Just you wait till they get older (and it gets significantly easier)

When I was a new mum struggling to get to grips with looking after a baby quite a few people told me stuff like,

‘Oh, if you think this part is hard just wait until she starts teething/weaning/sleep regression/skipping naps etc’

or

‘When they can crawl/walk/talk/say no/start potty training, then you’ll really know you have kids.’

When I announced I was pregnant with my second child people said stuff like,

‘If you think this is hard just wait till you’ve got two to run after.

You won’t know what’s hit you then.

That’s when you really know you’re a mum.

That’s when you’ll really be tired.

That’s when,

just you wait,

just wait until they,

that’s when you’ll really,

if you think you’ve got it hard now,

just you wait

ad infinitum . . .’

 

Well, I just waited (whilst obviously actually living my life and not just sitting around waiting for some kind of parental doom bomb to fall on me) and guess what?

Things got a hell of a lot easier.

And ok, I hear you, the ‘just you wait’ crew. I know that my kids are only five and one and that yes, one day they’ll be teenagers and that they’ll undoubtedly be slamming doors in my face and puking up cheap cider into my flowerbeds and telling me that they hate me and won’t want to have lunch with me or a cuddle or whatever. I know there’s loads of really hard things to come and I guess that we’re all really different in how we handle things or whatever but just like how hardly anyone ever talks about how difficult the early days can be with a baby, hardly anyone ever talks about how awesome it is to hang out with your five-year-old for the day.

No one is like, ‘just you wait until you read a proper big kids book with them and you are both genuinely laughing or scared or just totally gripped by the story and it’s kind of magical.’

No one says, ‘just you wait until you can have a proper conversation where you are both really interested in what you have to say to each other.’

No one says, ‘ah, just wait until you watch Wreck it Ralph, you’re going to love it.’

No one says, ‘just you wait until they do a really good impression of you and is genuinely hilarious and totally captures you acting like a twat.’

You know, I never had this kind of OMG/ bursting with pride parenting moment when my eldest learned to walk. She was a late walker and she was always so unsure of herself and never ever let go of my hand, even when she could walk quite capably. Physically she was always a little nervous. She was never willing to just go for it and dive in.

But when she picked up a book and read it out loud to me for the first time, I felt like I was watching those first steps; so shakily bold and new. I felt like I was witnessing something that, for her, was more momentous than anything she could do with her feet, stumbling over the sentences and difficult words, always with her hand poised, ready to push me away from butting in with any offer of help. She didn’t need me to hold her hand. Not with this.

No one is ever like, ‘just you wait until they get older and you get to know them more and discover more of who they really are and what they care about and love doing and you just can’t believe how lucky you are that you’re their mum.’

No one is ever like, ‘hey, if you think it’s really hard now, just you wait until they’re not babies anymore and they sleep all night and you get to sleep all night and you’re not so tired that you fantasise about pillows and sheets and google ‘can I die from sleep deprivation’ at least once a week.’

No one says, ‘oh wow, you’re having another baby, just you wait until they make each other laugh for the first time and one of them is finding the joke so funny that they are just silently vibrating with laughter because they have reached the can’t-actually-breathe level of finding something funny.’

Look, I know full well that being a parent is hard, but in those raw early days with a baby I wish I had been able to see my way out of the fog to some of this joy. Sitting in the semi dark of the early hours of the morning trying to psych myself up to feed my tiny baby from my cracked nipple. Swallowing back the lump in my throat as I finally made it through the supermarket checkout with a toddler at full scream and feeling the eyes and hearing the whispers of other shoppers as I tried to calm her down and cram stuff into bags at the same time. I wish that in some of those moments, by some magical power I had been able to see in to the future because it HAS got easier.

It has got easier and for me I’ve found that the just-you-wait crew were always wrong. Of course it is easier to hang out with a child for the day than it is to hang out with a baby and how does it help anyone anyway to say that things will get harder? Is it some weird kind of one-upmanship? It is just a way of dismissing someone’s experience and feelings by saying that their feelings and experiences are nothing to what they will become?

I dunno, but a couple of months ago I went through a really rough patch. I kept getting sick and the kids kept getting sick and the baby was waking several times in the night and I started to feel quite down.

If I’m being really honest I might as well tell you that some mornings after being awake most of the night either with the kids waking up or me being sick or just thinking ridiculous anxious thoughts I would have a secret cry before everyone woke up, just at the fact that the day was starting over again and I didn’t want it to. I found myself crying quite a lot. It was a really shitty time.

If I’m being super honest I’d say that I started to feel like I was losing it (whatever ‘it’ actually is). I would sit up in bed, sweating and shaking with fever, clutching my sick bucket while my husband snored and the baby hogged the pillow and my daughter cried out to me across the hallway. I remember one night thinking,

I just have to get away from you all.

