When my first child arrived, I recall the excitement of bringing her home so we could begin this new life and new relationship. I fantasized about parenthood, caring for this sweet beautiful child. I imagined strolling through the mall with her, being stopped so passersby could compliment me on how beautiful and well behaved she was. Yes, just a fantasy.
Within a couple of weeks it was clear my vision of being a new parent was far from reality. The reality was this squirming little human who required constant care cried a lot…CRIED A LOT. These were not the soft newborn squeaky whimpers indicating she needed fed, changed or wanted to be held. No, these were long, inconsolable, run the cat out of the room, bouts of crying. I would feed her, change her, carry her, rock her, lay her down, cover her, and uncover her. Nothing I did seemed to make the slightest difference.
A family friend came over to help one evening so I could I retreat to the bedroom and get some much needed rest. Normally I would have felt wholly inadequate to have someone stop by and take over while I slept. However, by this time I was a frazzled wreck and couldn’t wait to have a few hours of sleep. That night my newborn daughter didn’t cry, she screamed…the entire time my friend was there. Even behind two closed doors, I was not able to rest.
Another day, I counted out of 14 straight hours she was awake and crying most of the time. I remember at the end of that 14 hour day we were both crying. I sobbed as I rocked her, unable to console her for more than what seemed a few minutes at a time. I was quickly losing hope.
Was I really this bad at being a mother? Did this child hate me? The answer to both was no. It wasn’t her fault, and it really wasn’t my fault either. My precious daughter was a very colicky baby for our first few months together. I was simply facing a difficult situation.
I knew I could make it through this, but first I had to get my emotions in check. I had to quit focusing on the things that were making me feel worse. I had to start focusing less on my needs and my feelings and start focusing more on what I could do to help her. Instead of focusing on the lack of sleep I was getting, I celebrated the two hour nap she finally took that helped us to both feel more refreshed. I was thrilled after reading everything I could to discover a few ways that I could comfort her more effectively. I knew she didn’t hate me, she was in pain and I could take positive steps to help her be more comfortable. I realized after a few sleepless weeks that I could focus on the positives and find much more joy in new parenthood.
Thankfully we made it through those first few months and were able to take many strolls through the mall and receive all those compliments I had fantasized about when she first arrived. That rough start was just a distant memory.
Joyfulness is maintaining a good attitude, even when faced with unpleasant conditions. Don’t give up when faced with life’s trials, whether big or small. Even if you cannot change the situation, you can change your attitude and the way you react to it.
One of my favorite quotes is “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” By Mahatma Gandhi.
Another applicable quote is from Maya Angelou, ““What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”