You don’t know tired.

That’s what I heard countless times, over and over, when I told people that exhaustion was one of my worst pregnancy symptoms.

Just wait until the baby comes. Then you’ll know what tired is.

For the majority of my pregnancy, I slept 12 hours per night and snuck in naps whenever I could. And I was still exhausted every. waking. moment.

Did I mention I also fell asleep at a pro football game? No, not watching it from my couch. I literally fell asleep in the stands.

But I didn’t know tired. Surely, I was exaggerating and making up this symptom. How tiring can it really be to . . . you know, grow a human?

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I wanted to tell them they were wrong, all those people who discounted my exhaustion. I wanted to tell them this was different, unlike anything you could imagine, but I didn’t. After all, they were the experts, right? They already had kids. I was new to this whole thing.

Well, to everyone who told me this over and over: you were wrong.

Can we stop telling pregnant women and moms to “just wait” please?

Just wait until the baby is here. You’ll never sleep again.

Just wait until she starts walking. You’ll wish she would stay still.

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Just wait until she talks. You’ll wish she didn’t know how call your name every five seconds.

Just wait until she’s a teenager. Then you’ll really have your hands full. These toddler years are nothing.

Just wait, just wait, just wait . . . 

JUST STOP.

It doesn’t come from a place of malice, but it does do harm. It invalidates parents; it makes them feel like they’re not allowed to be struggling. Like they shouldn’t feel the way they do because someday in the future, it’s going to get worse.

It also makes it hard for parents to just be in the moment and enjoy their babies in whatever developmental stage they’re in. 

How about we tell pregnant women and new moms to enjoy the moment? Let’s tell them to stop, take a look around, and bask in the glory of their growing bellies, their babies, their toddlers.

How about we tell them how fun it is to experience each new milestone? Let’s tell them what a blessing it will be when their babies can talk and how fun it will be to learn more about them every day.

How about we tell them that the good will far outweigh the bad? Let’s tell them that some days they’ll look around the house and wonder what they did all day but in the eyes of their toddlers, they did everything.

How about we tell them that these are the good old days. Let’s tell them that their children are making joyful childhood memories and they’re the heroes of every single one.

How about we tell moms they’re doing a great job, right here in this moment.

Let’s tell them they were hand-chosen to be the best possible mom for this baby.

RELATED: Hey, Tired Mama? You’re Doing a Great Job.

Wherever you’re at in your journey, no matter how tired you are, your feelings are valid. Whether you’re on year five of trying to have a baby and you’re beyond emotionally exhausted, or you were up all night with the baby and still have to face the day ahead, your feelings are valid.

So next time someone tells you how tired they are, here’s an idea: show them some empathy. Ask them what you can do to lighten their load a little bit.

Maybe, just maybe, you don’t actually know how tired they truly are.

Alicia Betz

Alicia is a freelance writer and former teacher. She specializes in parenting, education, and pets. She has a bachelor's and master's in education and also runs a freelance writing business. You can usually find her hiking, working out, going to the movies, or writing with a napping toddler on her lap.