I worried I was losing it then because I felt like the only way I could feel better again would be to get as far away from them all as possible.

One morning, after a particularly bad night I posted in a little group I am part of about how I was feeling and how I feared I might be losing my mind. The other mums in the group were really supportive and understood exactly how I felt and one of them said that one day I would get enough sleep and that the kids would leave the house for a bit and I would get some time to myself and that they would come home and I would love seeing them. For some reason I really latched onto that, especially the last bit, that I would love seeing them, because at that time things were just so hard and as much as I loved my kids I wasn’t really enjoying my life and all I wanted to see was an empty bed that I could lie on for eight hours alone in the dark.

Sometimes what you need is the alternative just-you-wait. The just-you-wait of hope.

Just you wait until you get some decent sleep.

Just you wait until you laugh so hard.

Just you wait until you feel so close.

Just you wait until you feel so happy.

Just you wait until the day feels easier.

Just you wait until they put their own shoes on.

Just you wait until they play together.

I confess that I am probably one of those awful people who wants to say stuff to new mums when I see them out and about in the street or the supermarket or doctors’ surgery or whatever. I want to be intrusive and butt my nose in. I hold back most of the time but the urge is quite strong because of that feeling of recognition when I see them with their tiny, tiny baby and a muslin draped over their shoulder.

‘It’s so hard,’ I want to say and, ‘you’re doing so well.’

But most of all I want to say,

‘It will get easier.

I promise you it will get easier.’

Me and Audrey in the early days.
Me and Audrey in the early days.

 

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37 thoughts on “Just you wait till they get older (and it gets significantly easier)

  1. Anon May 9, 2016 / 6:14 am

    Oh my goodness. This blog post is amazing and has really spoken to me! In tears. Thank you so so much x

    • Like Real Life May 9, 2016 / 7:01 pm

      I’m really glad it has meant something to you x

  2. Jo May 9, 2016 / 7:08 am

    I must admit it also had me filling up here and I’m not even that sleep deprived at the moment (only a bit today as my 11mo was awake at 4 and then 6). It’s so easy to forget that what you’re going through right now won’t last for ever, sometimes all you can see is right now. There’s so much to look forward to!

  3. Heather Deeming May 9, 2016 / 7:10 am

    I’m bookmarking this to save and keep in mind for any new mum friends who might be having a hard time. Wish I’d had this when I’d been struggling in those early days. So sorry you went through such a rough patch – it sounded awful. So so glad you had some mums to turn to who understood. Thank you, as always, for sharing. x

    • Like Real Life May 9, 2016 / 7:02 pm

      Thanks for reading and for sharing on. It really has got easier for me. I know we’re all different but I am definitely having more fun the older mine get!

  4. Anon May 9, 2016 / 11:04 am

    Awkward half cry in John Lewis cafe with a baby on my boob….this post is wonderful and so true. Things are just getting slightly easier with my 6 year old and 10 month old as the 10 month old is feeling like a bit less of an impostor. When the baby was 3 weeks old I met up with some friends and their kids. One friend told me ‘oh these are the easy days when they just sleep all day and you can carry on with the older one’ – I felt like such a failure!! Nothing has ever felt harder than the early baby days. ‘Just you wait’ s are cruel.

    • Like Real Life May 9, 2016 / 11:14 am

      For me, nothing has been harder than the early baby days. I’m sure it will get easier for you like it has for me. Keep going. You are doing so well.

  5. Jeannine May 9, 2016 / 6:58 pm

    I was so annoyed with everyone telling me how much work multiple children are. Yes, three kids is waaaaay more work than one, but I struggled so much more with my first than my third. My first was so damn hard. No one told me how amazing it would be to catch my 3 year old secretly sneaking kisses to the baby or hearing my 6 year old singing quietly to the little one, or watching the baby cracking the two big kids up. Logically it has to get easier or we wouldn’t reproduce as a human race. Those “just you waiters” are clearly not very scientifically minded.

    • Like Real Life May 9, 2016 / 7:00 pm

      Yes! Totally. My experiences of being a new mum were just so much harder for me and I find myself having more fun as they get older!

  6. Robyn May 9, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    This is amazing. Thank you so much. I needed to read this.

