Does it ever get better?

"Anon for sure" left this comment on Thursday's vent post:

"My baby is almost 1 year old, and I am getting scared that things will not get better, as everyone always says. Used to sleep very well at night, and is now crying out and woke up today at 4am. She is also more irritable during the day.

Everytime we see the light, it gets snatched away from us. We are so tired of troubleshooting, coping, trying to patch up sleep snafus, etc. And this isn't really a sleep issue. This is battle fatigue from dealing with one stressor after another. I'm pissed off that we try so hard, research extensively, invest so much – and yet we have so few smooth periods.

We have a lot to be grateful for, we know. It is just so hard to have perspective. We work so hard to be good parents, and it is problem after problem. When do we get to enjoy ourselves? People say it gets easier, but I don't know if I believe them anymore."

Anon for sure, honestly, I think people who enjoy having babies are nuts. Like seriously insane. I hated it both times, and didn't even realize how much I hated it, because I loved my kids and thought it was just parenting and therefore what I'd signed up for.

But now that they're 8.5 and 5.5? Whoa. It's a whole different experience. I'm actually making decisions and having discussions and working on things with them that are interesting and that make an immediate impact, and sometimes hurt my head in a good way. And they sleep all night and deal with their own poop, and tell me if they're hurt. Yes, there are tons of things that are still Not Fun, like getting them to put on shoes, and explaining stuff like puberty and racism and divorce, and forcing them to do their homework and write thank-you notes. But we get to talk about books and ideas and feelings and thoughts, and they beat me at Wii golf and dance in the living room to Taio Cruz and can navigate from the back seat when I hand them my phone or a map.

It does get better. But seriously, not for awhile. You are not alone. Many many many of us loathe the baby/toddler experience with a capital F-U.

I was talking to an old friend of mine who is pregnant with twins after a lengthy fertility battle. She told me straight out, "I'm just going to try to make it through the first few years alive, because I don't like babies." Right on, sister. Because you know what? You don't have to like parenting a baby. You just have to do it. You keep showing up, and remember that they'll be babies for a couple of years, but they'll be your adult children for decades. And that's the payoff. Your job right now is to give them the love and boundaries and guidance and tools to be amazing adults while keeping yourself open enough to be worthy of being their parent. And then they become fun way before they're actual adults, so those years between toddler and adult are just a bonus.

That doesn't mean that there aren't hundreds of beautiful moments in the baby/toddler stage, when you feel the light of heaven shining down through your child. But the ratio of beautiful moments to mind-numbing exhaustion gets geometrically bigger as they get older.

Parenting is hard, y'all. How do you stay sane during the Red Zone Years? Or do you just accept that you can go under for awhile and come back with a vengeance later?

134 thoughts on “Does it ever get better?”

  1. I feel this lady’s pain although my rowdy daughter is only 5 months today and I wake up every morning (usually at about 5 as she is an early waker) thinking – “How do people do this?” She will not nap, wakes twice during the night if I am lucky and will not take a bottle or dummy and REALLY makes strange with EVERYONE often after acting like she loves them for a few days…. I tried different methods with the sleeping, but it is like she figures them out and then starts moaning in anticipation as soon as something works more than twice. She will not go in a buggy, but then sometimes she does. Right now I cannot be bothered trying as it is -10 here. She is a big girl (8.5 kilos) so the sling is getting HEAVY! My girlfriends who had babies before and after me go out, go back to work, and basically enjoy themselves. My parties are with Madam and myself and one or both of us usually end up crying. I think she was born like this as she ripped my drip out of my arm right after she was born and when the first doctor (a really old gentle man) examined her when she was three days old, he said: “thats a wild one, have fun.” I cannot wait for her to be 21…

  2. I turned the first corner at 15 months, another at 18, and another at 24.It does get better, not every moment(after a lovely weekend I’m recovering from a messy get-up / get-out this morning)but the easier moments start to outweigh the rough ones.
    At 15 months, he had started to get the hang of ‘running’ and was a strong walker – so my shoulder was no longer so painful and he was not as upset about me going the wrong way.
    At 18 months, he had enough language / connections that not everything was an awful game of telepathic charades.
    At 24 months we just found a ‘good most of the time’ groove.
    Good luck!

  3. Both of my children were super fussy babies and bad sleepers. The first year of their lives were hard, hard, hard. My youngest (and last) is now 18 months and I do feel that this age is really where I turned the corner and things start to get fun. The next big change for me is when they get all their teeth in.One piece of advice I read on Moxie years ago that I always try to remember is that we expect that sleep should be linear and it is not. It gets better, then worse, then better and then worse.
    To me, I would guess that your child’s latest sleep issues are centered around teething, at least that is what I like to blame all my problems on. However, I am like the poster who is always trying to troubleshoot and find a solution to the problem. And really, things usually go away on their own despite all the room darkening shades, special alarm clocks, new blankets, different pajamas, etc. etc.
    Good luck. You are a great parent and it does get easier and easier. I have a 3 year old daughter who was a horrible horrible sleeper for the first year of life, who easily and happily goes to bed, sleeps all night and gets up at a decent hour (7am) and an 18 month old who is just started getting better around 16 months although he often tries to wake up too early and is getting his molars so sometimes needs a little love in the middle of the night.

  4. Man, I have the easiest second baby in the world. Sweet, happy, sleeps well (usually), and I am still contemplating not having that third one we both really wanted a month or so ago. We even bought a bigger house, but now my husband is working from home, so the extra bedroom is an office, and I feel like I’m a bad parent to my older child because having a 13-month-old takes so much of my time/attention. Is it really worth being a bad parent to two older children for a whole 18-24 months. I’m not sure. And what if the next one is normal instead of a breeze, like the first one was. Yikes!

  5. I have blurred and yet haunting memories of the c.13 month sleep regressions and teething, plus that cranky stage that happens when babies learn to sit/crawl/walk (so the “stage” lasts for about six to twelve months, depending on the baby in question). That’s a rough, rough time.I had triplets, and for me, the first major “whoa, this has just gotten much better! And Fun!” point was 18 months. The sleep was still tough but the daytime interactions totally made up for it. Other folks I know say it took until 24 months.
    Then we hit three, and honestly, Three was just sucky. But the suck fades.
    I do think there’s something about the early trenches of first parenthood that can do a mind game on people. It’s really easy to think of sleep or crankiness as things that belong to YOU, that are the result of your own bad actions or choices, so when things are rough (NAPS), people don’t think, man this is a tough stage for naps, how will I get through? They think, what am I doing so wrong that my kid won’t nap? And now not only is your kid not napping, but you’re carrying a big load of self-doubt and maybe even self-disgust.
    So I would say, if you can get to that place mentally, try not to think of the challenges as arising from choices you’re making. Because really, that’s just not so likely. Especially not for someone who writes, “we try so hard, research extensively, invest so much – and yet we have so few smooth periods.”
    Moxie has some self-care posts scattered around, “how to cope when you’re in a stage that’s kicking your ass,” and I think those are the posts that can help here.
    Good luck. It DOES get better. And I write that as someone who really LOVES babies, and wishes I’d gotten to have more.

  6. To me, the entire first two years were like, “What happened to my old life?” It is very hard to adjust to ALWAYS having to be on-call for a totally irrational human being. And, as a lactation consultant once told me, you you are mourning the loss of your old, pre-baby life. And it’s hard because everybody expects that you’re just totally on cloud 9 all the time. I remember people asking me, “Don’t you just LOVE it?” I smiled and said yes, but in my mind I thought, “No, f**k you.”I always say that I loved my son from birth, but I didn’t really _enjoy_ him until 18 months. That was the first time he seemed like a real person who could actually do little activities and stuff. And it gets progressively better from there. So hang in there, you’re almost there.

  7. It really, really does get better. You may have to hang on for a bit longer until it does. But it will.I adore babies. But I tell you, much as I think babies are one of the niftiest things around, I never, ever wake up at 3 AM and wish I had one wailing in my house!
    First thing to get clear, OP…. you aren’t doing anything WRONG. It’s just what it is right now. It WILL change.
    You are laying the groundwork for an entire lifetime of family life. For you, these may be the very hardest days you have. The work and challenges you face today will pay off a hundredfold in your future and your child’s future.
    One thing I do advise is to treat yourself as kindly as possible and value yourself and your efforts. That means caring for health, and spending a little more time on yourself than you may feel you should take right now. Because if someone else was going through what you’re going through now, you’d want someone to treat them nicely, wouldn’t you?
    Best wishes for a suddenly sunny toddler who fills your house with giggles and cuddles.

  8. Yes, it does really get better. Especially when they are old enough for preschool. A couple hours a day a few days a week doesn’t sound like much, but it was a life saver for me.My second son was so much easier than my first, and I don’t think it’s because they were all that different tempermentally. If anything, the younger one was even hungrier than the older one. But, I cared less. Not in the sense that I didn’t love him, because I did — fiercely — but because I just kinda went with the flow. I stopped reading and researching obsessively. I called the ped if there was something really worrying me. It is SO HARD to get to that point, though, and damn near impossible with your first. I was a mess the first time around.
    The easing happened gradually for me, so I can’t really say it was easier at X months. But I will say that I LOVE 2 year olds. I found the full-on toddler stage more manageable than the needy infant stage.

  9. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for posting this. I am a new mom of a 3.5 month old and it went from people telling us “Oh, make it to 6 weeks and it gets better,” to “make it to 3 months and it gets better.” I have stopped listening. I haven’t been doing this very long, but I am learning that this is just plain HARD and it although some things do improve, the job changes and does not necessarily get any easier. Our reason for having children was to create a family, not to have a baby per say. I pretty much hated being pregnant 85% of the time and had to listen to people go on and on about how they just LOVED it. Then I had to remind myself that we were lucky that we could get pregnant etc – ahhh guilt! These past few months have been some of the hardest of my life. In the darker moments, usually after only 2 hours of sleep, there have been times where we questioned if we made the right decision having a baby. At the same time, we are so grateful for her and are planning all of the things we can show her in life and get teary-eyed thinking about them. Going through all these contradictory emotions is rough and all I can say is if you feel as if you are going to “the dark place” know that you are not alone! I do believe it is all worthwhile (however I just had a good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee – so we are HAPPY today!) Thanks to Moxie and to everyone who has posted on this site by the way. The honesty on here is sooo refreshing and at times has given me the jolt I needed to keep going.

  10. I had an awful, awful time with my babies. Awful. Hated that life. Wanted to love it. Felt ashamed of hating it.And now they are 3 and 5 and life is interesting and fun again in all the ways Moxie said.
    It gets better. And being miserable taking care of a one year old does not make you a bad mom.

  11. I distinctly remember coming home from the hospital with my first child and having the Worst Night Ever and thinking, “It’s going to be this hard for the next 18 years – what have I done?”That thought really characterized my own personal version of postpartum depression. I lost all perspective on the fact that she WOULD grow up and change and that it WOULD get easier. Sure, sometimes it’s 2 steps forward, 1 step back, but I haven’t sat up all night with her, shirtless, both of us crying, trying to get her to nurse or to sleep, I don’t care which, just for the love of God let me sleep… in a long time now. Actually, last time I was up with her in the night was just a month ago, she had strep, and it was almost (dare I say it?) nice. She’s 5 now, and we don’t get to snuggle all night and just BE like that very much anymore.
    You’ll probably balk at this, but what really helped me was having another child (and a prescription for Zoloft). I got pregnant again when my oldest was 11 months (oops!) and while at the time I thought it was a disaster, it turned out that she was exactly what I needed, and exactly what our family needed. (Here’s a secret of having two – they entertain each other!)
    Now I’m extremely pregnant with #3. The oldest two are 5 and 3-1/2. And I wish I could go back to when my oldest was 12 months and say, “Hang in there – it gets easier. It gets AWESOME, actually, and someday you’re going to do it again ON PURPOSE, even knowing exactly what you’re in for!” But since I can’t say it to myself, I’ll just put it out there for you. It gets better.

