Cake

Babies are beautiful and wonderful, but they are cute for a reason – they can be damn hard.

 

 

It was the middle of a Canadian winter when my son was born, so many a cold day had to be spent shuffling around the mall if I wanted to get out of the house.

I liked it because I could take off my coat, maybe get a coffee, and the mall floors were smooth so the stroller ran easily across it instead of a Sherpa trek across the hard chunks of ice and snow in my neighbourhood.

Inevitably, my son would get hot, hungry, tired of the outing, and start fussing. Shit. Outing over. This is when a movie moment would happen. As if on cue, an elderly woman would pop up and say “Cherish these moments because they’ll be gone before you know it and then you’ll miss them.”

Okay, I see the logic. She sees a struggling new mother and thinks, “she’s getting frustrated and I need to give her some perspective.” I get that. I really do.

Except for me, she has now layered guilt onto my shit moment – I shouldn’t hate this. I should love this. There are women that would kill for this moment and here am all hot and sweating from the newborn hormones and breastfeeding not savouring my baby freaking out in an echoing mall.

When I was back at home I would feel guilty if my son would be playing quietly and I would look at my phone. There would be a moment of, “you should be on the floor playing with him. You should be savouring this moment.”

There was a perpetual sense of panic that it was flying by and that I wasn’t sad about it.

But here’s the thing, babies are like cake.

Cake is amazing, beautiful, delicious and wonderful.

But when you have cake every day, every meal, for a period of time you’re not going to enjoy cake. It’s too much cake.

You’ll think, “Look how perfect this cake is. I love cake. I wanted this cake. There are people that would kill for cake. Yet, I can’t handle one more bite. What’s wrong with me?”

Nothing.

If you find yourself in a great moment, absolutely, savour it. Let laundry, dinner, toilet cleaning, whatever wait. Take time to enjoy the fun.

If you find yourself in a crap moment, just hunker down and get through it and remember that you only have to do today once.

The further away people get from a stage, the larger the brush they use to paint it. You’ll have people telling you to enjoy the bike rides and the long walks when you’re holding a newborn that can’t sit up. But keep in mind that it comes from a beautiful place and in most cases they are just trying to make your day easier from showing you the big picture (a small percentage are projecting their life regrets on you and they can fuck right off but let’s not worry about them.) However, it’s almost impossible to do this with no context – “How the hell can I love this moment when I truly feel like it is never going to end?”

As for the rest of us, baby amnesia is a lovely thing. It’s the reason the human race carries on but it’s also a little problematic. It easy to look at a baby and say how wonderful it is when you’ve had a full night sleep, eaten with two hands, and a full shower, but that new mother has probably been living those moments non-stop since that kid was born.

Even if that baby is three-weeks old she has had 504 hours of continuous, intense ‘moments’ that we are now telling her to cherish.

When you haven’t had cake in a while you only remember how awesome cake is, how perfect, delicious and sweet it is, but when you walk up to someone eating their 504th piece and tell them they need to savour every bite, it’s a little hard to swallow.

I love the idea that as I age my brain will wash away the rough edges and hard memories and cement the beautiful stuff forever. I’m already amazed that I can’t remember what a 9-week old does compared to a 14-week old because let me tell you, I knew every sleep, feeding, pooping, burping difference at the time. But it’s like my brain just rummaged through the memory drawer and dumped 80% in the garbage and filed the 20% in the magic memory folder.

So I know I’m going to be that old lady in the mall. The one that looks at childhood through a treasured, beautiful lens that wishes that I could impart that context, the big picture, the perspective on that women with a baby. But I need to hold onto that accurate memory and that very real struggle – that babies are cute and beautiful for a reason – because they can be damn hard and intense. And that wonderful new mom isn’t throwing away golden moments as much as she’s trying to string them together through the hard ones.

I want to remember that sometimes the poor girl just has too much cake.

