Things They Don't Tell You About Motherhood
By Sarah L.
Expecting your first baby is such an exciting time. You do everything possible to prepare for this new life you are responsible for. You read books about birth and parenting, you take classes, and you listen to advice from friends and relatives about parenthood. You prepare the nursery, do your research to find the best car seat, wash and put away all the tiny baby clothes, daydream about holding your sweetie, and you start feeling you are prepared and ready for motherhood.
The pregnancy goes by in a rush, the first few exhausting months of life with a newborn are a blur and somehow you recover and it dawns on you - there are things that they do not teach you in classes or books. They go way beyond the hospital, and happen when you are alone in the middle of the night or when no one is around.
Now you know they don’t tell you how hard babies can be or that they will most likely poo, pee, puke, and drool on what is left of your already limited postpartum wardrobe leaving you absolutely nothing decent to wear in public. They don’t tell you that despite others’ efforts to help; you are the only one who can soothe your baby and get him to go to sleep because there is no place like a mother’s arms and quite possibly you are his food source.
They don’t tell you that your sweet innocent baby will turn into a defiant, angry toddler or that you will reach levels of exhaustion that you never knew existed. Even more surprising you will continue to function as an almost normal human being for weeks, even months on end. No one will notice because they are all exhausted too.
One day you will be surprised to find that you will turn your back for a minuscule moment of time and then you will find that someone has quite proudly peed in your shoes OR unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper OR colored on your new ottoman with permanent marker OR given herself a haircut with scissors you could swear were well hidden. You will also be surprised to find that because your toddler is so stinking cute, you won’t stay mad very long at all.
There are moments of embarrassment deeper than any other, not to mention the new levels of fatigue, pain, and loneliness that you didn’t think were possible. As you pick up the same toys, cook the same meals, clean the same toilets, and fold the same clothes over and over and over again you will realize your life has become quite dull and mundane.
BUT there are other moments they don’t tell you about too, like the joy of seeing your squirming, pink baby for the first time. The awe you feel of the miracle that you and your husband have created this tiny person that you are now totally responsible for. And at that moment you feel love deeper than any other you have ever felt. You find yourself staring at your child as she sleeps, whether they are 3 days old or 3 years old, thinking how angelic and beautiful they look and you make yourself resist grabbing her and squeezing her, so that you don’t disturb her sweet peacefulness.
They don’t tell you how your heart feels like it will jump out of your chest when you see your toddler teetering at the top of a staircase or the pain you feel when you see him get hurt. They never tell you about that day when your child comes home from school with his feelings hurt and you feel a new and scary urge to track that person down and explain to them, not so calmly, how wonderful your baby is and make them apologize and understand. You will want to fix it and you will feel utterly out of control and helpless.
There is the first time you watch them do something they love and you won’t be able to stop the smile from spreading across your face. The moment when you realize they have grown up right before you and tears threaten to escape from your damp eyes before you can stop them. Suddenly you have a revelation - My Baby is a Kid!!
You will celebrate each new tooth and then celebrate a few years later as they fall out one by one, not even remembering how much pain, crying, crabbiness, and sleepless nights they caused as they broke through. The days drag and the years fly by almost without you even noticing. You wish them to pass and then wish them back again the next minute. They just don’t tell you how awesome motherhood is in a strange combination of wonderful and exhausting and painful and rewarding and emotional and surprising. Or how fast it all goes.
So whether you are a mom of 1 child or 5 children, of a newborn or a 15 year old; you are in the know. You know the things they don’t tell you, the things they can’t tell you because they are just too hard to explain. Some things you just have to figure out on your own and do your own way. It is something you have to experience to understand.
So, of all the things I have experienced as a mom these last 8 ½ years, in the blur of all the wonderful, horrible, and hilarious things, what would I tell a new mother so she would know? So she wouldn’t wait too long figure it out?
Enjoy these moments right now, whatever stage you are in, enjoy! Don’t look back at times past. Don’t waste time wishing for chubby fingers and snugly babies. Don’t look forward to this stage passing because there is always a new and different stage that is just as challenging.
Live right now! Enjoy it! Savor the small things like the giggles, the silliness, the messes, and then laugh about the things that don’t seem funny. Cherish them, because even if you have only been a mother for a month, you already know how fast that month went by and how many things can change in such a short time. A month will turn into a year which turns into a decade in the blink of an eye. Our children will grow and lose their chubby hands, their legs will get long and skinny and bruised, their attitudes will get big, they will push for independence, and they will become real grown up people with their own personalities and their own identities. They will make their own decisions both good and bad. Decisions we have no control over. Embrace it. Don’t hold them back by looking back at times past or wishing for the future and the hope of “easier” days. Accept and enjoy where they are right now.
Hug your preschooler and all your other kids too. Hug them tight and enjoy this moment. You won’t be sorry, because tomorrow this moment will be gone forever. These are the things they don’t tell you about motherhood. It’s not easy but it is worth it.
Originally published in the May 2014 Indian Creek MOPS Newsletter