  12. I agree with Moxie, and the commenters, and everyone. I’d also like to add- if it feels like you are trying so hard to get everything to run smoothly, and it still doesn’t– TRY LESS HARD. I know it sounds ridiculous, but if you kind of accept that it’s an imperfect job, and you are giving it a decent effort but not the effort you’d expend to get a perfect outcome, you might be a lot less upset when you don’t get a perfect outcome. I found that a certain level of both accepting the difficulty AND accepting that I was not 100% amazing at this really dialed down my unhappiness.Good luck to you, Anon!

  13. I agree wholeheartedly with everything above. Only thing I would add is, at some point it’s healthy and normal and beneficial to have a balance. I may get slammed for this but the kids that I have seen that are the most “work” in emotionally demanding ways are the kids with the parents that are the most stressed and trying the hardest. I have no idea if it’s a chicken/egg issue, but at some point you can give yourself permission to stop troubleshooting, stop researching and investing so much. Just give yourself permission to let go of the things that are not going to do you or your child permanent harm. If you think about it, all the work you’re doing is exhausting – try the other approach for a while and see how it feels. It’s also more than okay to sort of mentally check out for a while if you can. It can give you a break and it will not harm your child. You’re still there for them. Good luck.

  14. I don’t comment as much now as I used to when I had my first child (she’s almost 3.5 now), but I just wanted to drop a line today to say…Thanks, Moxie, for your continued good work.
    It isn’t just that posts like the one today help me as much now as they did back then. It’s that–given how long you have been writing this blog, and how long I have been reading it–I feel that I am getting even more from learning how you have changed and grown in your style of parenting over time. It gives me time to reflect on where I used to be and where I am now, and that is *so* valuable to me as I parent my young children.
    Now, to the point, I could not agree more with Jody above.
    If the OP can possibly work it, she should consider the fact that the majority of the time (as our esteemed blog leader here has said), the things that we *do* (or read, or research) to try to get our infants/young toddlers to change/behave, are just actions we perform while the children sort out their life on their own. If it makes you feel better to act, then do it! But, from your post, it sounds like you feel that you are putting in a ton of effort for very little reward. Just know that it isn’t your fault! Feel free to put down the books and trust your instincts.
    I would also like to admit that I have trouble saying, “It will get better,” when the time frame I’m talking about is YEARS. Those of you (like me now) who are mothering a newborn might think, “YEARS? Screw you people…I can’t wait YEARS for this to change.” But, as the old parenting adage goes, the days may be long, but the years are short. They really are.

  15. I’ll chime in, too. Most definitely babies are hard work, demoralizing to their very overstretched parents, and make it very easy to fall into a sleep-deprived tunnel of thinking this is the grey drudgery of the rest of your life.I was there, through most of my daughter’s first 6 months. Then through a fair amount of her second 6 months. Then with some setbacks (separation anxiety from 13-15 months, I’m looking at you), it got better. When I finally got down to one nursing a night, it was like the clouds opened up. When I night-weaned her, it was like the sky suddenly cleared entirely.
    We are now at 4.5, and it’s been very very fun and rewarding in increasing increments with every 6 months since. We are currently breaking her of a new habit of coming in to sleep with us at night, spawned from her recently cold. I am much more firm, and can use a few words and basic logic with her to get my point across. We are making progress, and what I notice most about this “sleep training” this time around is I don’t have the deep traumatic flashbacks I used to get, caused by her babyhood. I can deal like a somewhat sane person. I thought I’d been scarred for life!
    Strength to you, and a big YES! to taking some care and time for yourself. I loved it when daycare started.

  16. “I do think there’s something about the early trenches of first parenthood that can do a mind game on people. It’s really easy to think of sleep or crankiness as things that belong to YOU, that are the result of your own bad actions or choices, so when things are rough (NAPS), people don’t think, man this is a tough stage for naps, how will I get through? They think, what am I doing so wrong that my kid won’t nap? And now not only is your kid not napping, but you’re carrying a big load of self-doubt and maybe even self-disgust.”THIS. This is one of the great secrets of parenthood that it is almost impossible to learn until #2 comes around! We were constantly thinking with #1, is he too hot is he too cold are we too loud (srsly, we were afraid to flush the toilet while he was sleeping for like 13 months) is he teething is he sick should we co sleep more should we be ‘training’ him? etc etc etc. It got so much BETTER once I gave up trying to find some kind of reason & was just like ok he’s sleeping badly now but it will get better. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a magical formula to rainbows and puppies – it just made life more bearable to know a) it wasn’t me and b) it was a stage that would end. Thank GOD I found Moxie before the 18 month sleep regression because we were able to just ride it out, knowing what was happening.
    Count me in the category of the insane – I love love love babies. My 6 month old (#2) is such a pumpkin I just want to eat him up all the time. Just holding him makes me want #3. But it’s still HARD for us. He won’t sleep; he’s possibly the worst sleeper ever, and some days I’m holding on by a thread (he rarely sleeps more than 45 min-1.5 at night, so basically we wakes up at least 7 times a night every night, and during the day I have a 2.5 year old who needs so much patience).
    The other thing I want to say is that even though I love babies & feel super comfortable around them I was *shocked* a how hard the adjustment to parenthood was – how unrelenting it is and exhausting and how little space there was for me. I spent DS #1’s 1st year in a state of shock and semi-resentment , alongside my enjoyment of his babyhood. So with first babies a lot of complicated things are happening simultaneously.
    OP, you are doing a GREAT job; being honest with how you feel & expressing it is key! Not loving a certain stage =/= not loving your child.

  17. My son turned one yesterday. Our first few months were hell: he was colicky, he didn’t want to sleep, I had postpartum depression and thought I was just broken and my life would never be better again. (I know, it’s ridiculous, but I really believe it at the time. I thank God every day for the makers of Zoloft; at 3 months I finally admitted to myself and my OB that I wasn’t okay, and the blue pills were the help I needed to find myself again.)Drew is one now, and I adore him like crazy. But he still doesn’t like to sleep. His nap schedule has never been great; lately there’s also been teething, the excitement of learning how to crawl and then to pull up to standing, a cold and then croup, etc, etc. He goes to sleep pretty easily most nights around 6:30 (exhausted because he hasn’t really napped much!) but last night he was up and fussing at 9:30, 1:45, and 5:20, at which point I finally gave him a bottle and he went back down until 6. He’s incredibly stubborn; he’s capable of screaming for a solid hour, standing and rattling the bars of his crib, if no one comes to soothe him in the night.
    I miss getting good sleep. I fantasize about sleep. But I know things are so much better than they were when he was only a few months old; I can count on getting 8h of sleep a night now, even if it’s broken into three chunks, and that makes a huge difference.
    And he’s turning into a really neat little guy, and I can see that he will be even more fun and even more interesting as he gets older. But boy howdy: I don’t know how anyone does this twice!

  18. My son just turned one and he really does not sleep through the night either. He did until he hit 8 months, but we all know what happens then and he was no exception. While the past few weeks have been a lot better, he does still wake up and my husband and I just bring him in the bed. I’m not going to “parent” or try some sleep technique in the middle of the night.

  19. Feel your pain for sure. My second is 15 months and continues to be a bad sleeper – although better over the last couple of months, still bad. So bad that I don’t deal with him in the middle of the night anymore (I spent the first 11 months of his life literally getting about 4 hours of nonconsecutive sleep a night, literally – so my patience in the middle of the night is now nil.)I know how frustrating it is. But, keep in mind, if babies and sleeping were a sure thing, there would not be so many books and opinions on the subject.
    I get throught these days (with a 15 month old and 3 yr old) truthfully by trying to hold onto that heartwarming moment that happens in the midst of a totally chaotic day and by being forgiving to myself. It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in shame and guilt for not always feeling the glow of motherhood or for handling something in a way you wish you could do over. That’s what keeps me going.
    Hang in there, they say it gets better! Gotta believe ’em, otherwise we’d go crazy!

  20. Amen Moxie! Like it, love it, fun, magical, those are all words that can sabotage a parent. All children are different, and some are so much harder in one area than another.Having said that, all I can say is love. Breathe. Love.
    Focus on one day at a time.
    Find out what gives YOU a sense of joy and make sure you include that in your life.
    If you can do *anything* just for you, it will off-set the feelings you’re having, just a tiny bit. It will fill you up inside. Emotionally filling your needs, will allow you to go back to what isn’t making you that happy, with a bit more sanity and clarity.
    There is no doubt, I am sure, that you LOVE your child. What’s most important is that you don’t get filled with guilt regrading your feeling about your parenting during these early days.
    Parenting is like a walk through fire, a lot of the time. When you’re done with a stage, you’re glad there’s no more fire, but now you worry about the damage done from walking through it.
    If you remain focused on when it will change, and how much you don’t like it, you’re filling yourself with guilt, remorse, and resentment, and that can prolong the agony.
    Focus on the love you feel, if you can. Emotionally feed yourself what you need. Emotionally and physically feed your child what she needs, and soon it will change.
    As my father said, “this too, will change!”

  21. My son was a very high-needs infant–he would only be soothed by me, and wanted to be carried around constantly. Even with my Mobywrap, it was draining on so many levels to pace around the house for hours during his fussy period in the afternoon. To be frank, my memories of how hard it was for the first 8 months are not an insignificant factor in our decision to put off trying for a second for a little longer. I need my son to be a little more self-sufficient before I can contemplate going back into that again.It honestly might not get much easier for a long time, but it gets BETTER. Wait until she hugs you, or kisses you, or tells you she loves you. When she starts doing things to make you laugh. When she tells you how pretty you are or how you are her best friend. It gets better.
    We just hit three over here, and if there is anything more adorable than a good-mood 3yo I don’t know what it is. My theory is that this is to ensure that you don’t tell them to play on the yellow dotted line the rest of the time, because he is also largely a rotten hellbeast for a fairly significant amount of time. Honestly, I’m enjoying the hell out of his toddlerhood, but there have been a couple days when I have walked out of the house less than 5 minutes after my husband walked in. NO ONE enjoys every single moment. You enjoy as much as you can, and endure the rest.

  22. Oh I really hated the baby stage because I was flat out exhausted all.the.time. He never slept well and was cranky most evenings and every time he woke up pretty much until he turned two. And yet there were plenty of the moments that Moxie so perfectly described as the light of heaven shining down through my child. I held on tight to those and I also cried a lot. I cried by myself and with him and thought I would never, ever feel like myself again. I would hit wall after wall where I thought I simply cannot manage like this for one more minute. And then something would shift ever so slightly and I did manage to go on. He started sleeping longer stretches of time. Down to one wake up a night. Then at some point he started easily going back to sleep after he woke up instead of being awake for two hours wanting to play or screaming for an hour in the middle of the night. He got all his teeth in and the crying, fussy, fever from teething boy disappeared. These things all happened and while parenting a toddler is still challenging, I get a regular amount of sleep and there just isn’t anything as soul crushing as parenting through sleep deprivation. IMO.I distinctly remember being awake early one morning and I realized it was the first time since Tate was born that I was awake so early and he wasn’t *and* I wasn’t panicked about it. It does get better.
    And I like MamaBird’s advice to try less hard. I know I thought it all had to be perfect and if it wasn’t working, I was doing it wrong. Sometimes things suck, sometimes they don’t go according to the best laid plans, sometimes your kid just doesn’t get the memo. Expectations can kill happiness especially when it comes to life with a baby/toddler.

