Wishing The Time Away

When we came home from the hospital, I was thankful that the car ride was over. The entire time I had been gripping on to my daughter’s car seat, terrified that something might happen to her.

We climbed up the three flights of stairs to our crummy apartment, said goodbye and thank you to the family members who had driven us home, and sat ourselves on the living room floor, next to our 2 days old baby, still sleeping in her car seat.

We looked at each other and said; “What now?”

Since then, we have struggled with the newborn stage, or what is commonly described as the ‘fourth trimester’. We have cried, argued, laughed, smiled and barely slept. We have been there for her non-stop.

Our daughter is now seventeen weeks old. She’s learning to grab, play, roll over and babble. It’s amazing to watch and I love every moment of it.

That said, sometimes I put here in her bouncer or her swinging musical chair to give myself a break. Sometimes I sit next to her whilst she’s on her play mat, but not interacting with her much. Sometimes I just need that moment to myself.

There is a part of me that feels incredible, overwhelming guilt when I have stuck her in the bouncer for half an hour in front of the TV. I call myself a lazy mother, an unloving mother, an incapable human being.

I feel like I need to be entertaining her, teaching her or comforting her 24 hours a day, and that is simply impossible. I need my me-time, even if that is just fifteen minutes of having a cup of tea and eating a snack.

There’s so much pressure for mums to be doing everything with their children (alongside looking after the house, cooking, laundry, working… you name it). There are play groups to attend, baby classes, toddler classes, parenting books to read. There’s a lot of pressure to do things perfectly and to be there, soaking up every possible moment.

From what I have seen, during my 4am desperate scrolling through parenting forums, is that yes, lots of parents have similar problems; sleep regression, colic, etc; but not many of them talk about how they are really feeling. Not many parents discuss how they wish for time to speed up, for their child to become more independent, for time to be their own again.

Ever since we brought her home, we have been counting down the days until the next milestone. When she was a newborn, three months was our big goal – we simply couldn’t wait until the ‘fourth trimester’ was over and done with. We naively were expecting lots of big changes – there were some but we expected a lot more. Now that she is approaching four months, we can’t wait for her six month milestone. We are desperate for her to be able to sit up and properly engage with her toys, just so that we can use that opportunity to have a break or even, dare I say it, do something for ourselves.

Each time we talk to each other about how we can’t wait for her to be older, we feel like shit parents, even shit human beings. We are wishing away time with her, wishing away these early days and weeks and months because they feel so damn hard.

On several occasions, we have been told; “the days are long but the years are short.” And damn right, the days are long. The first few weeks felt like one long, incredibly hard day. But holy shit, I can’t wait for her first birthday. I imagine a blossoming one year old, wobbling around, playing by herself and with her parents, happy to sit or investigate, whatever takes her fancy. It may be incredibly naïve of me (I’m sure most of what I am saying is), but a one year old sounds like heaven to me, compared to my somewhat lump of a 4 month old, who is desperate to move but can’t.

And yes, I know she’ll only be a baby once, and that I should “enjoy it while it lasts”, but what exactly am I supposed to be enjoying? Yes, she smiles and laughs and her face lights up and she gets excited, but that is only 25% of the time. The other 75% is spent needing to feed, needing to be held, pooping, fighting sleep, and sleeping.

I admit that I do want to speed up time. Sometimes I want to skip this part altogether and get to the part where she’s old enough to share a bottle of wine with me, but equally I feel guilty, and have a fear of missing out. Though most of the time (that 75%) I am imagining the future, I don’t want to get to that point and regret not being present in the past, in this moment.

So as a new mum of a four month old, all I can do is my best without burning myself out. Like any job, breaks are necessary and I can’t do every single damn thing that society expects from a mother. Some days no chores will be done, some days frozen food for dinner will suffice. Other days I won’t have the energy for play groups, and when we are stuck inside due to bad weather, sticking a film on isn’t the worst thing in the world.

The future will come eventually – I just need to give myself permission to enjoy the now, as much as I can.

4 Comments

  • The first few months are so difficult for any new parent, I remember I couldn’t wait until it would be 6 months and there would be more interaction etc. Your first baby changes your life, completely and forever, and that takes some adapting to, but it is so true that while it is all-consuming at the time, you will wake up one day and will wonder where the time went and will have forgotten most of what you are feeling now. Seeing your child grow, learn, develop, smile, laugh and reveal their personality to you day-by-day is the most wonderful, amazing thing in the world, but parenting is hard! For that reason, try not to be so hard on yourself, you do need to look after yourself too. I’m sure you’re a wonderful mother Lauren!

  • This is something I struggle with as well, as a fellow mum of a 17-week old. I’m lucky to be one of the last among my friends to have kids, though, and they have all said they had the same concerns. I don’t even put my daughter in a bouncer (we don’t have one); she usually just lies on the floor with a few soft toys around her, and I do feel horribly guilty about it sometimes. But then, when I am thinking clearly, I recognize that I can’t look after her properly if I’m exhausted and don’t have any time for myself. And I also think it’s good for them to learn and explore independently. It sounds like you are doing a good job. I’ve been thinking about that phrase recently & realizing that motherhood is a job – and just like any other job, it’s not going to be fun all the time even if it is a dream job.

    Thank you for being brave and sharing so honestly on here. I am rubbish at commenting, but have felt much of what you’ve written the past few months.

    • I especially feel guilty when the night has been practically sleepless (thank you 4 month sleep regression) and all I wanna do is eat and sleep and be a zombie on the sofa – but of course, I can’t do that, as I need to feed, change, rock and entertain my daughter, so sometimes she does sit on her mat maybe a bit too long (who can say what is too long?) so that I can have a little bit of a break. But as you say, I wouldn’t be looking after her as well as I could without those breaks anyway! It’s just such a difficult balance.
      So glad you feel the same (kinda, cos it’s so hard!). I barely get time to read other blogs let alone comment, so I appreciate it a lot!

  • I so admire your honesty. I’m not a mother, but I know plenty of them, and I know that they have all felt this way. I think that every parent has their golden age. Baby maybe just isn’t yours and that’s okay.

    Sending you so much love and cheering you on!!

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