I’m going to confess something that might make a lot of mommies gasp: I don’t love the baby stage.
I know, I can hear the sharp intake of breaths and the clutching of chests from here. It’s like sacrilege in the mommy world, and I have often felt too ashamed to even admit it.
But it’s true. It’s not that I don’t like babies (I do) or that I didn’t love my babies (of course I did). I just don’t looooove the baby stage.
It might be because both of my babies were extremely fussy, and as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), that is really draining for me. Or it might be because I thrive on structure and routine, and babies . . . well, they have a way of not really caring about any of that.
Whatever the reason, the first year is very hard for me. The constant crying, the round-the-clock feedings, the complete dependence, the upheaval of my routine, and the challenges to my productivity. All of that makes it really hard for me to enjoy the baby stage.
And I have found myself thinking, “Oh, it’ll be so nice when he can . . . ” or “I can’t wait for this phase to be over . . . ” or “I’ll be happy when . . . ”
But one thing I’m learning as my oldest enters the preschool years and as I talk with other moms is that each age comes with its own challenges and struggles. Sure, there may be ages you delight in than others—for some it’s the newborn stage, for others it’s the toddler years or the teenage years—but none of them are easy. And if I’m not careful, I will spend their entire childhood wishing the years away, waiting for happiness.
And I don’t want to do that. I want to be a joyful mom now. I want to make the most of motherhood now. I want to be happy now.
I don’t want to put off enjoying my kids to a future stage that may or may not be any easier, any more comfortable, than the one I’m in now. And I don’t want to squander the meantime. I don’t want to spend months or years of their lives (and mine) wishing for the future when I could instead learn to appreciate the present. Even when it’s hard.
Every age has its difficulties, some more felt or pronounced than others, but every age has its delights, as well. And each and every stage has the potential to bring joy. We just have to look for it.
This doesn’t mean we have to love every phase. We are who we are, and our struggles are as unique as they are inherent. What is easy for one mom may be draining for another, and what one mom revels in may bring another to her knees. We cannot change who we are or what we are naturally disposed to feel.
But we can always, no matter who we are, no matter how we feel, choose the pursuit of joy. In all circumstances and in every season of motherhood.
We can be intentional about looking for the good, we can take our thoughts captive and feed the positive, and we can embrace the current season even as we look forward to the next.
It doesn’t make me a bad mom that I don’t love the baby stage. It’s a particularly difficult one for my personality type and physical make-up. I can’t help that.
But even though it’s not my favorite, I will not wish it away. And I will make the most of it, continuing my pursuit of joyful motherhood just as I will in each and every season. Even when it’s hard.
Because I don’t want to wait to be happy.