Awake every hour and a half through the night. ✔️
Get peed on. Check. Twice? ✔️✔️
Poopy diaper smell that seems to be lingering. ✔️
Is that rotten milk smell you? 🤮
Sometimes being a parent is rough. We have another human being who is brand new in this world running our schedules and bodily fluids will most likely end up on our person at least once throughout the day. If not more. You’re still learning about this tiny little being that just came into your life, most likely while still in pain from birth, and have never gotten so little sleep in your entire life. So you go to vent to Aunt Suzie about how you’re just so tired and have no idea how poop ended up on the wall on the opposite side of the room from the changing table. Only to get slammed with “you’re going to miss this. Cherish it while you can.”
Toxic positivity has no place in comforting parents who are in the thick of it.
ALERT, ALERT – It is okay to think that this stage of parenting sucks! Mamas, you are still an amazing mother, even if you don’t enjoy every second of it. Daddys, you are still an amazing father, even if you don’t enjoy every second of it.
Caring for a new baby and being a parent in general brings on so much stress and strain, that being told to appreciate it all just adds to the mental battle that parents are facing anyway everyday. New babies bring new hormones for everyone involved. It’s hard to navigate the floods of hormones, emotions, and new tasks that are brought into your life when a new baby comes around all while keeping the rest of your life up and going as well. And newsflash, just because it’s your second, or third, or sixteenth baby, doesn’t mean that you should feel invalid in feeling like this is all new again. Each child is it’s own person who is going to bring their own opinions into this world and create their own habits that will be different from your other child(ren)s.
Toxic positivity that you have to love every moment with your baby isn’t healthy for you.
We all need to be able to accept and feel our feelings WITHOUT being told that we are wrong for feeling them. Being told that we should love this time while we don’t is so isolating. Because we’ve been told we should be LOVING this stage, we fake it to our medical providers and to those asking how everything is going. We don’t feel like we actually get to admit our true feelings about everything that is currently going on. You think that you just have to fake it until you make it, until you start to love every moment of this.
Can we all agree it’s time to leave this form of “comfort” in the past?
By saying that parenthood has to be a positive experience and forcing others to find a silver lining, we invalidate the feelings people are experiencing. Instead,let parents vent about their day. Let them know that we know this stage is hard, and while we know they can do it and will get through it, right now they might need a little more mental support and help. Ditch the toxic invalidation of parent’s feeling like human beings, and instead, listen.
Need some ideas on what to say instead?
Mama: “I’m just so tired. Baby was up every half hour last night.”
Option 1: “That is so hard.”
Option 2: “Would you like me to hold the baby so you can go take a nap today?”
Option 3: “You are an amazing mom. I’m sorry this is so hard right now.”
Dad: “I think I’ve been peed on, pooped on, and spit up on today.”
Option 1: Offer to hold the baby while the parent gets a shower & clean clothes.
Option 2: Offer to do some laundry, there is always laundry to be done with a baby.
Option 3: “That is sucky.”
Of course, depending on the parent, there could be some other options as well. Some parents will want you to take the baby while they get something done. Other’s might be more comfortable with the baby while you help them with other tasks. Some just need some words of affirmation and comfort. Some might want you to joke with them about it while also acknowledging that their feelings are valid.
In any case, let’s acknowledge that it is okay for them to feel their feelings or to be upset about how parenting is going first and foremost. And leave the toxic positivity at the door.