they’re going through is only going to get harder, please let me reassure you that it might not, and even if it does, it’s temporary. And you are strong enough to handle it. And if anyone tries tells you otherwise, cover your ears and scream “LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!!!”