When new mothers share their exhaustion with breastfeeding around the clock, and their struggles with night feedings, they are often told to “just appreciate it now, because you’ll miss it when it’s gone.” Say WHAAAAT?!
I love mothering my children, and for the most part I love breastfeeding them. I homeschool, attachment parent, and snuggle and kiss my kids as much as they will allow me. This means that, by choice, my children are literally with me 24/7- in my bed, for my morning coffee, and as I sit here typing this now. I like being with my children and have given them all of me since the day they were born. They are now almost 6 and almost 4 and it has been six months since I have participated in night feedings.
There is not a single second of a single day in the last six months that I have missed night feedings. Nor have I missed the exhaustion, or overwhelming feelings that come with having a newborn, or a toddler. In fact, every single day I take stock of how grateful I am to be sleeping through the night for the first time in over five years. I revel in how much clearer my head is each day, that I can exercise again, and that I even have a little time for myself.
I look back with nostalgia on the time period when I was first getting to know my children, but I do not miss it. I soaked these moments in, connected with my children in every way I could, and met all of their needs to the best of my ability. I know that all of the sleepless nights and extra feeds benefited not only my children, but me, and our relationship. As my kids experienced the most vulnerable and helpless times of their lives, I gave it all I had, and it was all consuming.
The message that we “will miss” the time when our children have so many demands and needs suggests that we would go back once it is over. Would I go back? No way! Maybe for the snuggles of my newborn son, or the precious body of my brand new daughter resting on my chest, but those moments come with all the rest; the exhaustion, the not knowing what to do, the intense crying when I could not figure out what they needed… and that part I do not miss.
Newbornhood is most precious in retrospect, and I for one am glad that it will stay there. I still bask in the memory of what it was like to have the tiny body of my newborn asleep against my chest, or that moment just after latching, when my baby’s breathing calmed, and their whole body relaxed. Of course I think of these times. Often!
I do not miss them though, because I remember all the struggle, intense emotion, and exhaustion that came with them. So the next time somebody tells you that you will “miss the night feedings when they are over”, just smile at them, and know that if they really think about it, they probably do not miss the night feedings either.
Jennifer Andersen was blindsided by motherhood. She was not prepared for all that it would entail, or to have herself opened in such a vulnerable way. Jennifer hopes to deconstruct parenthood in a way that empowers parents to trust themselves, instead of listening to how “everybody else” tells them to parent. You can find her on her own blog; OurMuddyBoots.com, Parenting Outside the Lines.