  23. I agree with Erin. With #1 I doubted every move I made–except for nursing–for the first 12 months, probably, even though in the end I think the more “instinctually” I parented the better she did.With #2 I was not a disaster. Experience counts.
    BUT. I also agree with Shannon, in that it is hard to adjust to the on-call all-the-time of it. I climbed out by degrees. Book club here, jogging there. It took probably until my kids were 4 and 2 to really feel like I was anywhere near my pre-baby intellectual capacity and confidence (though about entirely different things than I was pre-baby).
    My husband is itching for baby #3. Loudly. I am extremely hesitant, because I am not sure that I *want* to fall down the rabbit hole again. I have no doubt that the way I parented age 0-2 was GOOD for my kids. But it was ALL CONSUMING–plus we have the two older ones. Who turned out great but are not exactly independent (PreK and 1st grade now). My husband works full time plus (60 hr weeks are common for him) and I am having difficulty explaining this to him without sounding whiny.

  24. I am finding 2 years (27 months) so, so hard; much harder than the first year. But that might be because I have a seven month old as well. I can’t believe that I’m going back to work when both kids hit stages marked by separation anxiety and sleep regressions. Not that either sleeps now…. So, I hope it gets better, but I’m not sure when.

  25. This is so good to read this morning. I have a newly 3 year old, an almost 2 year old, and a 4.5 month old. We just returned from visiting family out of state for Thanksgiving, and I don’t think all three children were EVER asleep at the same time for 5 days straight. I’m starting to feel loopy. At this point, visiting family is fun but also a LOT of HARD, HARD work. I am now feeling down about our upcoming Christmas trip and my ability to cope, as well as the prospect of every holiday in the future. This is giving me hope that things will one day be relaxing and fun on trips again (I’m sure not pre-baby relaxing and fun, but I hope not like now).To the OP–my two older kids were TERRIBLE sleepers until about 14 months and then things just magically got better at that point for some reason. I don’t know what it was, but it happened to us twice! It was definitely hardest with my first because it was hard to believe what people said about it improving. But really, hang in there. It will get better. No one can promise a certain time when it will for your kid, but one day you’ll look back on it and feel like the lack of sleep was a blink in time. I promise.

  26. Wow, is this post coming at the perfect time for me. I’m an older SAHM to my 8-month-old after many childless years working in the IT field, and I’ve seriously hit rock bottom with the unending awful sleep deprivation and the day-in-day-out drudgery and constant on-call baby duty and housecleaning and never having a day off, never getting to have more than an hour or two away from my son (even though I adore him, I really do). I feel like a terrible mother for not enjoying this time that I’m so very lucky to be able to have with him. I don’t even feel like decorating for Christmas this year. The thought of buying gifts, making cookies, putting up the tree, and all the other holiday experiences that I’ve normally looked forward to with great anticipation and joy just makes me want to hide in a closet and cry. That I might have YEARS more of this life ahead of me is depressing beyond belief. The comments here are giving me some hope that things will get better some day.

  27. I was up from 12am-4am Saturday night with my twins who seem to be going through their 15 month growth spurt. I love them to the end of the earth, and I actually like babies, but I felt pretty rotten about the whole parenting thing right then.I don’t have any advice to offer except to try not to overthink it. This being my second time around the parenting block I’ve realized how much added stress I gave myself by all the research and thinking I did about the eating and the sleeping and whether she was hitting her milestones with my first child.
    I find that even though these babies (and there are two of them) are much worse sleepers than she was, I am much more relaxed and I am enjoying them much more because I’ve just accepted that this is the way it is, and I do my best with the few brain cells I have left from the chronic sleep deprivation.
    And I’m holding on to Moxie’s promised nirvana of when they can talk and reason and do actually sleep through the night 😉

  28. You know, I do think part of what makes it hard is that cycle where something sucks, you do a ton a research and thinking and troubleshooting, the sucking somehow gets less and you think all that effort DID IT! and maybe it did, but it doesn’t work forever and then all that work feels wasted because the solution didn’t last forever.True confession: I loved the baby stage, even though I did NOT expect to because I’ve never really been a baby person. But for me, it fit. I had one high-needs and one easy, and I loved mommy-ing both. I can’t even explain it except that there was something about being needed that way, about knowing that I was the answer, that was just … right for me. I guess the way I figured it, if I couldn’t fix it for them, it was because it was un-fixable. I could be there and that was still the best thing available.
    My problem is that now, now that they are older (5 and 6), I sometimes am not and do not have a solution. Hell, sometimes I AM the problem. And you know what? That is not going to get better or easier.
    That’s sort of a tangent, except that for the original poster, maybe you can take some comfort in the fact that your baby will not be a baby forever. Over time, your baby will become less and less of the things that are hard for you.
    Meanwhile, I’m over here worried that the best of parenting is behind me and that I’m just going to get worse from here. 🙁

  29. There’s definitely something in our culture that exalts the baby stage, to the real detriment to those of us that are actually, you know, LIVING with a baby.I now have a 7 year old and a 4 year old. The early years are like a weird smear of memories and emotional highs and lows. It was tough. It was crazy. Crazy hard on me, emotionally and physically (how did I do it? How did I ever go to a job and function while being up every so many hours throughout the night–for months??) Crazy hard on my husband. On our marriage.
    I am just now catching up on my sleep. Catching up on the laundry! Catching up on the grime on the baseboards and the crayon on the wall. Just now. Finally.
    OP, I love it, because you know you have a lot to be grateful for. Yep. Just hard to keep it in perspective. Those 2 sentences there tell me you got yourself a baby, fersure. And it’s hard! Just get through one day at a time. You can do it! It does often suck. Did I mention that?

  30. This post is such a welcome breath of fresh air, I can’t even tell you! But, THANK YOU. I am due with my first in February and while I am so excited to parent a CHILD, I have never been a huge fan of infants, perse. Even now when people hand me their babies I am like, Um, no thanks. Don’t get me wrong – I am so excited to be a mom – but I am excited about the childhood and beyond stages…I will pour my all into the infant and toddler stage as well of course but what I am really excited about are the later stages…not the spitting up and diapers and lack of sleep, LOL.

  31. What a beautiful answer, Moxie. Thank you, from the mom of a wild 19-month-old boy and wife to a man who wants to have another. Whew! I’m having a hard time convincing myself to do it again.

  32. Hang in there. You’re doing a great job. My little guy didn’t sleep super well and I finally found peace by just letting go of the sleep battles. I just resigned myself to doing whatever worked best for us, as imperfect as it was, and tried to catch up on my sleep whenever possible. For me, the added stress of agonizing over every strategy was more exhausting than the lack of sleep. I honestly prayed to God one night for the answer and turned it over to Him. There wasn’t a lightning bolt answer, just peace that it would get better. And eventually (right around 11 months for us), he started sleeping through the night finally.

  33. @ Moxie -I think people who enjoy having babies are nuts. Like seriously insane.
    Um, yeah. Babies are really tough. So, why is this one the first places that I have ever read this?
    Thanks to Moxie for telling it like it is. I have found that most people sentimentalize parenting, and de-emphasize the challenges. It is like they are either: a) afraid to tell you or, b) in denial themselves.
    I am not trying to say that parenting is without joy – of course, there are many joyful moments. But as Moxie points out, the younger the child, the lower the ratio of good to bad. It is just that simple. I think new parents would benefit a great deal from hearing the truth and being validated for feeling overwhelmed. The Hallmark card version is not reality for most people with a little baby.

  34. I also want to add one piece of advice for the OP. If you have the opportunity, ask or let your family keep your baby for a weekend. Or, have your hubby keep your baby and take a short trip by yourself.I send my son to my mother in law for a weekend about once every three months, and it’s amazing what those hours of solitude can do. Usually, I just sleep in and sit on the couch — no agenda to clean anything or be productive in any way. It can be just what the Dr. ordered.
    I honestly think such a weekend kept me from sinking into depression when my baby was 6 months old and I, like the OP, felt like it would never get better.

  35. My daughter is now almost 4 (OMGOMG) and as I think about these things, I wonder a lot whether I’m remembering things as they really were. I *remember* that I LOOOOVED the baby stage. Then I say, well, except for the nights when I sat up crying with desperation for sleep. And the fact that she couldn’t tolerate being put down (like, blow a blood vessel screaming). And the severe separation anxiety combined with refusal to take a bottle that started at 4 months, so we completely gave up on babysitters and have yet to get back in the habit of doing things as a couple.But I found toddlerhood so intolerable that the days I spent with her nursing, or contentedly in my arms or the ever-present Snugli seem like nirvana. See, back then she couldn’t run away from me and destroy things and risk killing herself!
    The best thing I did for my own sanity was start a mothers-day-out preschool. I wish I’d tried it sooner (but the separation issues…) I have really loved parenting more since she turned 3, although this stage has its own problems.
    Overall, I think the biggest issue is just my own identity crisis of being a SAHM after years of working and being GOOD at my job. I feel like I suck at this [looking around at messy house and feeling “meh” about it]. I’ve started saying that for me its like the old quote about democracy: the worst form of government, except for all the others. This job is the worst job for me, except that it still beats the alternative (for a lot of reasons specific to me, not meaning to speak for others).
    I agree SO MUCH with the others above saying let go of whatever you can let go of. (Definitely any outside pressure and expectations.) The more children I know, the more convinced I am that parents can do next to nothing to change how they are. Or, really I should say: WHO they are.

  36. I swear, we need to start a series of viral videos for PARENTS called “It Gets Better.”In my experience, the “smooth periods” are few and far between, and VERY short lived in the first year. So far, I’ve had two nights in the first nine months of Dd2’s life where she’s slept for longer than 3.5 hours at a stretch. Those are the smooth periods. The rough bits are the weeks of nothing but 45 minutes at a time. I’m really not safe to drive, honestly, but life goes on and groceries have to be got!
    I remember heavenly light, and puppies and rainbows starting at about 18 months. I still didn’t want another kid – was TERRIFIED every month during the countdown to my period – but I at least had gotten to the point where I was enjoying the one we had.
    I want to encourage you that your research and deliberate parenting approach will totally pay off if applied during toddlerhood and early preschool years. In babyhood, it’s really just survival. But when it’s time to discipline and start actually training the little animals to be humans – your arsenal of research and a good framework of expectations will be your friend. Good, consistent discipline really makes things more pleasant for everyone!
    But for now, just muscle through. It sucks – let yourself admit how much you hate it. Grieve for the life you’ve lost. Find a way to sneak off for a night and SLEEEEEEEP if you can. xx

  37. With my daughter, I enjoyed the first 15 months. Now that she is almost 20 months, not so much. She is shrieking whenver she doesn’t get what she wants, wich means shrieking every 5 minutes. She is also yelling for MORE and MAMAAAA, and CAT. I have always been sensitive to loud noise and after 4 days straight with her screaming I was glad to come back to work.I would say her cute moments still out number the non-cute, but I am definitely finding it challenging to be patient right now.

  38. I’m with the one anon commenter, and Olivia. The first year wasn’t horrible. Now that DS is 27 months, I swear he sleeps worse than he did as an infant. I can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. And when he cried as an infant, I could pick him up and comfort him. Now, if I pick him up while he’s crying, he kicks me. He’s not like that all the time…but those moments in time seem to stick more than the good ones. :(The worst part is that I am pregnant again (that was a surprise), and am terrified of the next 5 years of my life. Terrified. Pretty sure I will be the first parent to fail at having 2 children.

  39. I got a late start and figured I’d have two close together. Now I know that I am not one of those moms that can have two children close in age and not go insane – it would mean deep emotional scars for my kids. All of you out there that have closely spaced kids and are keeping it together, you have my deep awe and respect.I figure I would be able to handle a 3.5 – 4 year age gap, but I’ll be well past my own personal cut off point; too old. I’d have another right now if I could jump straight to the stage my little one is right now (2.5).

  40. amazing post, thank you so, so much. i have changed my entire life plan based on my reactions to the infant and young toddler stage. always thought i wanted more than one, but can’t even imagine going through that again. I feel guilty for being so selfish, tortured at the thought i might regret this choice much later in life, but yet. . .can’t. even. imagine. going through that again.

