One of my best friends had her first baby one month ago. He is the cutest little guy. There is something about a newborn: how they smell, their tiny toes, how they stretch, the little squealing noises they make, and how they mold into you when you hold them. He is so sweet, and holding him takes me back to the first few days when my boys were born.
I stopped by last week and hung out with them both; soaking in this little guy, and listening to my friend share her ups and downs of the first few weeks of being a mother. I dished out a bit of advice here and there—but really, every baby is so different that sometimes there is no advice to give.
It has not been an easy road for my friend, but she is doing great. One issue that is plaguing them right now is nursing. She has had an incredibly hard time with nursing and subsequently is having to supplement with formula. But formula causes the little guy gas. He is crying and cramping and his tummy is rumbling.
To my friend, this is a big concern. She has switched formulas, tried gripe water, tried to burp him frequently, plays around with his positions, does “bicycle legs” with him for hours, anything to help her little guy. But inevitably he has gas.
My advice to her? That’s life.
He has gas.
Get used to it.
Now I don’t mean that “meanly” at all.
My first son was a relatively good baby. I figured I was doing all the right things. My second son was a really challenging baby. I realized I could do all the right things and it often it didn’t really make a huge difference.
Wanting to console your child, to protect them, to remove their pain and suffering is what any mother wants to do.
We want to take away their gas. We want to prevent their bruises and scars. We want to wipe their tears and stop them from even flowing. We want them to never feel the sting of rejection or failure. We want them to never have their feelings hurt, to never struggle with school, to never be teased or be the target of bullying.
The hardest thing to learn as a mother is that we can’t always do the things for our children that we most want to do.
I felt for my friend, who feels for her little guy who is struggling with a natural baby challenge. She wants to take that pain away from him—but there is nothing she can really do. It’s the natural life of a baby!
It is the same feeling I now get when one of my kids comes home and tells me they didn’t make the team, or one of their friends is teasing them, or they are so anxious about an upcoming test. I wish I could take away their pain and protect them. Some of the experiences are ones I know they need; they will help build their character and develop them as people. But it is still hard to sit back and watch them endure the growing pains. Other experiences don’t seem to have a purpose and cause me to question why they happen—but the only reason I can come up with is, “that’s life”.
As my friend goes through her own growing pains of motherhood, she will begin to realize that she will always face “gas” in her children’s life and often there is not much she can do. She will try to get used to this lack of control but I don’t think you ever get “used to it”, you just get through it (reciting the mantra “This too shall pass”). You learn that you have to roll with the punches, you begin to see life through a very different lens, and you realize, “that’s life!”
QUESTION: What things are hard for you or your children right now? Are they really within your control or are they just part of life?
CHALLENGE: Try to identify which things are within your control and focus your energy on them.