      • Lisa November 7, 2016 / 6:42 pm

        I really needed this after another tough day, week, month with a 2 year old and 3 month old..life with them is so much tougher then I ever imagined. Thank you for reminding me of the hope when at times it feels relentless x

  7. Anon May 9, 2016 / 8:25 pm

    I really needed this today- my kids are 7,6 and 2 although I know you’re right (there have been the odd afternoons I have been able to see the world as you do and I can see my just you wait hope) it’s just been one of those fortnights and I needed this article to remind me and give me a little boost. Thank you x

  8. Andrea Dineen May 9, 2016 / 9:49 pm

    Found the first year with baby No 1 just brutal…once he turned 1 year old , light appeared at end of the tunnel…I am now facing into Baby No 2 s imminent arrival. Must be honest and say I am bracing myself for the year ahead…but I at least know now that I’m not going mental or going to fail (hopefully!!) , I am just going to have an exhausting job to do for several months and then things will gradually get easier…the joy of deja vu!

    • Like Real Life May 9, 2016 / 10:37 pm

      I know how you feel. If it’s any consolation at all I found the whole experience of birth and the following weeks easier the second time around in a way, not because they were loads easier per se, but more because I was just easier on myself. I accepted that I was going to do crazy hormonal crying, I let stuff go around the house, I let my oldest watch too much telly and generally was just like, ‘yeah, this is going to be tough and I’m going to just do the best I can and not worry about stuff’. We lived off sandwiches for quite a while. We survived!! X

      • Andrea Dineen May 10, 2016 / 9:22 am

        Sounds like sandwiches may be the key…must stock freezer with bread n pittas n fridge with cheese n relish! Thanks for tip 🙂

    • Rachel May 10, 2016 / 3:58 pm

      I think second time round I hugely appreciated the fact that the baby couldn’t move on its own!!! You put it down…and it doesn’t move!!!!! It’s an amazing advantage not to be overlooked ?

  9. luna's mum May 10, 2016 / 5:48 am

    Amazing post…im in tears it really touched me…you are so good are articulating how it feels. Kids are so hard work…but the older they get the more rewarding it gets …love the way you summed that up x

    • Like Real Life May 10, 2016 / 5:50 am

      Really hard work eh? And the older mine get the more fun we are having alongside the hard work!

  10. Fleur May 10, 2016 / 6:26 am

    So loved this. I am there right now. 12week old plus a 22 month. This was SO good. Thank you!

    • Like Real Life May 10, 2016 / 6:35 am

      So tough! But so, so much fun to come. Big hugs to you x x x

  11. Helen Sharpe May 10, 2016 / 8:17 am

    Thank you….I needed to read this. Actually I keep reading it! X

  12. MummyRia May 10, 2016 / 8:55 am

    Wow this is so relevant to me right now.
    I’m in the early weeks with baby 2 and a toddler and have just had a bad night where all i could think was how much I just wanted to get away from it all.
    It is so hard when sleep deprived to think it’ll get easier but you are right, just look forward to even a year from now and things will be a lot different.
    Sometimes staying strong and appearing in control is the hardest part and people’s negative comments, however innocent, can be crushing.
    Thank you for being so honest, just knowing I’m not the only one feeling this way helps more than you know!

  13. Rachel May 10, 2016 / 3:54 pm

    I wish you had written this post a couple of years ago!!!! Mine are now 4 and 7 and I can go to the gym, watch what I want on the TV every now and again and totally enjoy spending time with them both. I spent most of their infancy feeling like I was never going to sleep again, never going to go a full day without crying. There’s no denying that there are still quite tough times when we’re all I’ll but I think as they get older they are so much better company, without all the hassle! And I’d like to add that I think that the “just you wait” crew will be sitting in hell next to the “blink and you’ll miss it”!!! That old chestnut had me sitting awake at night fretting over whether I would really wake up one day and have missed it all. I think the mind of a new, sleep deprived mother is a very fragile thing and should be treated with nothing but love and compassion! Thank you for your insight and honesty! It has made me feel a bit more normal ?

  14. Lucinda Wood May 10, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    So lovely to read, I’ve heard so many just you waits and scare mongering stories its terrible. Thank you 🙂

  15. Zed Dubya May 10, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    Thank you so much for this beautiful article. I have a 6 month old baby and a 2 year old, and this is just what I needed to hear.

  16. Penelope May 11, 2016 / 6:32 am

    Wait til they are at different unis. And you cant seem to reach one on a tough issue. But the other one totally gets it. And after Easter break he offers to drive an extra 2 hours out of his way so he can get his sibling (with broken arm) back to uni (thereby saving you the 2hour trip). And en route he gets the message through. Words can’t describe the love, pride, relief. And joy that although they are very different they are good buddies.

    And I am forever grateful for my 3 in house tech experts on macs, iPhones etc

    It DOES get better. Much much better. And you have young people loyal and always on your side regardless of the issue.

    Roles are decades away from reversing but I can see I will be in good loving and capable hands.

