When you have a baby the world and his wife want to tell you something. And they do tell you that thing. They tell you to “cherish every moment.” Over and over and over again.
They tell you this in cafes, while you’re nursing a triple-shot pint of lukewarm coffee. They tell you this in supermarkets, while you’re struggling to put one foot in front of the other, purchase food and keep a small one quiet at the same time (if you can do this you’re bossing it FYI). They even tell you this when they come round to visit, bearing gifts of lovely white babygros, knitted booties and French plastic giraffes.
They tell you this so much, that it begins to get a little… irritating.
The thing is, being told that you should cherish every moment, when you haven’t slept in eight weeks, you can’t remember the last time you had a hot meal and you can’t even contemplate getting your chubby thighs into anything involving denim, feels a bit like a kick in the teeth.
For months after my precious spawn entered this world, amid a catastrophic backdrop of blood and screaming and incredible toast, I received the same advice. Each time that advice entered my ear holes, I felt a familiar red mist descend, as soon as I realised that yes, I was indeed being informed, once again, that I should very well be cherishing every moment.
I’m not saying there’s nothing to cherish about having a newborn. Of course there is. There’s the cute little outfits, the nice cuddles, the hours upon hours of guilt-free Netflix binges in the name of cluster feeding. There are the wonderfully posed insta-baby shoots, the first smiles and the epic baby classes where you shine bright lights in their faces for no apparent reason. And don’t even get me started on the joy that is BABY CINEMA (I’d have another baby just to go back to this every week, I’m not kidding.)
There’s just something about being told that you should be cherishing every moment that feels a little… exasperating. Because there is nothing harder than being a new mum, looking after a newborn and trying to keep your marbles together.
It’s exhausting, totally draining and completely brilliant all at the same time. But if you think every single moment of having a newborn baby is worth cherishing then you’re a sandwich short of a picnic. That’s the polite way of saying it.
So, where did this nonsense even come from? I think it comes down to that thing where we shut out our bad memories. You know, like when you start a new job and immediately grieve for the wondrous world that was your old office, where your work wives laughed at your bad jokes, and people knew your name, and there was free cake on Fridays. It’s the same with newborns, I’m convinced of it.
Otherwise, people who have actually lived through the horror that is the (insert dramatic music here please) fourth trimester, surely wouldn’t actually think that “cherish every moment” is an acceptable thing to spout out of their mouths in the presence of those who have recently been gifted a precious little bundle of their own.
I mean it’s got to be that. Hasn’t it? Or is it some kind of prank the older generation have decided to play on us all? Because it’s basically like watching someone slowly wake up, the night after their 30th birthday, with sick in their hair and unexplained bruises all over their body, and then chucking some icy cold water in their face and telling them that they should very well be having the best ever day of their entire lives and if they don’t they’re a terrible person and that’s that.
So, parents of scrunched-up cute little red-faced newborn folk. It’s time to dispel the myths. It’s time to see sense.
There are many moments, when you have a newborn. Whole days and weeks and months full of moments. Some of them should be cherished. Some… well let’s just say some are best filed away under “let’s not think about that ever again. Amen.”
Now I don’t wish to be the bearer of bad news here, but it’s time to stop this madness. If you’re not cherishing every moment, you’re not doing it wrong.
Sometimes, only the thought of wine will get through the day. Sometimes you won’t bother going to the extortionate baby class you’ve already paid for because you haven’t got the energy to brush your hair. Sometimes you’ll wonder whether your baby is going to be forever ruined because you haven’t read Spot the Dog in the last 24 hours. But that’s fine. Because cherishing every single moment is an unachievable dream and the next person to say it should see me.