  41. Thank you to Moxie and thank you to all these posts. It is so nice to not feel like a bad mom. I hated infant and I am not liking toddler stage very much.At almost 2.5, DS is world’s better than his first 2 years. It gets better, but I have post traumatic stress from colic, horrible teething and sensory processing disorder/late talking. My only blessing is he sleeps through the night. Of course, I am debating keeping in a crib until he starts kindergarten.
    He is an only child and we will no way be having another one. We are counting the minutes until he is 5.

  42. @Rudyinparis, You said it. My experience exactly to a T. Well…so far at 2.5 years.The one thing I want to add is that for me the hardest thing during all of this time from infant to toddler years is managing my own Type A personality and it’s desire to problem solve, problem solve, problem solve.
    It’s hard to let those things go (napping/sleeping, eating, tantrums etc.) and to resign yourself to the fact as many have mentioned above that a) you have no control and b) you can’t always problem solve it. It’s especially hard to let those things go when they affect your sleeping, eating, emotional stability and general well-being.
    Just now at 2.5 years I am starting to be able to differentiate between when to problem solve and when to do whatever is necessary to retain my sanity. And to recognize when those ‘whatever is necessary’ periods are upon us. They creep up sometimes and it’s hard to recognize when you went from an ‘off day’ to a ‘phase that seriously kicks your ass’.
    Sleep deprivation on top of everything really clouds your judgment, so it makes it that much harder.
    But yes, I will throw my hat into the ‘it gets easier’ ring. It really does.

  43. Try less hard. You cannot force them to sleep, you cannot force them to eat. You cannot force them to play on their own. You can only force yourself to care more or less. Don’t hover, don’t research, don’t overplan, don’t try to fix the baby. Baby is awake, well be with the baby, baby is asleep, sleep yourself, or take a bath, relax. Don’t plan your life around the baby. This is really hard to understand as a first time parent, I did not either. But when number 2 comes along, you have a lightbulb moment of , “we’ll roll with it.” Roll, as much as you can. You feed them, you love them, you stimulate them, good for you. Now, put the little monkey in a stroller, go out and get yourself a giant hot chocolate and a cookie the size of your torso and take a big deep breath. This too shall pass, although not until about 3 years. You will get through this, millions of us have done it and know exactly how you feel.

  44. I just wanted to add to my earlier post, to those of you who have expressed fear of having a #2: I totally get it, and don’t want to presume that all experience of a #2 are the same (I know this is not the case!), but wanted to add this data point: I found #2 so. much. easier. Because I had learned to let go, and what I wasn’t going to get worked up about, am less anxious about things, and I had already adjusted to the unrelenting nature of parenting (which was the hardest part for me). I’ve enjoyed #2 so much more as a result, even with the disastrous sleep. Your experience with #1 doesn’t necessarily determine your experience with #2 (in terms of your emotional state or the child’s personality).

  45. I wish I’d read something like this when my first was little, because, yeah- I constantly felt like I was failing as a mother. I have strong memories of pushing my baby around the neighborhood for her nap and crying because WHY COULDN’T I GET HER TO NAP IN HER CRIB??? I MUST SUCK. Um, yeah. No, I didn’t. She just had a hard time falling asleep. (But hey, she can fall asleep on her own now, despite the dire warnings from folks about how I was spoiling her by not forcing the issue earlier.)My own mom kept trying to point out how my baby was thriving, and that was really all that mattered, not whether or not she would nap for me, and I wouldn’t really believe her. So chances are I wouldn’t have really believed Moxie, either. I guess I had to come to it on my own. But she’s right.
    I went on to have a second baby, and it has been soooo much easier this time around. Part of that is that baby #2 actually slept and napped in her moses basket when she was little, and is over all a much calmer, easier to soothe little girl. But part of it also is that it was my second time around. As several people have noted, the experience helps, if only because you really, truly understand that it is all just a phase. But you know what also helps? The fact that I am comfortable as a mother now. With my first, I was still trying to find my new identity as a mother. And that is harder than we usually acknowledge, too. Or at least it was for me. I’m getting slightly better sleep this time around (which is HUGE and don’t let anyone tell you that the sleep deprivation of early parenthood isn’t a big deal), but honestly, I still think that the fact that I’m comfortable in my mommy skin is the biggest reason that I’m finding things easier this time.
    @Meghan, @Olivia, @anon (the people who are finding early toddlerhood harder than babyhood)- that would be the case with my second baby, too. She was the sort of little baby who is like a little advertisement for having babies, all snuggly and cute and laid back. Now, she gets so frustrated and is exerting her own will more. Luckily for me, the experience factor has kicked in and I know that things get a lot easier when the baby figures out how to communicate. My number 1 suggestion for this age? Baby signing. I think it accelerates the learning to communicate process and honestly, even if it removes only one frustrated outburst a day, it is worth it. Besides, a baby signing “more” is just about the cutest thing around.

  46. Sorry for the multiple posts, but I just realized my response to Laura was incoherent – I was referring to the idea of starting It gets better- Mommyhood edition.

  47. For us, life was pure hell until he turned about 2. Things got better when he turned 3. Now that’s he’s five I don’t know what to do with myself. He is so awesome! And sure, we have moments, but it is nothing like parenting a baby/toddler. I forgot life could be this good.To survive those years I went to the gym almost every single day and maxed out my time in childcare. I also bounced around from moms group to moms group until I found a group that fit me.

  48. Oh the tyranny of Doing It Right! Of Finding What Works! Of Loving Every Minute!Fuck ’em.
    I think parenting is a real kick in the ass to any woman who has ever enjoyed any success doing just about anything else. We learn that our own efforts can have predictable, measurable, appreciated outcomes.
    Then we have babies and overnight our own efforts have inconsistent and unpredictable outcomes, the measurements of success we hear about are lies (truth: babies are meant to eat and sleep in small bits and pieces – what is “success” for most of them feels like the darkest pits of hell to many of their mothers, and yet we all think Through The Night In Six Weeks [or months] is reasonable) and through the course of a day, you’ll hardly ever hear a Thank You, never mind an “awesome job – you’re really making a difference here.”
    My own peace with parenting (kids are now 3.5 and 2) came when I decided that what “works” is what makes *me* feel most whole, most peaceful and least angry. It is so much easier to live with children who are doing what they’re supposed to do (sleep in short stints, eat sparingly, explore the world, test boundaries, see how things work, become their own selves…) and focus my energy on guiding that process rather than on turning them into Tracy Hogg’s (or mother-in-law’s or [insert other person here], or frankly, pre-child-me’s) version of success.
    All that to say to the OP and the rest of us, this is hard work we’re doing. Success isn’t being able to say “it’s so easy” – it’s being able to say “I did it.” “It” being, got up and faced the world. Again.
    Keep on friends. Keep on.

  49. I’m with Moxie, I hate the baby stage, and hated myself for hating it. I actually wrote “BE CALM” on the palm of my hand many many days during the first year of my colicky screamer.eldest is 3.5, tiny is 13 mos and I am just starting to get my wits. I second all the advice and my fav. thing Moxie has said “your baby sleeps the way your baby sleeps- you have very little control over it”. wow, that set me free. try to relax. I printed out an essay by Anna Quindlen and keep it on my desk to remind me of the impermance of the stages. can’t find the original post online, but here it is embedded in a blog:
    good luck. 🙂

  50. @casey – I have the African symbol, Akoma (which stands for patience and tolerance) tatooed on my wrist. Told myself from just about day 1 of being a parent that I would need a constant reminder.

  51. Haven’t read all the comments but this very topic brought me to askmoxie and I couldn’t be more grateful. I have a 2 year old boy who was actually an easy newborn but after 4 months all hell broke loose and its a long sorted story but I can relate to the constant researching looking for that magical story/theory of a mom who had a baby just like mine and she did “this” and it worked and there was hope for us! In fact I still do it and on my google list is toddler hitting/ throwing/ and discipline that might work with my uber busy boy. We are that mom/child that everyone marvels at at the park/my gym/ indoor playground because he!!Anyway, it does get better and then changes again and again. We have great time period and then another tooth will start coming or sleep training was going great and then everyone got sick and thus we start all over.
    What helped for me was figuring out the stuff that my kid has a hard time with so I didn’t come undone by all the regression when we traveled, a tooth comes in, a developmental spurt(sneaky) and knowing it wasn’t going to last, very long at least!
    Also taking the pressure off doing *everything* so when things are hard we order more or eat more sandwiches. I hand over laundry tasks to DH, during nap time I do nothing but play on my laptop or read a non-parenting book, do less in general and conserve my energy for the nights which is our achilles heel.
    I got a buddy, here on askmoxie a fellow mom who has a boy with very similar quirks that my guy has and they are just months apart so I have someone who can completely relate to where we are at, who can appreciate what we’ve come through. We have been able to support each other through our continued sleep challenges which has been so immensely helpful!!! When you have a 2 year old who doesn’t sleep through the night and still nurses( a lot) you get some really odd looks and some really snarky comments at the play groups:(
    Anyway find something that works for you to recharge your battery a bit to ride out the storm.

  52. Thank you, Moxie! Thank you for sharing, ladies. I send you all warm hugs from Europe. I was first to post with the mad 5 month old. It is so nice to hear that it a lot of people have similar experiences.

  53. @Hanginginthere- Next year your little one can help you bake Christmas cookies! While it might take years for things to improve overall, there are baby (ha!) steps towards improving.I’m actually having a hard time with guilt this time around. My 3 year-old son has such a fun (and, yes, trying) personality, but the 4 month-old is such a blank slate that I don’t feel like I know her. I’d also forgotten how hard it is not to be able to do anything (or have to do it one-handed). I know it gets easier (or at least the challenges change) because I have my son as proof, but I can’t always remember that especially when I haven’t showered and am surrounded by piles of dirty clothes.

  54. @ACJ- this bit: “what “works” is what makes *me* feel most whole, most peaceful and least angry.” is just perfect.Because really, I don’t do my best parenting when I’m angry or stressed out!

  55. Everyone here is amazeballs and already said what I was going to say a lot less eloquently, so I will just quote some of you -What @Shannon said: “I remember people asking me, “Don’t you just LOVE it?” I smiled and said yes, but in my mind I thought, “No, f**k you.”‘
    What @JCF said: “But really, hang in there. It will get better. No one can promise a certain time when it will for your kid, but one day you’ll look back on it and feel like the lack of sleep was a blink in time. I promise.”
    What @BiteSizeTherapy said: “Thanks to Moxie for telling it like it is. I have found that most people sentimentalize parenting, and de-emphasize the challenges. It is like they are either: a) afraid to tell you or, b) in denial themselves.”
    What helped me? Babysitters – who could handle a screaming kid while we are leaving the house. Letting the housework go. I stopped unconsciously comparing. Finally figuring out that the uber-religious mom of 4 I know who loves every blessed minute of her precious homeschooled, organically-fed babes’ lives just ain’t me, and it’s ok!! I stopped letting people I don’t even know try to put their superwoman shit on me. I figured out my own personal “bare minimum” stuff that I absolutely need to be happy regardless of the ages and phases of my kids – for me that equals 1) looking clean and presentable by 10am every day and 2) having half an hour a day to watch TV and veg out. And I prioritized my marriage, which almost fell apart due to the stress and lack of sleep having a second child brought. Marriage counseling worked for us. Hugs to you. Take lots of pictures. Both the good and the bad news is exactly the same: they grow up so fast.

  56. I’m so thankful that you posted this because I’ve been feeling the same way about my 9mo. I love him beyond anything, but the lack of sleep and the constant needing is wearing me down. We’ve found things that work for us and that help, but it’s still much more than I’ve ever dealt with before. I’m thankful we’re only planning on having one child, because I honestly couldn’t go through this a second time. It’s heartening to hear that it gets better.

