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Oh motherhood. How sweet and terrifying it is. Not to mention hard. It is by far the hardest, most exhausting job I will ever have. I remember as a kid always wondering why my mom was so tired. Well, now I know.
To be fair, I was quite unprepared for it as my pregnancy came as a surprise. But I always wanted to be a mom, so I readied myself. At least I thought I was ready. There are so many things that the parenting guidebooks don't mention!
1. You're doing it wrong.
No matter what you're doing/not doing, it's wrong. Just ask your friend, neighbor, mother-in-law, random lady at the store. No don't bother to ask because they will tell you. Everyone, literally EVERYONE, has an opinion from how to properly burp a newborn to how to talk about the birds and the bees and they just love sharing them with you (even if your child is still in diapers and nowhere near ready to learn where babies come from). Now that so many people are online, there are a wealth of baby dos and don'ts. Just Google "sleep training" and you'll see what I mean. As a new mother, I was overwhelmed with all the knowledge and now I know which tips I want to implement and which ones to ignore.
2. Your social life will never be the same again.
Okay. Duh. I knew having a baby was going to change my social life, but I had no idea to what extent. I can't remember the last time I went out past 7 PM. Granted, my baby has had a rough time with the whole sleeping and weaning thing so babysitter at night hasn't been an option yet. Still working on that goal! Not only that but the weekends, which used to be spent sleeping in or doing fun things just for me, has now been designated to running a million errands and having family time with the grandparents. My social life now includes meeting up with other moms for play dates and the occasional Starbucks run (drive-through is a life saver). This has honestly been one of the hardest things for me as I've watched my friendships with most of my single, childless friends slowly deteriorate, but I've made peace with it. I'm in a different place in life and it's okay. But for baby number two, I will definitely work harder on maintaining those friendships and having a social life.
3. You will never sleep again.
4. You will Google everything.
The one thing I definitely learned as a new mom was how little I actually knew. Thank god for Google. I don't know what I'd do without it. A lot of parenting in the baby/toddler stages is guessing. Is my baby crying because they're hungry? Tired? Sick? Poopy? Teething? Angry? Is this poop normal? Are they eating enough? There are so many questions. And when you ask others or Google, everyone gives you different answers. People will bring up things you didn't even think of. My favorite is when they say, "Just watch your baby. You'll know."...what? In other words they mean they're as clueless as you. Guess what. Even doctors sometimes are guessing. Sure ,it's an educated guess and they have tests/methods for coming to a conclusion, but nobody has all the answers. Now after the first baby, I feel confident enough at the guessing game, but I know I'll still be googling my way through parenthood.
5. You will never be 'on time' again.
6. You will spend so much time cleaning.
Kids are messy. Yes. I knew that, but hot damn, I didn't know I'd have to vacuum my floor twice maybe three times a day. And I don't even like to vacuum. I can't remember a time my laundry basket was empty. For someone so little, my son can make a HUGE mess. I can't even wear the same shirt or pants twice in a row unless I want to wear them with all the stains from the day. Some days, I just look for the easiest clean up foods to give him so I don't have to clean up his tray all over again. He literally can not eat one single meal/snack without spilling/throwing something on the floor. Thank god we have tile in our house. The next baby is going to come with their own messes and at that point, I'll be so used to cleaning up messes, it probably won't even phase me. Maybe. Or maybe I'll hire a cleaner to come.
7. You will never be alone again.
8. You will never be prouder.
As a new mom, it was exciting to think about who my child would become. Every stage as I watched and continue to watch him grow is amazing. I never thought I'd be so proud watching my tiny human do something as simple as laugh for the first time or use his fork for the first time. My mom heart just bursts with joy when he learns something new. There are times when he does things that surprise me and I think, "wow my kid is a genius" and I think every parent has those moments. Nobody but a parent would understand the praise you give to your kid for doing such simple things like going down the slide by themselves. I especially love seeing him become his own person. There are definitely traits I see that he gets from me, but there is also so much that is uniquely him and I love it. I know for the next baby I'll be just as proud.
9. You will doubt yourself... a lot.
How do you know if you're a good parent? There are so many tips and answers out there it is so overwhelming as a first time mom. The one thing I've really taken to heart and what I tell others who ask (yes, wait until someone actually asks) for my advice, "Every baby and every parent is different." Now at first it doesn't seem like I'm saying much, but if you really think about it, you'll understand what I mean. There could be a million ways to do something, but only one that works for you and your child. It's hard not to compare your kid to other kids, but as a parent you come to realize that you have to decide what is right for your family. Even when you think you're doing your best, there's still a nagging feeling like you should be doing more or doing something different, but the truth is you cannot control another human being. You can't MAKE your kid do anything. You can teach and train and encourage and discourage. You can use discipline or any method to correct behavior, but just like no one can truly control you, you cannot truly have complete control over your child. This was something I learned a little later I think. I was blessed with a willful child and I had a lot of self doubt on how I was doing as a parent, but I've come to realize what kind of mom I am and what works/doesn't work for me. Finding that balance has relieved a lot of the stress and pressure I put on myself. As cliche as it sounds, I've learned that I just have to do my best and accept that I'm going to make mistakes. Parenting is a learn as you go job. I will definitely be more prepared the next round.
10. You will never love anyone more.
Of course I had to end with something mushy. As exhausting and stressful as it can be, parenting isn't without its rewards. But why do I do it? Deal with all the neediness and whining and cleaning? At the end of the day, even if it's been a rough one, I know I'd do it all over again because I love my son. I love him more than anything. As a first time mom, it was so hard for me. I had postpartum depression and the first week was so rough. I didn't feel connected to this little being. He didn't feel like he was a part of me and I felt like a terrible mom for feeling that way. I was tired of hearing all the moms tell me how a mother's love was so unconditional, amazing, etc, etc. Because, honestly, at first I wasn't sure I felt that way. I mean yes, I loved my baby because he was my baby, but I didn't experience the depth of this love until I watched him grow. My love is growing with him. Just the thought of something bad happening to him tears me up inside. I can't imagine life without him. Even as I type this, I'm tearing up. He is a pain in the butt some days for sure, but when he reaches his little arms up to me and gives me that big, buck tooth grin, I just melt. I can't imagine loving anyone more, but I'm sure when it's the right time (not anytime soon) for another baby, I will have that gut wrenching mother's love to spread.