No one can fully prepare you for motherhood. Not books, not your mother, not your wise experienced friends. There is no instruction manual. However, here are a few warnings I wish I knew before embarking on the wild ride of mommyhood.
Early Motherhood is Wet – I do not remember a dry moment when my kids’ were babies. Not one that lasted more than 20 minutes. And NO ONE warned me it would be countless hours of laundry. Leaking breast milk, watery and yellow poo, spit up, pee, and mashed bananas. Early motherhood is wet. Enough said.
You Will Never Sleep Again – You think I’m kidding? I think the last full night sleep I had was when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. I knew there would be an occasional sleepless night, but no one told me I would NEVER have a deep night sleep again. And I love to sleep. This warning might have actually been a deal breaker. Whether you are up with an infant, listening for a croupy cough, waiting for your teenager to home, worrying about your adult child’s job, or anticipating your grandchild’s next visit; shut eye will never be what it once was.
Nature’s Irony: Hormones – Thank you hormones for not adapting to the times. I understand our bodies were designed with some fairly reptilian functions. Woman and man make baby. Woman nurtures baby. Man hunts, gathers and makes more babies to keep the human race alive. Wonderful way to keep the species going, right? How does that translate in modern time? Terribly. New mom wants to take care of her new baby, hormones tell her “DO NOT run off with another caveman.” Obligingly new mom’s hormones SHUT IT DOWN. No more sex. Not with the next caveman and certainly not with the father of her new baby. Men’s hormones on the other hand are pounding their chest ready to keep the human race booming. No one warned me that I would be so sexually out of sync with my husband in the weeks and months following the birth of our children.
Forms, Forms and More Forms – It starts with completing the birth certificate, “Isn’t this fun?!?!?” Enjoy it because the novelty wears off, fast. Motherhood includes filling out thousands, if not tens of thousands of forms. Forms for school transportations. Forms for picture releases. Forms for emergency contacts. Forms for allergies. Forms for “what kind of learner is your child.” By the time your child is in high school you will be an expert form-filler-outer. My husband looks at a form with a blank stare, like it’s in Chinese. “Just give it to me.” But for the love, please let your child complete their own college application forms.
Friendships with Your Single Friends Change – No matter how hard you try, how gracefully you fake it and how much it hurts; the reality is your friendship with your single friends will never be the same.
Mean Girls Grow Up to be Mean Moms – The girls who do not worry about hurting others’ feelings or set up exclusive groups, grow up to be women who value the same thing. No further description needed, you know the type. And, unfortunately, for our kids, their offspring often turn out just like their moms.
Mothers’ Judge Each Other – Most of us don’t mean to, we deny it, but we really do judge each other. It starts as early as the means of conception (natural versus medical intervention) and travels all the way through our children’s chosen career. We all have something to say or think about how the rest of us mother. I had no idea, but have found solace in aligning with the moms who admit they are judgmental, try not to be and realize we are all trying our best (whether or not our kids were in cloth diapers and did not have processed sugar until college).
Your Mom Makes Sense – Whether you had a perfect mom or a not so perfect mom, suddenly she makes sense. Motherhood magically reveals why your mom was the way she was, made the choices she did, or said the things she said. And for those lucky enough to have a good mom, she will never be as important to you as she becomes once you start raising your kids.
You Will Never Shed So Many Tears – Once you outgrow the wetness of infancy, you are still faced with liquid. Of the tear-type. You will never cry so much as you do in motherhood. I have always been the sentimental type. Known to cry over those sweet Hallmark movies. But no one prepared me for the amount I would cry as a mom. You cry because you’re happy. You cry because you’re sad. You cry from exhaustion, humiliation, self-doubt, regret and anger. You cry because you are so proud, so moved, so overcome with unconditional love. And sometimes you cry because you have no idea what else to do.
You Win Some and You Lose Some – Why didn’t anyone warn me that you will never be so critical of yourself until you become a mom? I mean, bring you to your knees critical. Of course, there are the wonderful moments when you feel like you did something right or you really knocked that lecture out of the park, but there are more moments of second guessing yourself. As my mom wisely said, “It’s the good moms who care whether or not they are doing a good job.” When you make a mistake, cut your losses. Cut them, move forward and NEVER look back. We are all doing our best.
Learn to Love and Be Loved – Parenthood is far more complex than I ever anticipated. It’s about teaching these amazing little (and eventually not so little) people what we have learned and help gently guide them through the landmines of life At the same time, we have an opportunity to heal ourselves. Of course, it’s tricky identifying what emotions belong to us and what belong to them. What an unexpected gift to be able to touch these little souls and learn how to love more deeply, but also learn to love our little souls and be loved in the process.
~Be good to yourself.~