  57. Wow. A year ago, this poster was me — many of you gave me good supportive thoughts about how “it gets better” and “hang in there.”And now, with an almost-24-month-old, it’s my turn to assure you that YES it gets better. My darling daughter was the world’s.worst.sleeper for the first 12 months of her life – never napped more than 40 minutes, rarely slept more than 2 hrs straight at night. I lost 30 pounds walking around the house with her in my baby-carrier and bouncing her to get her to drift off. I sleepwalked through my job, and almost had my marriage fall apart.
    And now? She’s the world’s coolest kid (yes, I’m biased). She talks and runs and plays let’s pretend and — gasp! — reads her own books next to me in bed while I read the New Yorker. It’s *awesome*. Yes, it’s challenging at times, and I hate whining. But I’d take just about anything over sleep-deprivation-and-inexplicable-screaming. It has gotten so much better, in fact, that we are trying for a 2nd. (Yes, I’m insane, I know that. But next time I’m going on Zoloft.)
    My point being, hang in there, take care of yourself & your marriage, and know that no matter what you do or don’t do, your baby will be okay (and will, eventually, sleep).
    Good luck and give yourself a hug!

  58. I am in the ‘my kid was a better baby than toddler’ camp. Well, No. 2 anyway. No. 1 was just a plain freak of nature and the easiest baby and toddler and at 5y10m still is. Oh how I hated No. 2’s second (and third)year(s). At 20 monhts, she went from sleeping 12 hour nights withouth a peep to multiple wakings until she was 3. And then we had a glitch for a few months around 3.25. I don’t even know if I can safely say we are out of the woods at almost 4.But wow, it is so great having big kids. Except for the greco-roman wrestling that I have to sit through for hours at a time. But that is a subject for another post, hey Moxie?

  59. When my eldest was one, I was fantasizing for hours every day about running away and leaving his father to deal with him. There’s a surprising number of details to consider… would I take the dog, or no? Would I need to set up some big distraction before leaving, so my tracks could not be followed? Would I fake my own death, or file for divorce?At about 25 months, I weaned him, and suddenly my depression (that I hadn’t recognized as such) lifted. Child #2 (conceived shortly thereafter) has been much easier (younger is now 14 months).
    Insight #1: The child’s temperament makes a huge difference.
    Insight #2: Pervasive loss of hope can be a symptom or depression even if you are active, effective and non-suicidal.
    Insight #3: Food issues have a ripple effect on everything else; until the kid has the teeth and coordination to feed himself, the parent will feel starved (maybe of time) and stressed.

  60. What Moxie said. Exactly.I also think when you’re a first time mom you worry that you’re doing everything wrong, or that it’s your fault that they don’t sleep, eat, poop, talk, stand, walk, whatever like they “should”…. I’m finding that making it through the baby phase is easier with my second because I just know it will all work out and I’m not all frazzled with guilt and “what if I’m doing it wrong” thoughts in my head.
    It does get easier. And then harder again. but a different kind of hard. That I think is easier. The baby phase is so not my favorite. But for some reason I did it again and now I have a 4 and 1 year old and I can see the light at the end of hte baby tunnel. Not enough to do it again. but enought to keep waking up every day.
    Hang in there! seriously. You’re not alone. I bet if you asked your friends to really tell you the truth you’d find out they all (most anyway) felt like you.

  61. What I discovered when DD was a baby: God makes them cute for a reason. Otherwise, we’d just lock them in a closet and leave them there.I HATED the baby stage. I am an off-the-chart Type A control freak person. Used to run a huge business. Managed hundreds of employees. Have a freakin Masters degree. Couldn’t handle one little baby! Made me crazy. Yes, I would have given my life for her, but still…running away to the beach looked good too.
    It really does get better. But not all of a sudden. It sneaks up on you. You realize “oh, she hasn’t been screaming as much as she used to” or “wow, getting her down for a nap has been easier” or “I’ve taken a shower 3 days in a row now”
    So, try to lighten up. (And trust me, I know how hard that is) If you are both alive at the end of the day, that is a success.
    P.S. It really does get better!

  62. Know too that different people have different weak points. I am easily annoyed by a child who wants to be in physical contact with me all the time. I’m perfectly happy doing something else in the room with a toddler who’s talking constantly, and can converse or let him chatter as the mood requires.My husband got more stressed out when the child started talking; he complained that he couldn’t think in the child’s presence, whereas supervising a non-verbal baby left his mental energy free. The pattern seems to be holding true for the second child, who isn’t yet verbal.

  63. It’s uncanny how every Ask Moxie post over the past 4.5 years of my daughter’s life has been JUST what I needed to hear at JUST the right time. I’d like to thank Moxie and all of you Moxie-ites for being so generous with your thoughts, words, and experience.My daughter–at 4.5–is now a continual delight, and that’s even when she’s being a huge pain. I think I’ve learned to enjoy so much of her now, when– for a long time– I wondered what had I done to both my child/my life.
    I love the kind, thoughtful person she’s become. I love that she’s in school 3x/week, and I have some time for other things. I love that I am privy to her experience of the world.
    Please OP, find what you can do that works for you (a babysitter, mom’s group, gym w/ drop-off, less-trying to be all the things you think you should be, a little booze, or maybe some combination of all of these)and don’t think it’s forever. I must be aging at much slower rate than my daughter, as it can’t really be going on 5 years now, since she was born, can it?!
    I, too, wondered at all the people adoring my baby while I felt drained of so much of what I once knew/thought I was/or might be able to make possible. We’re now expecting #2 in just a few short months, and I’m banking on perspective for sanity in those first years.
    Warm wishes to all!

  64. Another vote for going with the flow and not trying too hard.”Troubleshooting” and “trying to patch up sleep snafus” are concepts that aren’t part of my active vocabulary because my first daughter, now 5.5, raised us to not expect any predictable sleeping patterns. She gets by on very little sleep and requires lots and lots of intellectual stimulation; what she hasn’t learned yet is how to entertain herself. Our second daughter, now 1.25, has always wanted to be in bed at a certain time in the evening, so the two kids clearly have very different needs. It helps that my partner and I co-parent fully, so we each handle one child at bedtime. We co-sleep, which makes my job with the baby very easy–when she wakes up, I roll over and nurse her back to sleep.
    My partner’s job with the 5.5yo is MUCH harder; she takes a long time to unwind in the evening, and while it would be tempting to just close the door on her to let her run out of steam on her own, both my partner and I feel that a) she wouldn’t in fact run out of steam, b) she would have to be physically locked into her room, which is a level of coercion both of us consider completely out of the question; and c) her trust in us would be utterly undermined.
    We haven’t had our evenings to ourselves for 5 years and expect the situation to last several more years. OTOH, we have amazing conversations and lots of fun reading together, making up stories, etc.
    However, given our way of parenting, it’s pretty clear that we wouldn’t be able to handle more than two.

  65. I agree with all these comments.Just to add some very practical things that helped me create some space, both mental and physical:
    I found “This too will change” a more helpful motto than “It will get better.” It just felt more realistic. I could actually believe that. I saw no sign of the ‘getting better’ so it just made me feel frustrated.
    I gave myself a mental break by telling myself that I was in this parenting-gig for the long haul. If I need to go to family therapy with my 35-year old because I was parenting “wrongly” now, then so be it. For now, we just needed to get through the day. I’m not sure if this sounds really negative, but it helped me to let go a bit.
    I started a blog and just tried to take note of the things that I absolutely knew would change: a picture of the diapers and wipes in my bag, teeny-tiny socks hanging on the washing line, the car seat, the crib, toys that I liked, the pacifier in the cutlery drawer etc, the dawn … oh, the pictures of the dawns, and the streetlights, and the empty street in the nighttime darkness.
    I got an ipod! The night-time rocking and feeding and the day-time walks were sooooooo much better when I had a book on tape to listen to.
    I always had a book with me, so that if the baby did randomly decide to fall asleep, I could just go with it. I kept a book in the diaper bag, in the stoller and in the car. And I tried to take the Ipod too.
    I went to baby and me yoga classes. Yoga was new to me, and I tried to think of it as an added bonus if I managed a pose or 2.
    I gave the baby to my husband and went out. (I was an unexpected control freak, who wasn’t able to turn off unless I just left the house.)
    I went EVERY week to a New Parent Support group, and then summoned up the courage to ask people to go and get a coffee afterwards. And from those beginnings, 5 years later, our babysitting co-op is still going strong.
    We got a house-cleaner, and I tried to lower my standards, but my husband worked on the areas that I could see when I was breast-feeding.
    My children are nearly 5, and 2 now. It is still challenging, but it is better. Our lives have been remolded so that I am less isolated. And when they aren’t making me frustrated and angry, the children really do make me laugh and smile, and melt my heart.
    And my photos now include superman underwear on the washing line, and a lightsaber standing in the kitchen cupboard with the olive oil, and 4 sets of shoes in the hall–2 grown-up and 2 kids shoes, and yellow ducks in the bathroom next to strawberry-flavoured toothpaste.

  66. This is an awesome post + comments and I am bookmarking for my next year.To the original commenter – I found things improved starting around 2.5. I really, really, really did not love the baby and toddler stages. I can handle the defiance and weirdness of the preschooler much better, by personality. Other people I know are different. The MAIN thing I have learned is – you do not have to be the best parent at each stage, you just have to be adequate to get to the stages you will rock at.
    No one believes that the first year with their first, I don’t think, but it is TRUE.
    Here is what helped me:
    My son’s sleep went to pieces (from a precarious bit) around 1 year to nearly 18 months. My husband was, at the time, embroiled in work to the point that he couldn’t help. I was working PT from home, hoping to do that at night. It was pretty awful.
    I learned to bundle him up and take him outside. (Stroller or Ergo.) In the night. In the night air. With everyone on the block judging me. At least those who were up at 2 am (for the night wakings) or on their porches at 7 pm (for the going to sleep).
    This didn’t help him AT ALL. It helped me. I would breathe in and look at the
    stars and somehow it helped me learn to self-soothe.
    Later I switched up this routine to rocking in the rocking chair with my favourite music on. With a book. For me. That he would bat at occasionally.
    In other words: I focused on what would help ME. I realize this is entirely backwards as per 124312354 baby sleep books. It didn’t matter at that point. Everyone’s sleep gradually improved. But what was more was that my relationship to my kid improved because he was not the ball and chain keeping me in the hallway, if that makes sense?
    He sleeps fine now (5 years old) and I could not be happier to be his mom. In fact I’m due with another. I intend to focus way less on sleep. I’m not going to ignore it; I totally believe in Sleepless in America.
    But I don’t intend to take the fall for whatever sleep patterns my child has. There are families, mostly on SuperNanny, who need help prioritizing sleep or tweaking their routines. With the perspective of 5 years, I have realized that we needed to go the other way.
    I’m not suggesting this as a technique, more as a story from which you might find your own unique balance. Hang in there. It gets better.

  67. What a wonderful discussion of the early years! I have a 23 month old who has been a horrible sleeper for pretty much 95% of his life. We have had maybe 5 nights where he has slept from 8:30 until 6:00. On most of the other nights he wakes every three hours or so. A five hour stretch feels like a moment of greatness. In his infancy he nursed every 2 hours for about the first 3 months of his life. Up until 2 weeks ago, he had to nap either driving in the car or being held by myself or my husband.We have tried everything. Ferber, old fashioned cry it out, co-sleep, you name the tactic, we have tried it. Letting him cry never worked. I remember one specific night where he cried from 1:00 – 5:00 am straight because we were trying so desparately to sleepy train him. The end result was an exhausted baby and mama and daddy. The last time we tried letting him cry he taught himself how to crawl out of his crib, so that felt like a major parenting fail. 🙂 I joke that I haven’t had a good night sleep since 2008!
    That being said, I know that the young years are so small and fleeting that I actively try to appreciate everything, even the late night drama. When my little guy just says hi mama! or I love you mama! or gives our dogs kisses he melts my heart. In the end you have to trust your gut because you know what works best for your own kiddo. What works for one family may not work for you. Trust your instincts and don’t look back.
    Finally, my grandma gave me some seriously good advice when I was in my darkest period of sleep deprivation around 8 months. I was going on and on that my son would only sleep being held in my arms and often had to be nursed to sleep and what she told me was “Just enjoy the cuddles” because it will go so fast. Honestly, that was the best advice anyone ever gave me.