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17 Comments

  • I am obsessed with cake. Thank you for the fitting analogy though I am willing to attempt the 504 pieces of cake theory…

  • THANK YOU 🙂 I am the proud Mom of 2 beautiful daughters. The eldest will be 28 in July and her son turns 2 months old today. The younger daughter will be 26 in Oct. and is engaged to be married next spring. I am the older lady at the mall on most days because the thrill of the new born babe is a blessing to ALL of us, however I do remember the sleepless nights and the fear that I was not all that my new born deserved in a Mom. You wrote with such clarity ! Thank YOU 🙂 and now I SHARE <3

  • Thank you!!! I really needed to read this today. I love your blog – whenever I was feeling overwhelmed during my pregnancy or am having a rough day with the baby, I visit your site and find something that makes me feel like someone else has been there too 🙂

    Also, in my head, the elderly woman in the mall sounds like Yoda…"Beautiful baby you have. Poop all over you it does? Cherish the poopsplosions you must!""

  • It is not that " the idea that as I age my brain will wash away the rough edges and hard memories and cement the beautiful stuff forever" It is that " an elderly woman " has lived through all the ages of her children and as hard as it seems you haven’t lived through the teenage years yet.

  • Hon, the real reason they’re so cute is that we’re much less likely to drown them or leave them on the bus…

    • I know, right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my now 16 month old son "you’re lucky you’re cute, kid." I seriously think babies are cute as a defense mechanism.

  • Wonderful read! As I prepare for number 2 to arrive in the next few weeks, I have this vague recollection of the storm I am about to encounter, and feeling just few trepidations about it! Oh my god, how am I going to eat ALL THAT CAKE?!?!?!

    I learned with my first, (and am still learning), that sometimes its just hard. And that’s ok. I wish more women were open about how hard it can be, and how there will be moments when you just don’t why you ever would have don’t this to yourself (no matter that you tried and tried and tried for over a year, and cried on those months that there was only 1 line).

    I am lucky enough to have a beautiful circle of friends where such sharing is perfectly safe, and we are all aloud to be "that mom". And because of it, and the safety of our circle, we were able to catch that one of the moms was suffering from more than just the baby blue, but Post partum depression, and were able to help her reach out to get the help she needed before anything terrible were to happen.

    But I ramble. YAY for honestly, and knowing that it will get better, but sometimes right now, its ok to suck too!

  • I absolutely LOVE this analogy!!! I adore my babies more than anything in the world and I miss them if I’m not with them but damn it would be nice to have another meal every now and then!

    • Same here!!! FTM of an 8 week old, and man alive, I felt so guilty taking 10 minutes to look at my phone today while she was happily playing under her baby gym. I needed the 10 minutes of mindless Pinterest browsing….but it made me feel so bad I wasn’t there "soaking it all in". This made me feel okay that I just needed that time today.

  • AMEN to this!! So true! When my daughter was born, I was having a very challenging day the day my husband went back to work that included a fussy newborn, a cranky and active toddler, bleeding nipples, snow, a trip to the library, and two hours sleep. I was juuuuust about to break down crying in the parking lot when a woman– clean, rested, put-together, charming, well-behaving child in tow– looked at me and said "You are doing AWESOME, Mama!!!!" It was the perfect thing to hear; it validated my shit day (clearly she saw it, too), but in literally cheering me on I rallied and somehow made it home. She was totally lying but I will never, ever forget her, and now I try to say that when I see struggling mamas out there. You are doing awesome!

  • YES. This is the best analogy ever. As I type, my 5 month old (omg how is that possible?) is playing in our recently acquired baby jail. Did I feel a little like a failure buying a playpen, absolutely. (BTW, people, it’s not a "play yard". It’s not a yard. It’s a place you put your baby so they don’t hurt themselves while you go pee.) But I work from home, and once she started rolling, I couldn’t get more than 3 feet away from her or take my attention off of her enough to answer an email without her trying to roll across the room.

    I guess I’m lucky I don’t have a well-meaning elderly lady in my house (b/c that would be creepy) but I kinda have one in my head anyway. Am I giving the baby everything she needs? Does she feel neglected? Am I missing playtime I’ll never get back? So thanks for this, it’s helping me evict well-meaning elderly lady from my head, at least for today.

  • Such a wonderful read!! The most honest thing I have read about being a mom ….exactly how I feel in every sense. I have been looking for something like this because a lot of mom blogs just love to paint such a pretty picture and I hate it when that’s all I read…thank you!

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