Why I Hate This Parenting Cliche

A couple of months ago, when Lent started, I published a Facebook status that said, "For Lent, I'm giving up sleep. #newmom."

Funny, right?

It got 45 likes and several comments from commiserating and empathetic mommies and daddies, saying "Amen!" or "Piece of cake!" They got my joke. They understood that as a parent, you have to try and find the humor in pretty much everything, or you won't survive.

But then I saw this comment:

I know it sounds like total BS, but you really will miss the late night snuggling once he gets older. So although it sucks now, try to soak it up.

I 'liked' the comment, but actually, I fucking hated the comment. Like, it really pissed me off. 

"Soak it up," along with "Enjoy this time" or "Embrace the moment" have become my most hated pieces of parenting advice. (I hate even more that I have said this cliche to other expecting mommies.)

Why, you ask?

Most of the time, this instance included, I get this advice after a comment about some of the less-desirable parts of being a mom to an infant. Here, it was about lack of sleep. But the well-intended advice pisses me off because for one, I didn't say anything that would imply that I am NOT "soaking it up." I didn't complain about the lack of sleep. I didn't say "No sleep sucks," I didn't even mention late-night snuggles. 

(Side note: No sleep for mom does not always equal "late night snuggles." Sometimes, it equals a screaming, writhing baby who does not want to snuggle, he wants to cry/scream/play/eat/chat, etc.) 

So to tell me that I should be "soaking it up" in the middle of the night when I'd rather be sleeping? No thanks.

Quite simply, I was making light of the fact that, as the mom of a then-8-week-old, I wasn't sleeping, and therefore, giving up sleep for Lent would be easy peasy. HA. HA. HA!

For another thing: Not all moments in motherhood are enjoyable or precious. In fact, some of them are quite literally, shitty. Just because I don't particularly enjoy having bloody nipples and I don't cherish every dirty diaper I change and I don't like waking up every 45 minutes to receive a pacifier, doesn't mean that I'm a bad mom. At least I don't think it does. It also doesn't mean I won't do those things. Of course I will. It's all part of the gig, so I'll grin and bear it.

And finally, perhaps most important: Things are hard enough as a new mom, or even a veteran mom. I don't need the added pressure of feeling like I absolutely have to enjoy every moment of parenting. There have been nights and days when I break down and cry at the enormity of it all, of this job being a mom. I think selfish thoughts like, "I want to sleep," or "I can't do this," or "I just want to be alone." 

And my next thought is always, "But you should enjoy this time, everyone says to enjoy this time!" And then the guilt floods my veins like a drug. Oh, the guilt. It's overwhelming.

Yes, I know, and I agree: Motherhood is precious. Babies are miracles. Time goes too fast. The days are long, but the years are short. But here's the thing: I will choose to "embrace," "enjoy" and "soak up" the moments that I deem deserving of such emotion. 

And for me, those do not include nights where I only get an hour or two of sleep. Days where I have to sit around topless because my child has decided he will only be placated by my breast in or near his mouth. Moments when I'm late for work because my baby puked on the first three outfits I had on. Times when my child is in hysterics and I have no fucking clue what is wrong or how to make it better. Visits home when I want to cuddle up and play with my nieces and nephews like I used to, but I can't because there's someone else who needs me more than them. 

For me, it's these hard moments that make the others so enjoyable. 

With each passing day that Liam has been a part my life, I am learning. I am growing. It is getting easier, as everyone told me it would. I am "enjoying" a lot more these days, and even now, it's hard to dig deep and remember just how hard those first few weeks were, for all of us. 

I know he won't always need me. I know he won't always be small. I know that the toughest phases of parenting won't last forever. I know I won't be able to cuddle him forever.I know this.

I snuggle Liam as often as I can, and savor it, because even though he's only 20 weeks old, he is already too busy discovering the world to sit still with me very often. 
I inhale his baby smell and kiss his chubby cheeks, thighs and belly a hundred times a day. 
I tear up when I'm rock him, overwhelmed by the all-consuming love I have for him. 
I grieve when he outgrows clothing or goes up a size in his diaper. 
I melt when I see him light up when his Dad walks in the room. 
When he smiles at me, I think, "my heart cannot take any more emotion." 
When he "talks" to me, providing all of the facial expressions and dramatic pauses of adult, I laugh so hard, and my cheeks hurt from smiling. 
When he relaxes in my arms, I breathe a sigh of relief - he needs me and I can make it, whatever 'it' is at that particular moment, better. 
I am crying as I write all of these things, because my heart swells thinking of all the fun we've had, and have yet to experience.

So, I am enjoying it. Most of it. 

But just because, for one night, I might want to lay my baby down to sleep instead of holding him in my arms, does not mean I am not soaking it up. It just means I'm tired.

Many of you reading this probably disagree with me. You're probably shaking your head, thinking that I couldn't know what I'm talking about. How could I, my baby is only 4 months old! You sit there,with your toddlers, tweens, teenagers or adult children, and think, "No, I really do miss those hard moments, honest." I'm sure you do. You're entitled to. And maybe someday I'll look back on this post and I'll laugh at my naïveté, and I will miss EVERY moment, not just the snuggley ones.  

But that's my journey to go on. You went through it, now let me go through it. Let me feel what I feel, enjoy what I enjoy, and not embrace what I don't want to embrace, and please don't tell me to do otherwise. I'm embracing, enjoying, soaking in everything, as best as I can, just like you and every other mommy or daddy out there.

Anyone else feel like this, or am I a Negative Nancy, party of 1?


  1. Sorry I ever posted a link to a blog post on "He won't always need you..." - You do you.

    1. Oh no, PLEASE do not apologize! Reading that post actually gave me perspective, and made me re-think posting this blog. I've had it written for months and haven't hit "publish" because I felt like people would think that I don't LOVE being a mom. And honestly, I wrote this at a particularly trying phase of parenthood. Even though I don't particularly LOVE getting up multiple times in a night, since I read the post you shared, when I'm up with Liam I remind myself of the fact that he won't always be this small/needy, and it has helped me feel more appreciative of being needed. :) Love hearing other perspectives, always share!

  2. Bless your heart! As a mom to an 8 month old I have been guilty of saying "enjoy this moment" but you know what? You're RIGHT! We are TIRED!! My baby still wakes 1-2 in the middle of the night and the only moments I am missing is my REM sleep. Doesn't make you a bad mom at all, in fact my baby still wakes this often because I don't have the heart to let her cry it out. (I swear I try every night and then just cave) Love this, everything about it. You're not alone!!

    1. Thanks, Laura! I have told so many women to "enjoy this time" before I became a mommy. There are MILLIONS of moments to be enjoyed - moreso than not - but I just hate that I feel pressure to enjoy it all, and then guilty for those times when I don't (like when I just want to sleep)! We're only human. PS - I can't let mine CIO either. I'm happy to get up for him any time :)

  3. I think when you are out of a stage it's easy to look back and say I wish I enjoyed that more. Some days with a newborn (or any age really!) are about survival! You are absolutely entitled to whatever emotions you have during those tough moments!

  4. Amen to every last word! I fell the EXACT same way but just don't know quite how to explain it. This post quite literally is how I feel!

  5. As a mama whose daughter just became an official adult, I say right on. There will continue to be wtf moments... even sleepless (sorry to report) nights waiting for her to get home from prom. It's all part of it. I wish now, I had written things down that she did, I was sure I'd remember! And now in the age of affordable recording devices, keep videos tucked away somewhere for when they get older. Then when you miss the smell of a baby, so you can just relive a bit of it. <3


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