  68. Not to be Debbie Downer here, but although I agree that parenting babies and toddlers is hard (oh, do I agree, as my 9-month-old continues to think that sleeping through the night is for losers), I’m hearing some levels of sadness and frustration in some of the posts that makes me want to suggest talking to someone professional about it. These years are hard, and good heavens the days are long, but if on balance you feel like most of the days are bad ones and you’re no longer interested in making the effort to do things that once brought you joy (like decorating for Christmas), take a step back. Ask yourself if you think, given the situation, that you are more down than you think you should be.I’m certainly not trying to say that if you don’t experience parenting the little guys as all sweetness and light you’re clinically depressed. But there are ways of coping with the relentlessness of it, and the high expectations that many of us types who frequent this site have for ourselves, that might make more of the days good ones, and for some of us that helps a lot. I talk to a lovely, pragmatic social worker once every year or so when I’m feeling like things are heading downhill mentally, and for me that’s enough to snap out of it. At other times in my life it hasn’t been and drugs have been a great help. Hugs to you all.

  69. @Chiara, thank you sooo much for your comment. I, too, am about to quit a job I was very good at to stay home with my now 10-week old, and there are days when I’m terrified I’m making a mistake because this is just so hard. Then I remember how much I dislike my job and how bored I always am at work, and I realize that, for me, being a SAHM is likely to suck the least. Sad, but true.I had a journalism professor once who gave his students advice about being a reporter that is still some of the best advice I’ve ever heard, and applies to parenting as well. You don’t have to love it, you just have to love one thing about it. You can dislike everything else, but as long as there’s one thing you love, then it’s a job you can do.

  70. OMG thank you for posting this. I’m at the 10 month stage and the Hh isn’t predictable worth a damn. She lately has beeing going through the stage where she just keeps grunting unhappily at everything. Add to this that she refused to take a nap and decided today was also a no eating day. Finally I just yelled at her “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?????” Then felt horribly guilty and explained sarcastically that mommy would not be in such a bad mood had Hh slept more than 3 hrs in a row last night. Then I cried because I yelled at my kid. I felt like I had wasted my mat leave trying to get baby to sleep and I was convinced every other mom on the block was having a grand old time on mat leave just like I imagined when I was pregnant, because their kids all slept through the night, took perfect naps, and ate solids like champs. Hell some of them were taking exotic vacations (Mexico! Hawaii! Europe!) and back to normal going out with friends and having date nights while I was sitting around with a baby who was always cranky all the time counting down the hours until my workaholic husband came home.Your post and the responses have given me hope. And I’m going to look into getting a baby sitter to get some “me” time back.

  71. @Minty, could it be that your child is a bit more spirited than those of your friends? First, stop comparing yourself to them. You don’t know what is really going on in their lives, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because they aren’t raising the same baby you are. Then check out “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The tips are more for older kids, but reading it might help you feel less like a failure! (And if it doesn’t, stop reading it.) I read it when my daughter was about 2, and so many things just clicked for me.My first isn’t truly “spirited” by the book’s definition, but is definitely close. She certainly has more energy than a lot of other kids. The sleep hell that was her at 6-10 months old just about broke me, and then getting her transitioned from bottles to sippy cups and to eating finger foods was almost the end of me (we needed to do this for her to move up to the “older babies” room at day care, which was clearly a good move overall for her). Now she’s 3.5 and I can better understand the personality traits that were manifesting themselves when she was a baby. She is now delightful, but still a handful. However, she sleeps through the night most nights. She’s a picky eater, but she eats. We have some solid techniques for preventing meltdowns. Things definitely got easier.
    Are you doing the night shift all by yourself? If you are, maybe you could try to change that? I never solved my daughter’s sleep “issues”- she just started sleeping through on her own when she was about 2. But we did nightwean with some luck at about 11 months, getting her down from 5 wakings to 1-2 per night. And really, the thing that helped most was to stop thinking of it as her problem. She was fine. I was the one with the problem. So my husband and I turned our problem-solving efforts around, and worked out a system that got us both enough sleep to stay sane.
    Ignore any of the above that doesn’t help. Just cut yourself a little slack- you are doing a great job. Even my “good” sleeping 2nd baby’s naps went all haywire at about 9 months. There is just a lot going on. Don’t let it make you feel like a bad mom!

  72. I feel ya peeps. I have two boys, 2 1/2 and 13 months. I HATE the baby years. Really until they hit 2 it’s just so exhausting. Toddlers are exhausting too but in a totally different way that I can totally handle. Like everyone has said, they tell you what’s wrong, you can reason with them more, they start to sleep better (even if it’s still in your bed), they can watch movies with you and make cookies and read books. Still a bit mind-numbing to play trains for 3 hrs straight but nothing like the constant meltdowns and “hold-me’s” of babydom. Just push through, my friend.My second was easier b/c I knew more about who I was as a parent so I didn’t waste time with whether I was going to “allow” babies in my bed or pacifiers, or what to do if they don’t eat enough veggies, but more difficult b/c 2 children take up more time. Won’t be having a third. I want to enjoy the two I have 🙂

  73. @Hanginginthere 10:50 AM, you sound so much like I felt for the first year of my daughter’s life.You are not a terrible mother for not enjoying this time. In fact, you may not enjoy it for a year or two more, BUT, the time between now and when your child starts school and/or you decide to go back into the work force (if you do) is small in the grand scheme of life (even if it doesn’t feel that way while you are trudging through the drudgery of diapers, laundry and mind numbing sleep deprivation).
    Anyway, I guess I’m saying all this because it did get better for me, even enough to do it all over again 4 years later. But I also found that I didn’t love having tiny babies and I needed help along the way. It didn’t make me a bad mother and it doesn’t make you one either.

  74. My daughter is 8.5 months old and in the midst of a sleep “regression” lasting 2.5 months. She has never been a good sleeper, so “regression” is a relative term… It is so refreshing to hear that it is OK to feel like parenting an infant sucks way more than it doesn’t. I lived through the first 3 months feeling like a total degenerate (I’m sure the PPD didn’t help) that this whole experience didn’t open me up into a more joyful existence and instead made me feel like disappearing into a dark cave somewhere. Most other mothers I encountered in the process would wax poetic about the soft dewy skin of a newborn, how tiny and precious they are, etc. I really thought I was missing something. But as I have let go of the fact that I didn’t get the baby I ordered (one who slept, was super flexible, loved travel, cooed at me from whatever device she was strapped into while I worked from home on my computer), I have really started to appreciate that it is getting better. I no longer take her nap refusals and night wakings as a personal attack and that has really helped. I guess that I’m slowly gaining the perspective that these days are finite and it has done wonders for me.

  75. Oh, dear. I’m so, so sorry that you’re going through this. Babies ARE hard and one issue is, as you noted, that as a first time parent it’s impossible to have perspective. How could you? You’ve never done this before!And I admit that I find even sweet, even tempered babies (like my 3rd who is 11 months) really boring. Add in some fussiness and/or sleep issues? Ouch.
    It does get better. But it’s hard to know when that will be. My advice? If you can in any way swing it, get some help. Paid help if you can afford it. Or grandparent help or a babysitting trade or daycare at the gym. I see so many 1st time moms who are DYING and are very resistant to help. Even an hour or two here or there will make a huge difference in your frame of mind.
    And things will get better! With my 1st I thought once she could walk and was down to 1 nap, maybe 15 mos, and we could do playmates and the zoo, that was a real landmark.

  76. My son is turning three soon and I think that I’ve really LOVED motherhood only in the past few months. I make no apologies for disliking babyhood and early toddlerhood. But now, with his increasing verbal skills and quirky charms? I can’t help but enjoy myself and so very much look forward to the years ahead. It does get better, but that point in time seems to be different for everyone.

  77. My son had colic. There were some very, very tough days in those first three months. Lingering residue of colic: he was never an enthusiastic napper. I, of course, became obsessed with naps. Oh, and I started a PhD program in applied economics when he was 6 months old. Brilliant.When he was 9 months old, during the winter break from my PhD program, I got sicker than I’ve ever been in my life: in bed, fever & flu for 10 days. But I kept up the nursing, the pumping, the obsessing over sleep and I continued to cling to the high stakes mentality that I had to do everything perfectly or I was a horrible mom. That first year was H-A-R-D. And I had full time daycare for half of it!
    Fast forward. He’s now 3.75 and a funny, sweet, imaginative kid who is a ton of fun to be around. I’m pregnant with number 2 and there are a few things I plan on differently this time around; number one on the list? Cut myself way more slack than I did the first time around. As others have said, once you’re out of the first year/first 18 months with the first kid, you realize how hard you were on yourself and how seriously you took things that you might’ve let go.
    Others have said this, but I’ll just add to the chorus: take care of yourself first. It’s like putting your oxygen mask on before helping your child. Get some childcare, get some support (where ever you can find it– family may not be the best place), if necessary get some therapy (helped me a ton!). The baby will be fine, truly. The people who try to convince you that every little thing you do right now is critical to him becoming a compassionate, high achieving, Harvard bound, athletic, musical future lawyer/doctor/stock broker with a lower than average risk of cancer are usually just trying to sell you some book or products. Leaving him with your parents for a three day weekend, sending him to day care part time, reclaiming some things for you and your spouse– none of that will derail him from greatness if that is where he is headed. Do whatever you can to cope until it gets easier– and it will eventually.

  78. I haven’t read any comments but I will come back later and do that… interested in what people have to say and hopefully to see that there are many of us with the same desperate need for things to turn a corner.I have a 10 month old and a 3.5 year old and I am having a very rough day/week/month/year/whattheheck3years with both of them. Just when things started to get better with my then 2 year old, I went and effed it all up by having another baby who would be teething/not sleeping/having separation anxiety/getting sick all the freaking time right at the exact time my older child is the dreaded age of 3.5.
    I know it will get better. Still waiting, hanging on!
    Will read above comments later.

  79. Yes, the baby/early toddler stages are sometimes fun and a lot of times stressful, exhausting, and overwhelming. With our second, now 2 (doesn’t sleep through the night about 50% of the time) we started to accept that sleep was not happening. We also learned to let go and stop trying so hard to “do the right things.” Turns out we are enjoying her tremendously–most of the time. That being said, we won’t be having any more babies! It is normal to feel like you are losing it and can’t stay ahead, but it really is hardest during the first 18 months. The only thing consistent during that time is change. My best advice is to find a sleep strategy that you can live with and be consistent with that. Ours is that my husband gets up during the night most of the time since he can easily go back to sleep and we use Super Nanny sleep techniques since they are easiest and feel the least harsh and actually work well for my kids. We also try to go with the flow on a lot of things (she still has a bottle–dentists are screaming but we aren’t).

  80. This is the best post I’ve read about parenting in a while. Thanks.To the woman with the question – it gets better. Just think, most people have more than one kid, and birth control is an option, now.
    My son didn’t sleep through the night until 17 months. I just weaned off of my PPD meds at 20mo. She should look into it. Lack of sleep can change your hormones causing depression. Zoloft changed my life. 🙂

  81. I totally bought into the whole “babies are pure joy” bullshit, until baby was born and we didn’t sleep for 4 DAYS STRAIGHT and the people in the painting on the hospital wall bean to walk around the picture at 4 in the morning. I mean, I saw them prancing along the pier. It was crazy.Ever since then, getting baby to sleep–or, more accurately, me getting enough sleep–is a battle I fight each and every day. It’s wearing me down. It’s truly, truly making me crazy in some basic part of my brain. When moms get together, all I want to talk about is sleep, in the hopes of finding a bosom buddy out there who is up 3 X a night with a 13-month-old.
    And the guilt! I feel awful that I get mad. That I swear when she pops up after a 5-minute nap. That I punch the pillow every once in a while when she’s been up from 2 to 5 a.m. just tossing and turning and pulling my hair. I so never, never want to do this again–and I feel guilty for planning to deprive her of a sibling.
    But she’s so happy when she’s awake, and so scarily smart, and social, and I take a minute every day to count my blessings and pray that I exhibit enough patience and guidance in those tough moments to make her feel loved and safe.
    But whoever said babies sleep like babies should be shot.

