Just a Phase

How many times in the first year of your child’s life do you hear “It’s just a phase. It’ll pass.”? For me, it feels like it’s everyone’s default response to hard days and –surprise!– it does absolutely nothing to make me feel better. Does it help anyone, I wonder?

“My son rolls onto his belly and then can’t get back to his back so he screams until I do it for him. It’s driving me crazy!”

“It’s just a phase! Enjoy it while it lasts!”

“My kid has started screaming at the top of his lungs so that the dog will start howling and it becomes a never-ending cycle of screaming and howling until my ears ring.”

“It’s just a phase! Enjoy it while it lasts!”

“My kid won’t stop throwing his soother out of his crib as a ploy to get someone to come see him. I’m constantly on the floor in the dark looking for a stupid soother.”

“It’s just a phase! Enjoy it while it lasts!”

“My little boy, who has slept through the night since about 2 months, has started having night terrors that get everyone in the house up multiple times per night. I am so exhausted.”

“It’s just a phase! Enjoy it while it lasts!”


“Some phases last longer than others.”

I'm supposed to be sleeping!
 I’m supposed to be sleeping!

Honestly, hearing this over and over invalidated how I was feeling, which most of the time was complete and utter exhaustion. There was very little joy to be found in the teething days, the sleepless nights, and the fact that I was pregnant most of his first year. The last thing I needed to hear was that I should be enjoying it. What I wanted to hear was “Oh that sounds like a nightmare! Would you like something delicious to eat/drink to make you feel better?”

We tell mothers to enjoy every minute of their babies’ lives. And I get why, especially from older moms. When your kid can’t seem to keep himself out of detention or your teenager is so freaking stubborn that you want to lock her in her room until she’s reasonable again, the days with a pliable baby sure look like a dream. I get it. But that doesn’t help me today. Just like someone with adult children telling someone with teenagers that “it’s just a phase” would drive the parent of teens up the wall. When a parent tells you they feel like crap or they’re struggling with a phase in their kids’ lives, they’re not looking for “comfort” (if that’s what you want to think of it as). They’re looking for validation.

Yes, when your kid just won’t sleep, it sucks. Yes, when your kid refuses to be potty trained, it sucks. Yes, when your kids won’t do their homework, talks back to you, doesn’t listen, or really any of the “phases” between infancy and adulthood, it sucks. Parenting, in general, is not fun. It’s a huge amount of work to teach a human being literally every single thing about how to be a human being. And, apparently, it’s fulfilling. I’ll let you know when we get to that part.

And you know what the worst part of it all it? Everything is a phase. It really is. And once the phase is done, you do feel that wonderful sense of relief that it didn’t become the new normal. But telling you that in the midst of the phase helps no one. Offering sympathy and something delicious is a much better plan. I promise that no parent is going to decline an offer for cookies unless they have an allergy or something. Actually, this goes for everyone. If you want to be well-liked, just carry cookies with you all the time. Student in the middle of midterms? Here’s a cookie. Bride planning her wedding? Here’s a cookie. Anybody on a Monday? Here’s a cookie. Pure gold.

So, how many times have you dealt with that dreaded phrase? Does it drive you bonkers or does it give you a sense of hope (trick question, no one says it fills them with hope)? What is your stance on cookies?


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