I’m so exhausted even my fingernails hurt. I’m a new mom of an adorable 4-month-old boy. I know it’s normal to be sleep deprived, but I never really knew what sleep deprivation can do to a body. I’ll admit I’m an over-achiever and try to do everything myself. I have two friends with babies who manage just fine.
My husband Allen works long hours and I have refused help from my mother-in-law because I don’t want her, or anyone, to think I can’t do this. I try to put myself together every morning, but I barely have time to brush my teeth. When Allen wants to snuggle or watch a show or heaven forbid get intimate, I panic. What’s wrong with me?
Dear New Mom
This new job called “mom” does not come with a manual or a set of warnings on a label. Being the go-to person for another human being who is helpless and looks to you to literally sustain life, can – and should be – exhausting. There is nothing wrong with you and stop comparing yourself to your friends. You have no idea what their situation is and how much help or sleep they get.
Reality is that eventually your body will demand sleep, and you don’t want that to happen while you are feeding your baby or pacing with him in your arms. Safety comes first and everyone who cares about you needs to realize that.
First thing you need to do is drop that pride and accept any and all the help from anyone you trust. If your MIL offers, take it. Use the time to nap, shower, eat a proper meal, or just relax. Let the housework and cooking go. Order in, hire a cleaning lady, use a delivery service for groceries. Let Allen binge-watch Netflix alone, or better still, let him take over so you can have some time to regroup. Above all, don’t be so hard on yourself. Moms are not invincible. Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you give up your zombie state. You’ll be amazed what feeling human again will do for you, your baby and anyone you come in contact with. A happy, well-rested mom is good for all.
My daughter-in-law has been pushing my granddaughter too hard. Sharon was a gymnast in her younger years and she is forcing Maya to follow in her path. Sometimes Maya cries in front of me because she doesn’t want to practise, she wants to play with her friends. Maya’s time is regimented. Sharon insists it’s good for her daughter to have a routine and goals. My son picks his battles, and says this is not one he is willing to tackle. Maya just wants to be a kid and it breaks my heart. Should I mix in?
Kids Need Fun Too
Dear Kids Need Fun Too
There is no question that your heart is in the right place and you only want what’s best for Maya. It’s hard to stand back and watch her cry.
Your comments about Maya being pushed too hard, or about Sharon forcing Maya to follow her path are opinions you’ve developed that may not be exactly accurate.
Resist the urge to meddle. As a grandparent there are boundaries you shouldn’t cross. Maya is not yours to raise, you’ve raised your kids. You can and should be there for support, but that support should be helpful for the whole family.
If you feel very strongly that she is being pushed too hard, you can privately, out of the range of Maya’s ears, discuss it with your son and/or DIL, but in the end, you must respect their decision as Maya’s parents. Unless Maya is in danger, take a back seat. Offer to help, offer to talk, but do not criticize and do not empower Maya into thinking you can do something about her situation. Enjoy being a grandma and leave the details to her parents.
Ella is the author of Hidden Gold – A True Story of the Holocaust. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.