  17. Jo Lobato May 11, 2016 / 9:38 am

    Laughed out loud at this line, brilliant… “No one says, ‘just you wait until they do a really good impression of you and is genuinely hilarious and totally captures you acting like a twat.’”

  18. Patricia Shepard May 13, 2016 / 12:49 am

    OMG. I love everything you write, but this one is the best ever. I’m going to link to it on my blog, immediately. JUST YOU WAIT!
    XOXO from New York!

  19. Sarah Rooftops May 13, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    Fantastic post! I’ve often complained about all the people who told me parenthood would basically be the end of my life – how wrong were they?! There are awful days but the good bits are so, so much better than life ever was before.

    (Found you via someone sharing this on a local Facebook group for mums – I’m glad they did)

  20. Tracie May 15, 2016 / 10:57 pm

    A few just you waits you’ve wow’d me with…
    When I heard you play in an orchestra for the first time
    Seeing you swim your first length
    You making me a silver ring to cheer me up after I broke up with your dad
    When you came to me across miles after a terrible crisis
    Seeing you standing in the aisle in your wedding dress – so beautiful and confident
    When you gave me wonderful grandchildren

    Yes there’s always challenges, but that’s life, there will always be wonderful moments too

    • Like Real Life May 15, 2016 / 11:06 pm

      I’m just sorry for all the cider related puke ❤️

  21. Abbie May 25, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    This is wonderful to read. I have a 3.5 year old and a 15 month old and we have not had the best 2016 so far. January was plagued with illness, February improved a bit, March was plagued with illness, April was ok-ish, May has been plagued with illness and coming up to three weeks now of explosive nappies for some unknown reason, it is all getting a bit much. I don’t live anywhere near family and my husband works ridiculous hours – lates, nights, weekends etc (in a high pressured job, he is a doctor). The 15 month old seems to hate sleep (and us) at the moment.
    I often feel overwhelmed and completely stressed out by the fact that all of these difficult moments are of my own creation (choosing to have my children!). I find I am often told to enjoy every minute and to not wish the time away but I just can’t help it. Sometimes I don’t enjoy any minutes in a day let alone every minute and then I feel guilty about it. I definitely feel like I am ‘losing it’ and life really shouldn’t be this hard. But then my 3 year old will do something cool, yesterday she kicked the football the length of the garden and was so delighted with herself saying “I’ve never done that before” and I feel so delighted for her and I think yes, things will get easier, when my son is her age and she is a bit older again surely things will get easier? She was a complete harridan as a toddler and although she is still very fierce you can see the tantrums easing off and the fun moments coming out.
    It is helpful to read other mums having the same thoughts and finding the early years so difficult so thank you for that. I’ve just got to keep on going…

    • Like Real Life May 25, 2016 / 4:18 pm

      I’m glad that reading this helped. It really is so hard some days eh? It really helps me to write this blog because it’s lovely to hear from other mums like you who are going through the same difficult days. X x x

  22. Amanda September 19, 2016 / 2:13 am

    I am laughing, I am crying, I am so glad I found your blog! You are so honest and what you write about really hits home for me, thank you, I really needed this!! xx

  23. Yvonne November 8, 2016 / 7:13 am

    Brilliantly written. My first pregnancy was wildly exciting, looking forward to my own little baby, but then she arrived. Didn’t want to sleep. Didn’t want to feed. Didn’t want to be put down. Tears all the time, mostly mine. Everyone else seemed to be coping, why wasn’t I? Then she turned 2. Felt like the padded wagon should have taken me away, and I wanted it to. Fourteen years later her switch turned and she became the daughter I was so proud of, she became my friend.

    Between this I had a second pregnancy. A son who was a delight from day one. HE had read the manual and life was so much easier. Only trouble was I had to remember he was around as he was so quiet and compliant.

    Now I am a grandmother with two wonderful children and their partners and two gorgeous grandchildren – my reward for hanging in all those years ago. Life with babies and children can be hard but there is so many things to look forward to, so hang in as life does get much better.

  24. Mara December 16, 2016 / 6:00 pm

    My youngest is nearly 3 and people keep asking when we are having another. I’m finally to the cool kid stage, have patience with my big boys because I’m getting enough sleep, have energy to do stuff, and you want me to go back to the crying potato stage? “But aren’t you gonna try for a girrlllll?” Sorry my boys aren’t good enough for you because we have a lack of pink frilly crap in out house ? If I’d have been blessed with a girl, I’d embrace the pink if she wasn’t a tomboy like her mommy, but that wasn’t in my cards and I’m good with that. Thank you for the honesty. I seriously thought I was alone. So many other people just don’t get it.

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