  82. This is just about exactly what I needed right now.One of the things that has gotten me through the first year w/ 2 children (now 3 and 1) was having a friend who was honest about how horribly difficult it was for her for the first year and a half or more with her second.
    I haven’t slept in the same bed with my husband, let alone slept with my husband in the other sense… in some ridiculous amount of time because we have no evenings. Right now he’s paying bills on no energy while I shurk doing the dishes because I’m going to have to run back up to our 54-week-old can’t fall asleep without my boob can’t be moved to the crib can’t stay asleep for very long beloved darling. We have no life after dinner, and by dinner we are exhausted. Our pumpkins are extremely physical, extremely daring, extremely wonderful but this is so bloody hard. I’m so so tired, and feel like I get no validation or understanding for that anywhere… except from my honest friend and here. I feel like I’ve ducked my head and I’m waiting for the air to clear- and in the meantime I have no idea what’s going on outside of my little tiny trench. The weird thing is being afraid I’ll miss have little babies- ie they’ll be big and I won’t have even noticed it happening. That’s weird.

  83. Cloud, I just wanted to add that I did the same–pushed baby around the park, every day, in tears because I was a failure at getting her to sleep any other way. But now she can fall asleep on our bed with me or hubby next to her, and we can ever transfer her to her crib. Small progresses, which I hope bode well for more to come…

  84. Thank you so much everyone for the wonderful posts. I think part of the problem is the relentless pressure on us as mothers in this society. I remember when my older son was born, I was absolutely shocked at how much things have NOT changed for us as women in this country. No matter who I was before kids, people seemed to assume that all of that was erased when I became a mom – that nothing compared to it and my life and accomplishments before did not matter. Also I think that people lie – and lie a lot – about motherhood and how incredibly hard it is. On some level we feel that if we complain at all, it implies we don’t love our kids. I love my boys (6 and 3) with all my heart, but I don’t always love taking care of them. It is hard hard work a lot of the time. My boys are starting now to play together. Yesterday I sat on the couch for ten minutes and read a book. It was almost unfathomable. The younger one is in a very tiring, reckless, aggressive stage, but I finally feel that in about a year, it will get dramatically easier, as I see the older one becoming more and more able to do things for himself.

  85. Thanks, @Tina- that was my first baby, who is now 3.5 years old and falls asleep on her own after a short (~15 min) bedtime routine. So yes, there is hope! (She never did go down for a nap easily at home, though, and now only naps at day care. But I’ve stopped caring.)Also, I am currently waking up between 1 and 3 times a night with my 13 month old, just like you are! Funny thing is, I think that is GOOD, because her older sister was so much worse and made us work to get to the point where she only woke up 3x/night! (We had to nightwean, and that involved my husband spending large chunks of time holding her in the middle of the night.)
    But even if I think my current set up isn’t so bad, some mornings I’m so tired that I can barely think straight. But this time, I know that it gets better even if I don’t find the magic sleep solution (I never did). And somehow, that makes it more tolerable. Also, I caved and started co-sleeping much earlier, and that makes things easier for us so that I manage to get enough sleep to function.

  86. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been feeling very down lately about parenting my 14 month old daughter who has never napped well and is a very fussy eater and I just can’t seem to let it go! I’ve researched every issue to death and I still keep searching for that magic fix even though I rationally know there is no such thing. The mothers in my mothers’ group all have babies who take long and regular naps and sleep at night and wolf down 3 meals a day so I often leave our get togethers feeling worse than ever. I’m embarrassed about how difficult I’m finding parenthood and am seriously thinking about whether I have the courage, energy and confidence to have a second child. However, Moxie and this community and some other blogs I follow really have helped me more than anything. Cheers everyone!

  87. I enjoyed babyhood (barring the lack of sleep) but am being kicked HARD in the backside with DS in the 3.5 stage coupled with DD at 8 months old. I love them both with every fibre of my being but it’s getting the better of me.I feel I’ve become a mean Mum to my DS and, while I’d never do it, I have fantasies of running away and back to a life where the only decisions I made affected me rather than three other people. I can’t stand who I’m becoming and don’t want my children to hate me… I’m so tired of trying to be all to everyone and not pleasing everyone and, while I can intellectualize that I am talking to a petulant and somewhat jealous three year old, the new attitude and limit testing is doing my head in…

  88. To add to my post, my DS and I were really, really close until DD arrived. I think that might be why it’s all so darn difficult. He’s very good with his baby sister but I am being severely punished. He gets very sad (which breaks my heart) and angry (with me in particular) and it’s all turned into a complete schmozzle.

  89. My perspective comes from occasional babysitting – some of it where I turf Moo to my parents & oddly enough, when I babysit for my cousins 4 & 6 year olds. It was FUN last week – they entertained my 10 month old and played pretty happily. Sure, I had to manage a meltdown by the uber competitive 6 yr old when she lost at UNO and the 4 yr old wanted to blow bubbles into the baby’s face… And I was WIPED at the end of the day – but overall, it was fun.Also – I’ve found a day spa/ beauty salon with a crèche! I haven’t been yet, but just the thought cheers me up.

  90. It’s all been said, but I too had the wakeful, bottle-refusing, adorable and yet strikingly boring and strongwilled baby. It was so hard. I knew I wasn’t cut out for it from the beginning, and was delighted to go back to work at 6 months. Loved her with all my heart the whole time, cooed over and cuddled her but so. much. work. and stress.6 year olds are fun on the other hand – they have interesting things to talk about and they can be reasoned with and understand not getting their way all the time. But for me it got better with every step toward independence – walking, talking, weaning, potty training, all of them make my life so much easier and more fun!
    Hang in there with the babies. They get cuter and more interesting with every passing month! (OK some months just suck but the trend holds in aggregate.)

  91. ACJ, right on! My theory on mealtime for example is: as long as they don’t starve, the goal is that *I* enjoy the meal. My god how much my life improved when I decided to do that. And guess what, my kids haven’t died yet.

  92. I love this community.My sanity began to restore when I found ask moxie and ditched the sleep books. I, too, was a research-solve-the-problem mom. When I stopped trying to solve, and started trying to take this little maddening being on her own terms, things were so much better.
    My child still didn’t sleep, but at least I was not guilt ridden and feeling like a failure.

  93. “it gets better.” yes and no. at least not in some linear way.i have an 3.5yo and a 16mo. i find every damn day a never-ending barrage of work, food, mess and poop. the 3.5yo is full-on in the, ahem, “jackass” stage. and makes me want to run away from home. the 16mo is in separation anxiety and getting molars. yeah. i’m in a wicked double-whammy phase right now…
    but then the 3.5yo says “mama, i want to make you happy” and comes over to give me the sweetest hug. and that makes my day. then the 16mo says “more milk” instead of screaming. and that makes my day.
    **your current battles will find resolution.** but then new ones will crop up. and it’ll go like that for a while. but with each day they get better at *something* and that one development will make your life easier in some way. (i’m SOOO thrilled she can ask for milk now!!)

  94. @BiteSizeTherapy, I had tears in my eyes reading that article. So true. You never forget that crying. I felt like DS went through a 2nd colic period at 18 months when he was so frustrated by not being able to talk that he cried all the time. Even now when he begins to cry I have a moment of sweating and panic. I don’t think it will ever go away.I wanted to add that I agree with the recommendation for the book, “Raising Your Spirited Child.” I’ve read it 3 times now. It has helped SO much. I think it would help anyone with a strong willed, non angel, baby.

  95. Many have said it already but I feel compelled to add that I am so thankful for Moxie & her readers. I even told my husband this morning that he should find a way to send you all flowers, because I would be so much more insane were it not for you.This post and these comments have helped so much during a rough time (why do sleep regressions, colds and teething have to happen all at once?!). Reading stories of how things were hard for you all and then how they changed gives me hope, even though I know that it will get better, then worse, and then different altogether.
    You know what I would love to see? Updates from the authors of the posts that I read over and over again. I would love to know how things turned out for Samantha of “Samantha needs some hugs” fame, Stacy from “Going insane from lack of sleep”, or ValleyGal from “11 week old and self-soothing”. I’m sure there are more, and will be more as my son ages, but it would be so neat to know how things turned out for them not months later but YEARS later.
    But again, I am seriously thankful for all of you, for being as intelligent, pragmatic, intersting and funny as you are.

  96. @ Cloud – YES to the pushing the baby around the neighborhood to get him to nap and crying. Actually, this is around the time I finally *stopped* crying about his lack of napping, because even though it was annoying, it worked. I could bring him into the house (after he fell asleep – and sometimes he would scream for 20 minutes first as I walked him) and he would sleep sometimes 1.5 hrs! It felt like a miracle and we were both *so much happier*. And he too sleeps beautifully, in his own crib. So when I had #2 the first thing I said to myself was – I do not care how this baby sleeps as long as we’re all happy! We’re not all happy but I’m much less woman-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown about it all, because I know it all works out. Same with potty training, getting rid of pacis, etc etc.

  97. It doesn’t sound like there are many parents of pre-schoolers here, but I’m going to go ahead and say that for me babyhood was OK. In spite of reverse cycling until weaning at 23 months, not taking a bottle (with mommy working FT and pumping maybe 4 oz a day TOTAL), later only brief periods of sleeping through the night (now at 4.5 gets up to pee and sleep in our bed or have someone sleep with her), blahblahblah, babyhood was good for us, I have nice memories and am almost ready to do it again.My experience is that FOUR IS HARD. Not just “4.5” or whatever, this entire year has been really difficult. I struggle with anger, yelling, positive discipline, hating working FT (I used to a little tiny bit judgy with new moms that were all “I hate being away from my baby”- now that’s me), etc. and that’s just my list of issues!
    So, anyway, love the discussion and want to add my 2 cents. . .

  98. Agree with OP and everyone else – I am now at the one-year mark with #2 and, although I have learned a lot and am finding things easier/better the second time around, it is still a slog much of the time. I adore my boys, but I feel like my “real” life is completely on pause right now.Anyway, here is what helped make me a slightly more sane mom:
    1) Knowing that if things are really hard at the beginning, they can ONLY get better. In retrospect, I’m actually grateful that my first baby was so colicky and impossible. He’s six and a half now, and every single day he continues to become a more amazing and enjoyable kid. My friends who had “perfect” or “easy” babies inevitably hit a really hard stage, and were sort of blind-sided by the whole experience. For me, NO stage was as difficult as the baby stage, so my confidence and happiness as a parent just continues to grow.
    2) I have developed a personal mantra, and I use it every day: I’m doing the best I can. It’s not the end of the world. BTW, I came up with this last month, so obviously things can still be challenging after 6+ years of parenting! 🙂

  99. I am blessed that this post exists during this time with my 11 month old son!I am not close to anyone with a baby. Some friends are pregnant, and I just smile and say, “Enjoy your pregnancy! You’ll be a wonderful mama!”
    My cousin has a baby- but we are so different as are our babies. I’m afraid to say that I can’t talk to her about my son’s constant nightwaking, willfulness, and hardcore seperation anxiety. Her method is to let em’ scream, and it has worked for her. I can’t hear that though. The sound of a baby screaming drives me to panic attacks.
    Anyway, I get bored and frustrated and get the runaway blues too. I also get blue when I realize my son will not be a baby soon. I have a very naive memory. I tend to blank out the black days and nuzzle in the memory of all the sweet days.
    I have read one sleep book, No Cry Sleep Solution, but never kept logs. The OP- you are a dedicated, hardworking mom. There’s a lot of us in the boat with ya sister!
    I told my mom that lil’ one still does not sleep well. She said, yes, it is very hard to be mama. That’s the damn truth.

