After having her first baby, Danielle Dayney realized how utterly inexperienced she was when it came to parenting.

Courtesy of Danielle Dayney

She wrote on her blog how her complete unpreparedness for motherhood terrified her. Her lack of experience culminated one night when her loved ones were all unreachable:

My mom was on a plane 39,000 feet above me; my husband was at work on the other side of The East River; my nearest friend was one state away; my baby was screaming in the crib, and I was on the living room floor completely losing my s**t.

Shrill cries and exhaustion do not make for a happy combination. So even after trying everything she could think of, Dayney wrote that:

Frustration bubbled up, consuming me, and before the thought of doing something I’d later regret had the chance to wiggle it’s way into my head, I remembered what the nurses said: it’s okay to let her cry sometimes. It’s okay to take a moment to breathe. And never shake the baby.

It became too much, so she took a step back and let her exhaustion and confusion overwhelm her. She pleaded and prayed for help from someone, something, anything to give her strength:

“Please help me. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know how to make her stop crying. I’ll do anything,” I begged. “What do I do?”

With her baby’s cries getting louder and more piercing, Dayney wrote:

I imagined melting into the floor to disappear from my new role as mother, to hide from that hideous light fixture, to hide from life.

Pleading once more, she asked:

“What do I do?” I repeated in a whisper. I pinched my eyes shut and searched my brain for advice I’d been given and chapters I’d read on this sort of thing. I couldn’t come up with anything that I hadn’t already tried. “Why do I suck at parenting so bad? What am I doing wrong?”

And then the answer came to her.

Courtesy of Danielle Dayney

A voice from somewhere, real or imagined from exhaustion, told Dayney to:

“Just love her.”

Advice that once seemed too simple and obvious to be helpful was now her saving grace. Those simple words gave Dayney the strength she needed to get up off the floor:

I carefully stood and pushed wet tangles of hair from my face with a fraction of new determination and strength. Yes, this is difficult. Yes, I’m alone, but I have to do it. She and I only have each other.

She returned to her daughter’s room, eyes opened with this new wisdom:

I went to her crib with breath stuck in my chest, new tears falling from my eyes. I knew I had to comfort her.

I knew I had to love her.

Her daughters are older now, ages six and two, and Dayney spoke with Dearly about her years of experience as a mother.

Courtesy of Danielle Dayney

Even though she’s been parenting for over half a decade, she still recognizes the challenges of being a mom. She shared her advice to new moms with Dearly:

“I think the best advice I can give to other new moms experiencing the same sort of thing my essay is about (other than the advice I mention in the essay) is to take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Motherhood doesn’t come with instructions and often I find that things that worked one day will not work the next.”

Out of the many things she’s learned as a mother, she emphasized the importance of making time for yourself. She said:

“If you aren’t the healthiest version of you, then the whole family suffers.”

For Dayney, “me time” consists of writing and blogging:

“It’s my meditation. My thing that’s just mine. I also love painting and distressing furniture and crocheting in the winter.”

That’s not to say she doesn’t love spending time her with children.

Courtesy of Danielle Dayney

If anything, she cites not having enough time with her girls as her biggest challenge. She told Dearly:

“Kids need that one-on-one time. Also, the older they get, the more involved in activities they get. Mondays we have tennis/swim/dance and we are literally gone all day, so making the day fun instead of stressful can be challenging.”

Good parenting is a mixture of time, trial, and error. Like many things, it gets easier over time. But over time, a parent’s love will only grow stronger.

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