Dear Is This Normal,
When my child reaches developmental milestones I cry instead of being happy. She’s growing so fast I feel like I didn’t get to enjoy her being a baby. Is this normal?
Dear Melancholy Mama,
Oh, the agony and the ecstacy of raising a little human! The days are long, but the years are short, and it feels like you blink and suddenly your sweet little babe is walking and talking and moving quickly into big kid territory. It certainly doesn’t help that those early weeks and months aren’t exactly a cakewalk. In so many ways, you’re just trying to get through them, constantly moving toward the light at the end of the tunnel when your baby’s colic resolves or they start sleeping through the night or you don’t have to pump every two hours in a 24-hour cycle to make sure your little one has enough milk at daycare. It’s HARD to enjoy those moments for a lot of parents, and as we march on, we can miss a lot of the little beautiful moments that make parenting worth every single damn struggle. It is SO normal to feel some sadness when your baby hits their milestones, because it’s evidence that babies just don’t keep, and we only get to have them in these stages for a short while. So many parents can relate to this, mama, I promise you that.
It can also be hard to enjoy those early months if you’re one of the millions of women who suffer from a postpartum mood disorder. Postpartum depression or anxiety can rob us of the joy we should be experiencing when our babies are babies. It’s also not uncommon for PPD or PPA to cause you to stress out or obsess over milestones as they happen. So when your baby gets their first tooth, instead of thinking, “Oh my gosh, my baby has a tooth, how cute is that?!”, you might think something along the lines of, “How does my baby only have one tooth, they’re already so far behind.” Instead of being elated that their first word was mama, if you have a PPMD, that single word might send you into a spiral about how many words your baby isn’t saying. Postpartum mood disorders are cruel thieves, but luckily, they are treatable with the right support system and medical team behind you. If this sounds like it could be you, please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Something I found helpful when my babies were babies was taking at least one picture of them a day. Didn’t have to be a well-thought out or posed picture, or a picture taken while we were doing something special. In fact, my favorite pictures of my kids are all completely candid, just snapshots of them at a certain age. At the end of each month during their first year, I selected one photo per day, and put them into one of those photo books you can put together and have printed. On their first birthday, I had a year’s worth of photos of their first year, some of which I didn’t even remember taking! But flipping through them was like watching them grow through that year for the first time, and once I was out of the trenches, I was able to appreciate so many of the little moments that passed me by. I also used to carry around a little notebook and pen with me everywhere we went, so I could jot down things that happened that I knew I would forget in the coming days. I know it’s hard to enjoy them as babies when they’re actually babies—one of those cruel little twists of parenting. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still reflect on and enjoy every single day of being their mom…just at a later date.
Your baby has so much growing to do, and so many more milestones to hit. And yes, it’s still going to make you sad at times! The exquisitely painful beauty of watching your child grow up is something that no one can prepare you for, and it’s something that we will feel as long as we have the immense honor of being their mom. It’s OK to feel sad or wistful over how fast it goes, because good gravy does it ever speed by. Just remember that you have a lifetime of being their mom ahead of you. Many milestones and memories await you both.
Motherhood is Brutaful,
Is This Normal