Stop Telling Moms We'll Miss The Baby Years

It's 2pm on a Monday afternoon and I'm currently sitting in my rocking chair, breastfeeding my sleeping one year old.  His tiny hand is clutching my chest and his ribs are rising and falling softly, with his steady, deep and dream-filled breaths.  He is picture-perfect and wouldn't look out of place on the cover of a mummy-and-baby magazine, or featured in the latest "You'll Miss This" video doing the rounds on Facebook.

You know the type of video I mean, right?  The videos with soft focus and smiling cherub-faced babies crawling in and out of shot.  With relaxed mothers kissing tiny toes and playing peekaboo while words flash across the screen...

"The days may be long, but the years are short..."

"One day soon, it will be the last time you rock your little one to sleep..."

"You will look back on these years and rest assured, you will miss this!"

Let me tell you a secret: I hate these videos.

"You'll Miss This" videos have a lot to answer for.  Because they are, quite simply, utterly exploitative.

They are exploiting our mummy-hearts, consciences and fears.  They are tapping into our sleep-deprived vulnerabilities and bleeding us dry.

We will of course miss these soft baby cheeks and milk-drunk snoozes, but will we miss the sleepless nights? We will inevitably miss their tiny hands, wrapped up in ours, but will we miss not being able to hold an adult conversation without interruptions?  Seriously, will we miss the meltdowns? Will we really miss peeing with an audience?

By sticking to this one-dimensional script of motherhood, these videos are essentially shaming anybody who dares to step outside of the fuzzy, always-smiling maternal mould.

Well enough already, I'm stepping out of the mould.  Moms, it's ok to feel frustrated and burnt out.  It's human.  It's ok to look forward to a future filled with evenings out and undisturbed sleep...ah, sleep, how I remember you.  It's ok to live and love this phase with all of our hearts and souls, without a part of us dying when it's inevitably all over.

Because here's another secret: there are other phases.

This, right here, is where I get a little ranty.  Because "You'll Miss This" videos are only ever aimed at moms.  Won't dads miss this stage, too?  Apparently not.  Because dads are being sold an entirely different idea.  While we're being reminded of the ever-diminishing nature of our children's need for us, dads are being assured that they've got so very much to look forward to....their first ball game, teaching them to drive, walking her down the aisle...we've all seen the memes, right?  The ones with the smiling father rejoicing in his older child's presence.  Are we to assume that mom is positioned just off-camera, sobbing into a pit of despair about those now-lost baby years?

I'm calling bull on this messed up version of reality.  Because in truth, there will be aspects of every stage that we miss.  I miss the freedom, long showers and sleep available to me pre-children, but that doesn't detract from all of the blessings that are a part of this current season.

This season is hard.  Utterly exhausting.  And the last thing exhausted moms need is to be reminded to breathe in every special moment as if it's the last we'll ever see.  Because - dare I say it - not every special moment feels all that special.  My picture-perfect sleeping baby, for instance, is only asleep right now because he was awake all night with a virus, having puked all over me at around 3am, just before coughing directly into my mouth.  Parenting through sickness (literally), sleep-deprivation and the daily grind of meeting the needs of tiny and not-yet-rational humans is intensely difficult stuff!

These days will end, but here's the best part - our relationships with our children will not.  They will grow alongside our babies.  They will stretch and bend and accommodate and with all of that movement, we'll find that we've lost nothing.  Because change is not loss, it is simply a different season, coming and going, just as nature intended.

So the next time a "You'll Miss This" video raises it's all-too-perfect hand and points directly into your deepest mommy-soul, remind yourself that there is more to come. So very much more, and if you're really lucky, that "more" might even include sleep...

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Image: Motherly