This blog post has been two days in the making. Actually longer than that because I came down with the stomach bug from HELL this weekend & am just today feeling more or less like a normal human being again. I would seriously take pneumonia or the real flu (you know, the respiratory one) over the stomach bug ANY day of the week. I know some people say “But the flu lasts a week; the stomach bug is just 24-48 hrs.” HA! Maybe for some folks but for me it’s always taken 3-4 days minimum to truly recover from a stomach bug, & it was MUCH harder this time because I was breastfeeding & caring for a 12 week old baby the entire time. Thank goodness for my husband for helping to care for me & Rachel & for my parents for coming down on Monday to help me when my husband had to go back to work. It’s been my nightmare ever since Rachel was born that I would come down with a stomach bug. Well, it happened. And it sucked. Royally. But I lived to tell the story. Which brings me to the point of this post.
Motherhood is a lot of things. At moments it is the most glorious, wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced. At other times it’s so incredibly hard that I wonder what I was thinking getting into this. The good news is, as the weeks have passed, the former moments far outweigh the latter moments. And I’ve learned that I am SO MUCH STRONGER than I ever thought possible. So in honor of that I thought I’d post some of the realities of being a mom, at least for me, many of which are really quite humorous. If you’re a mom I think you’ll find yourself smiling & nodding along. If you’re not, hopefully this post will make you want to join the club. Or not; that’s a totally acceptable choice as well!
(FYI, I used feminine pronouns throughout this post simply because my baby is a girl so it was just easier for me that way . . . Also, this post is most applicable to moms with infants. As I only have one child myself, who is just 12 weeks old, I obviously can’t yet speak to motherhood beyond this point.)
Being a mom means . . .
- Learning to do almost anything & everything one-handed. This includes cooking, cleaning, using the bathroom, signing for pizza delivery, texting, typing, etc, etc. The list could go on forever!
- As soon as you finish laundry for the day the baby will have a poop-splosion (i.e. an explosion of poop) that soils her entire outfit & possibly yours as well. So then you have to decide if you want to hand-wash everything or run the washing machine for just a handful of items. Usually I go with the former & figure I’m getting a taste of what motherhood must have been like for my great-grandmothers in the days before washing machines.
- As soon as you take the burp rag away thinking for sure the baby won’t spit up on you, that is the exact moment the baby will spit up on you.
- As soon as you change the baby’s diaper, get her outfit on her, & put her down for a nap or to play in her bouncy seat, that is exactly when she will have yet another poop. Babies are not economical or efficient. But they are born with a sarcastic streak, I swear! I know mine has one . . . But then again, how could she not with parents like me & my husband?
- Googling everything under the sun at all hours of night & day, scouring the interwebs for any sign that whatever “strange” or annoying thing your baby is doing is normal . . . or for how in the world to make her STOP CRYING?!
- And eventually figuring out that, despite all of your doubts, you really are the expert on your own child. After a while you recognize patterns & pick up on cues that in the early days were all just a mysterious blur. And when you realize how far you’ve come you feel like a TOTAL ROCK STAR. And you are!!
- Never eating a full meal in one sitting (or at least very rarely) because the baby always needs something as soon as you sit down to eat. You soon get used to either eating cold food or reheating things a bunch of times.
- Taking the fastest showers of your life because you’re scared to death the baby will explode while she’s out of your sight . . . until you realize she actually won’t & you WILL hear her crying over the sound of the water . . . So then you start taking longer & longer showers just to have some time to yourself.
- Making up excuses to drive places just because the baby loves her carseat & takes some of her best naps while you’re in the car.
- Loving & appreciating your own mom more than ever because you realize just how amazing she truly is.
- Feeling a sudden, however slight, connection to every mom you meet just because you know you share so many of the same daily struggles & delights.
- Being willing to make career changes you never considered before becoming a mom. For some this means becoming a stay at home mom. For others it means changing careers completely or going part time. For me it has meant leaving hospital nursing to pursue part time clinic work. (I was originally planning to go back to the hospital part time but decided the schedule as well as the hectic, often stressful shifts there just didn’t fit with my priorities anymore. That’s a whole other blog post that I’ll get around to writing eventually.)
- Experiencing a love like you’ve never experienced before. It really is indescribable.
- Loving (& often missing) sleep more than ever. I’ve almost always been wise enough to choose sleep over housework or any other task when I know I really need sleep . . . And I know I’m saner for it. Trust me, if you have any doubt, the best choice is always sleep. Husbands, moms, dads, & friends can all help with housework or caring for the baby. But none of them can sleep for you.
- Learning to love your body for what it can DO as well as how it looks. It means learning to embrace your “flaws” & knowing that even if your stomach is never quite as flat again (Who am I kidding? Mine was never super flat anyway.) & even if the stretch marks never fully fade away, you’d still choose your precious child over your old body a thousand times over.
- Learning to give yourself a lot of grace. I learned very fast that there were certain things I just wasn’t going to be able to do as a mom, at least as a new mom. For example, using cloth diapers is just not going to happen any time soon. I need my sanity, & there is no way I could handle all the work that comes with cloth diapering & stay sane right now. It also means learning to forgive yourself when you find yourself getting frustrated & angry with your own child sometimes. We have to learn that none of us is perfect & we all have our less than stellar moments, but it’s all just part of the journey.
- You can’t watch/read the news without feeling like your heart is going to break. Every tragedy in the world is suddenly magnified a thousand times because you realize that was someone’s BABY who was hurt/killed. So, if you’re like me, you decide to filter most news through your husband & friends & otherwise be the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.
- Every time you start to think about having another baby in the future, something happens & you’re convinced there is no way you could ever handle more than one child. At least not for another 3 or 4 years. But then you worry that if you separate your kids that much they won’t be “close.” But then you remember that having them close together in no way guarantees that they will be close to each other, just as having them further apart in no way guarantees they WON’T be. Basically when it comes to having kids there are no guarantees. Ever. Which brings me to my final point . . .
- Being a mom means learning to laugh at the chaos, to “roll with the punches,” to take whatever life throws at you & find a way to not only survive but thrive. As I said at the beginning, being a mom means learning that no matter how hard things get, you somehow find the strength to keep on trucking because you are SO MUCH STRONGER than you ever thought possible.