The nights when Tavish sleeps for 8 -12 hours are amazing. It’s a relief when I’m the one to wake him up.
These wonderful blips of normalcy are quickly taken for granted. On his fussy days and nights where he just won’t go down, I often end the day wondering how moms do this more than once.
My mom told me the other day that I was a great mom and that I handle him well when he’s miserable. Then a few weeks later my mother-in-law congratulated us on how we prioritize Tav. I didn’t realize how much those comments stuck with me. It made everything worth it – that little bit of recognition from women who’d been through it already.
So it got me thinking about the other awesome things people have said and what sort of thing I find comforting when I’m ready to pull my hair out or grind my teeth until my jaw is pulp.
“You’re a great mom.”
For a noob, this is your ticket out of noob-dom. This is acknowledgement that you are that kick ass heroine of the house who can diagnose your baby’s ails based solely on the face he made or an ill-timed coo.
Tell her she’s awesome, especially if she’s new. Chances are everyone is telling her what to do and how to do it, but the minute she’s identified as part of the mom club, her confidence will soar.
“You handled that well.”
Ok, so I stole these two from my mom, but seriously, hearing that made a full day of baby soothing totally worth it. Like anything, being acknowledged for a job well done is rewarding, especially when you’re the new mom on the block.
“Let me give you some space”
This isn’t asking, this isn’t passively suggesting, it’s you getting the hell out of her way. My dad, as awesome and generous as he is, loves to hover when I change Tav. I don’t know what it is, because there’s nothing exciting about a poop-soaked diaper, but as soon as we’ve got chubby legs exposed, it’s time to smother.
Instead of asking if she needs space, just tell her you’re going to back off or just move. Chances are she’s not really thinking about how to respond, rather just getting to the baby. She’ll be grateful you got out of the way.
“You’ve got this.”
For the days when everything goes wrong. The cats puke on the carpet, the baby pukes on you and you’ve changed for the fifth time that day, the washing machine is thumping around because it’s overfilled, you have company coming for a dinner you’re not ready to prepare and you’re late for your son’s doctor’s appointment. The list goes on.
Just hearing that you’re in control and hearing it from someone you love is motivating. I have to give my husband credit for this one. He’s always the calm one and has said this to me before a stressful situation (like an emergency c-section…ahem). When he smiles at me and reminds me that I (or we) have it covered, I get that extra oomph and can get through the muck of a bad day.
“Let’s order a pizza.”
Friday nights are pizza nights at our house. This is something that carried over from pregnancy and sure, I’m packing on extra calories, but I’m also off the hook for cooking that night. Cooking + fussy baby = something will be overcooked. I love just being able to order food and never truly appreciated the convenience of it until I had Tav. It’s not something I want to do every night, but on those really rough days where even pouring myself a glass of water is a challenge, it’s a godsend.
“I’ve got your back.”
Family dinners. Great for having multiple babysitters in one room and the freedom of two arms for more than an hour, terrible for wanting to get there or leave on time. When we need to go early in order to keep Tavish on his wicked sleep schedule, we need to go. Knowing that I have the support and understanding of our families to arrive late or leave early makes things much easier. In another life, I hated being late and leaving early. Now, being on time is rare and being early, near impossible.
Let new mama know that you understand her situation. Even if it sucks that baby has to leave early or arrive late. She’s the one who’s got to deal with baby when he’s crying in the middle of the night. Sure, that’s her job, but make it easier. She’ll appreciate it.
“I love you.”
Probably the most obvious, but oh so heavily weighted. T and I always make an effort to say it before bed and before he leaves for work. It’s our way of reconnecting as partners, especially on those bad days when it’s all about soothing Tavish.
“You look great.”
Be careful with this one.
Say it at the wrong time and she’ll know you’re full of it. Say it on a day when she actually found time to look awesome and it’ll keep a smile on her face for days. Seriously, it’s hard work to try and look like a person when you’ve got an infant on hand. Some days all you can do is sit in your PJs with one boob out and ready with unwashed hair bunched into a knot, stomach empty, bladder full.
When it’s clear she made an effort, say it. Any time she’s in the washroom getting ready, she’s counting down the precious seconds until the next feed or fuss. Let her know that she rocked it.
“I took care of ____”
Make sure whatever you did is something that’s helpful. When my husband does groceries or scoops the kitty litter it makes my day much easier. Even if it’s something he does regularly, him telling me that he did it reminds me that there’s one less thing on my to-do list. I caution those who are friends of the new moms who like everything to be ‘just so’ to pick the chore wisely. If you don’t do it right, you’re causing more stress than you’re eliminating. Helping out will make her feel like she’s not alone and take the weight off of her shoulders.
I’m lucky. Between 6 weeks and three months, Tavish slept through the night regularly. He feeds well and is generally pretty happy, which makes my job easier. I have to salute the moms who don’t have it that easy, or have to chase another kid or two around while taking care of a baby. I don’t know if I could do this more than once but hearing that I have the support of my husband, friends and family brings on the confidence I need to be the best mom I can.
So, if you’re stuck on how to comfort a new mama, add these to your arsenal!