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May 25, 2010

Reality check for new moms

J0442218 Despite being only 29 weeks pregnant, I seem to have the biggest belly in my prenatal yoga class -- and also the longest history as a parent. As far as I can tell, the rest of the folks who show up on Sundays at noon are all first-time moms. They are generally chipper and perky but do their share of complaining about being tired of being pregnant. All feelings are valid, don't get me wrong. I just can't resist throwing in a few dashes of perspective here and there.

I realize there is usually a belittling side to the "just you wait" sort of advice that already-parents give, as though the expectant parent's current existence is just silly and insignificant. In my comments about mom life, I'm not trying to convey that kind of Debbie Downer perspective or dismissive attitude. I just want to give some context but without sounding annoying in the other direction, as in an overt "Enjoy it now!"

But I do want these women to enjoy it now. Life is different when you have a little one depending on you for just about everything. So when one mom talked about having finally gotten a decent night's sleep and how much of a difference that makes -- I gather she's been having trouble lately -- I offered, "I wish for you not to go for two years without a stretch of sleep longer than five hours." I do wish that for her. And for me. And for everyone. But it was rough for us, and I get so annoyed with people talking about babies sleeping through the night at a few months old, I do feel like folks need to hear some other realities being spoken so they don't think they are doing something wrong.

Our yoga teacher tasked us with all sharing something happy when we did introductions.

"I'm Jessica, 29 weeks, and yesterday my husband took our son to an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. They were gone from 9 to 6, and that is the longest I've had the house to myself in four years. It was great. So if you enjoy solo time without interruptions or having to pick someone up, relish that now."

I offer some of these things because I knew few people with kids other than my sisters when I became a mom. I learned a lot from the details I gleaned from moms with older children when I took my baby to La Leche League meetings, Attachment Parenting meetings, moms group playgroups and the like. I dismissed some of the stories at the time as not applicable to me, only to recall them months or even years later. Others I told my husband about right after the fact, and we made conscious decisions based on hearing other people's experiences. In any case, being around experienced moms has been an important part of my parenting journey.

In any case, I hope I didn't come off as a self-absorbed mom who believes women's experiences don't count until their babies are out of their bodies. We are all on our own paths, and no one point is more important than another.

But it is interesting to be around all these newbies, and I can't help but hear in my head the sing-song voice of a snotty kid on the playground saying to a younger one, "I know something you don't know!"

Original to DC Metro Moms Blog

Jessica Claire/Claire Jess blogs about life with one foot in the natural living world and the other in mainstream suburbia at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.

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