Three babies – I had a whole three babies who are now my big babies at ages 7, 11, and 14. Before I became a mom, I thought I knew a little somethin,’ somethin’ about raising kids. Turns out I was horribly wrong. There is so much I have learned over the last 14 years and so much I wish I knew before becoming a mama.
Here’s 10 things I wish I knew before becoming a parent:
- #1 They are babies for, like, two seconds – literally. So, savor those moments. The new baby smell; soft, sweet cheeks; baby coos; and all the firsts because you blink, and they are teenagers.
- #2 Let your family, friends, and neighbors bring all the meals. It’s so much work to care for a new baby during those first few months, so let people love on you and support you and your family.
- #3 The level of exhaustion you will experience. I thought I was tired during the first trimester of my pregnancy, but nope. I was BEYOND tired trying to care for this newborn. All the diaper changes, breast feeding, pumping, and trying to sleep when the baby is sleeping but instead staring at that sweet face nearly took me out.
- #4 How long it actually takes to leave the house with the baby in tow. Seriously it takes fifty-leven hours to get out of the house. Oh, my goodness. I had no idea. It seemed so simple until I had to do it. Get baby dressed, and pray baby doesn’t poop, pee, or spit up copious amounts of milk on the cute outfit with which you had to wrestle just to get on the said baby. Getting all the things into the diaper bag. Taking a shower to erase the stench of week-old funk from your body because you just don’t have time to bathe anymore. Finding clothes that fit your baby because you can’t wear maternity clothes anymore but still can’t fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes.
- #5 Sleeping through the night is a freakin’ joke for you and baby. Not one of my babies ever slept through the night. When it got good, we might get a four- or five-hour stretch, but eight hours never happened. Kudos to all the mamas who discovered the magic trick to get that baby to sleep for 7+ hours a night.
- #6 Mommy guilt is for real. I had all these ridiculous expectations for myself, expectations I honestly thought I would meet like breast feeding exclusively for the first 6 months, pureeing my own baby foods using only organic fruits and vegetables, and loving every waking moment of parenting. None of this happened. This mama was tired. Breast feeding and pumping was difficult at best and sometimes felt impossible especially when most workspaces are not mom friendly. I never anticipated that I would desperately want to return to work because 6 weeks for maternity leave felt sooo long and then feeling horrible about myself when so many other mamas were so sad to go back to work. I didn’t know how judgey other moms can be and that I would find myself playing the comparison game which only exacerbated my guilt and shame. I held on to that mommy guilt for far too long. Societal expectations are anti-mom, and that needs to change.
- #7 Mommy brain is nothing to play with. My cognitive functioning has still not returned to its pre-pregnancy state. I cannot remember anything. Not what I wore yesterday, not deadlines, not the story you told me a few weeks ago, not the thing I said I was supposed to remember – NOTHING!
- #8 Breastfed baby poop is so doggone explosive. I mean that yellow, seedy poop full on destroying baby’s clothes and mommy’s clothes and getting all over baby’s back and in their hair at the most inopportune times like when you are already super late for the baby’s doctor’s appointment. And baby only smiles the cutest baby grin while ‘ish explodes everywhere.
- #9 Parenting tests your marriage and your inner gangsta. It’s so easy to get into arguments with your significant other when you are sleep deprived, irritable, and struggling to balance motherhood, your marriage, and your career. Emotional and physical intimacy often suffer because you are too tired to talk, let alone fit in sexy time. And your children will say things to you that you never imagined they would say. The tears, the tantrums, the fierce challenge to your authority will make you sing, “Y’all gone make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here … Y’all gone make me act a fool, up in here, up in here. Y’all gone make me lose my cool, up in here, up in here” in my DMX voice.
- #10 The depth of my love is unfathomable. My heart burst with every positive pregnancy test. I love each of my children with every part of me, even before they ever entered the world. I will give my first and my last, risk my pride, and lose my life for them. For they are my literal heart outside of my chest.