  100. Yes, yes, yes. And THANK YOU. To Moxie and all the wonderful commenters. I could have written many of your comments myself. As a FTM to a 7 month old baby girl, I’m right in the thick of it all. Bookmarking this page to reread on the dark days.

  101. I just stumbled this page looking for something completely different, and man a higher power must have know I needed to hear all this (and I am not a religious person). I am as I type with head phones in with blaring music (which I don’t even like, but it is loud) to block out my 2 year old and 6 month old. I have snapped and cannot take the sleep issues anymore. it is good to know I am not the only one that hates this age! It is nice to know and I have something to look forward too. Now, to get thru tonight.

  102. Better, worse, better, worse, sleep, behaviour… I’m having a rough time with a 3.5 year old at the moment so I think it’s all just ages and stages until at least 4 (maybe 5 with boys). I’m really (REALLLLLLYY) hoping that this current phase is to do with the 4yo testosterone surge but currently I’m finding life a continual battle, with the odd lovely afternoon thrown in to make you feel like it will eventually get better. Please may it get better.

  103. @Hbomb, I hear you. 4 was hard for us too, same reasons you list (except I’m at home.)5 is turning out to be hard too, so I feel like a downer or like I’m doing something wrong w/everyone saying how great 5 is. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an amazing kid. He’s just so sensitive & intense, and kindergarten has been a big adjustment.
    We’re currently trying to problem solve around a playground incident which he kept to himself for over 2 weeks while acting out like crazy at home. We’re worried, exhausted, and demoralized. We’ve got the school counselor involved, my husband & I are already in therapy, and we’re trying to find a child/family psych to help him & help us. how do we find the time & money for this?
    on top of that, my judgemental mother who is currently getting sick & exhausted staying with my overachiever younger sister & family is due to come here for Christmas.
    I hope things improve for the OP, and I also wanted to share my difficulties in case someone else is having a hard time.

  104. @Lisa F. – I found age 5/kindergarten hard with my DS. They still need you yet are now being more independent. Plus don’t underestimate the huge amount of social learning they have to do on the playground – suddenly they’re in a large crowd of other kids of varying degrees of maturity. I found both KG and 1st grade to be a big social struggle for my kid – and led to mucho acting out at home. I found that for us, we had to back off a lot at home and allow more leeway with behavior issues. They need some place to feel safe/secure after dealing with all the new rules all day.I hope this helps somehow. Just wanted you to know you’re now alone.

  105. @Lisa F. big hugs and support to you. I probably didn’t get this across in my comment but I really think which periods are ‘easier’ and which are ‘harder’ are sooooo dependent on the child, parent, personalities, and in your case obviously circumstances beyond your family’s control.So my summary would be ‘it gets better, but when is really individual.’

  106. Thanks for this! I also am not a “baby” person. I loved my kids when they were babies, but caring for them was more work than fun. Now, with a 3 and 2 year old, things are actually starting to be fun. I just see babyhood as a time to prepare for when you can have lots of fun with your kids.

  107. @wealhtheow – this is amazing, and I feel like I need to make myself a keychain with your quote – “You enjoy as much as you can, and endure the rest.”You guys are awesome (as always). We had a very rough week last week so I needed to see this post.

  108. My daughter will be one next week and still wakes up once to eat, despite everyone telling me that she would grow out of it when she would get older. I was one of the parents that read too much and thought too much. Then I discovered Moxie and decided to just go with the flow, not stress too much about things, not expect much and just find solutions that are easy on everyone. It made a HUGE difference. I now enjoy her much much more and she seems happier too!

  109. I’m right there with you. My son is 10.5 months and I love him to pieces, but I am pretty miserable most of the time. The word that constantly hovers in my head is “relentless.” It’s tough caring for a baby and it doesn’t stop. I work full-time, so it’s go-go-go constantly with no break. I’m falling asleep by 9 pm every night. I miss a lot of things about not having a baby, but the funny thing is is that even though I’m exhausted and at the end of my rope much of the time, I don’t regret having him at all. He’s already my favorite person and the “person” part is only just starting to come out. I think we just have to hang in there for the ride as best we can . . .

  110. I LOVE this post. It was like reading something my subconcious wrote. Things I KNOW deep inside, but just can’t dig out when I average 6 hours of sleep a night. Mine are 3.25yrs and 17 months and I am definitely noticing differences and changes happening before my eyes. I notice it most when I run to check on them constantly, and they’re just playing together (mostly quiet) in their room anyhow.

  111. I think it is all about the kid you are given. My daughter has been difficult from day 1. She is 5 1/2 and as difficult as ever. Just in different *ways* from how she was difficult as a baby.She is wonderful!! just high-maintenance as kids go. I was talking to a mom of 3 today whose kids are all very easy, compliant, good sleepers. Not that she doesn’t have mom-stress but there’s, um, a reason she has 3 and I have 1. Not all kids and their issues are created equal.
    So – don’t assume things will get easier. They will get different, though. And they MIGHT get easier! I just wouldn’t count on it. Also, learn NOW not to compare your child with others or blame his/her temperament and “difficulty” on your parenting.

  112. It does not get better, just different. Sadly when you look back on things you do realize the “little children little problems, big children big problems” dilemma. While my four kids are no longer babies waking up at night and being colicky, there are a multitude of other issues. It makes the earlier stages actually seem easier.

  113. @Johanna – I could have written your post! She will eventually outgrow the night feed – it’s just a matter of time. My daughter stopped waking to eat at night at around 15 months… well, not stopped completely, but it’s now rare instead of regular. I can’t believe how much better I feel after a solid 6-7 hours sleep most nights.Love Moxie and everyone here – you’ve all made a huge difference to how I feel about parenting. My low point was at 4 months when I was obsessing about DD’s refusal to nap anywhere other than on me, and feeling inadequate compared to the sleep books and my mum friends IRL. Then I came across this site, and the relief at being able to let it all go was tremendous. DD’s sleep didn’t suddenly get better, but my shift in attitude made everything so much easier to cope with. Yes, it was still hard work, and exhausting at times, but at least I didn’t feel like I was fighting her and myself too along with dealing with the everyday difficulties of parenting an infant.
    DD is such a fun little person at 20 months, I find it hard to remember how tough it was at the beginning. (which might be why I’m now able to contemplate trying for #2!)

  114. Wanna know how I found Moxie? When my Husband and I were crying and fighting trying to figure out how the hell not to kill each other because we were so tired. Colicky baby for 10 months (yep, 10 months) and he is just NOW, at 22 months – sleeping through the night at least 3 nights a week.Just logging on here realizing that we weren’t alone and that we weren’t doing anything wrong was so helpful. I can tell you from my experience that something happened with us all around 18 months and we are feeling another shift here at 22 months. Everything is getting a little easier and well… cooler. Like, for example tonight our DS said “Taco!” Just while he was eating it and then kept saying it which was so cute and then he said his name for the first time. It’s all pretty amazing. Hard but amazing. It does get easier so hang in there and communicate with your Husband. Have friends/family help you as much as possible and ((((big hugs))) to you.

  115. Thank you for this post (and to all those who have commented so far). I’ve had an especially hard day today with my 21 mo old beautiful boy. He’s been cranky, clingy and it’s not been a nice day for him either.This page made me feel a lot better. Thank you.

  116. I just want to say thank you for this post– and for all the comments that followed it. Parenting is SO hard, and it’s true that that’s a dirty little secret for some reason. I love that you and your community of readers and commenters are supporting each other through it all. It’s priceless to have that kind of support. Just knowing that other people find parenting an incredible challenge makes one’s own rough days easier.Rock on, fellow moms! You’re doing the hardest job there is, and doing it with thoughtfulness, care, and concern for other parents makes you even more incredible.

  117. After reading more of the comments, I wanted to say:Hbomb- 4 has been tough for us too. You are not alone, and I am finding the 4 year old MUCH harder than our infant. It sort of depends on what you’re good at, I suppose, but 4 seems a particularly tough age in our house. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone.
    And ACJ- God bless you!! Your words ring SO true to me. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  118. @OP Anon for sure, and others in the trenches:To borrow a phrase, it gets better.
    It doesn’t feel like it, but one day you look back and realize it’s been weeks since you last did the thing that really annoyed you. But you are busy being annoyed about the new thing and it distracted you from the old one. That took me forever to learn. That it’s a chain.
    As to the sleeping: some kids sleep well. Others don’t. Our first one: not a sleeper. Our second sleeps the sleep we all dream of. We tried it all and it worked on one and not the other.
    And that was my most valuable mommy moment: Your kid is your kid, and what works/doesn’t work in your house may or may not have anything to do with anyone else’s. You can offer what you know and experience and hope it helps, but if it doesn’t, it’s not that they did it wrong, or you didn’t try hard enough.
    Hang in there. Keep trying. And know that you will turn a corner. Really. Honest.

  119. I’m a little late to the game on this post since it’s January & I’m just now reading it, but I simply have to comment – this is one of the best, most reassuring things I’ve ever read about parenting a baby. I have a 10-month old boy myself & I have never read this put so beautifully & simply. Thank you!!

  120. New to your blog, but love it! It is so refreshing for me to hear that I’m not the only one that thinks parenting a baby sucks! I really and truly thought something was wrong with me. My daughter will be 1 next week and while she does bring joy to our home, I can’t stand the lack of sleep and lack of time to myself. And the lack of time for my husband. My husband is determined to have baby #2 in the next year and I wish I could just wait a bit longer to get to enjoy parenting a bit more before being thrown under the bus again. But, we are both concerned about my being pregnant at an older age and that’s why the push for baby #2 is so strong.

  121. around two to three months ualsluy depend on the child though ..feed her really good before bed. if she starts still waking up later on you might have to feed her cereal before bed it will help..To many parents don’t let their children let them selves fall back to sleep on their own. Let her actually really start crying good. (NOTscreaming her head off ). ..instead of just fussing around. She might just go back to sleep. Another thing NEVER rock your kids to sleep they won’t be able to go to sleep with out the rocking either.Put her to bed and allow her to go to sleep by her self. NOT holding her until she falls asleep. She will now be able to go to sleep by herself.

  122. Oh, my lord. I. So. Needed. To. Read. This.the mental, emotional, and–oh, yes–the physical challenges of mothering my almost 17-month old goblin are really remarkably SO MUCH MORE INTENSE than I imagined they’d be, and I’m someone who has been reading (and loving!) Ask Moxie for YEARS before I decided I wanted to get pregnant. I knew it would all be incredibly intense, but what I didn’t anticipate would be a long slow hard grind of physical exhaustion caused by lack of sleep (he isn’t the greatest sleeper), IBS, postpartum joint aches (caused by hyper mobility), blobs of anxiety and chemical depression…now i’m trying to figure out why i’ve been dizzy and brain-foggy for a month. yay. Sigh.
    And through it all the best thing is my son, and my husband gives as much support as he can (which is really lots considering how hard he works). And yet. Oh, I could go on.
    thanks for being here, y’all.

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  124. I read this many, many times when my son was under the age of 1. I love my son with a passion, but babyhood was horrible. I hated it. I want another one, and honestly the thought of going through it again scares the crap out of me.

    That being said, my son is almost 3 now, and I’m LOVING it! He’s so smart, funny, amazing… We have so much fun. I adore pretty much every single moment we spend together.

    Moms of babies… Hang in there. It gets soooooo much better. I promise!

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