We have all done it. As soon as we find out we are pregnant, we download the pregnancy apps, read all the recommended books, and excitedly read through Pinterest about bringing your newborn home. We really believe we can prepare ourselves for adjusting our entire lives around a feeding and nap schedule. Looking back at the beginning of our mothering journey should make us all laugh at our own thoughts and desires of what having kids will be like. There are no books or classes that can prepare you for what having a child will really be like. It is trial and fire.
- Your body is no longer your own.
As a mother, you become a walking zomie that functions on extreme amounts of caffeine while being disguised as a functioning person. The first few months are filled with soaking up newborn snuggles, but the constant physical touch lasts a couple years. Breastfed babies are known to be extra touchy, but even bottle fed babies are proned to be attention hungry. And not only do our children want attention, but our spouse wants attention too. After a long day of working or keeping up at home, we are so exhausted that sleep is the only thing on our minds. Forget about showers or alone time; sleep is a mothers best friend. Although a full night of sleep is vital, we need to stay in touch with our spouse. You have to spread out your time between your baby and your spouse.
- You are doing everything wrong... so they say.
It starts early; whatever you choose to do is completely wrong and will severely hurt your child. That is... according to somebody at the grocery store that you do not even know. There are so many choices in birthing and mothering that you are bound to get advice from people on all sides. Whether you get an epidural, have a natural birth, bottle feed, breastfeed, cloth diaper, vaccinate, homeschool, you can never make anybody happy. And it is very important to confidently know that you do not need to make anybody happy to be a good mother. Mothering is between you and your child. Early on, I would constantly feel the need to defend choices I made. One day I caught myself defending why I made my own baby food without anybody criticizing me first.
- The rules are always changing.
Children have this amazing sixth sense and seem to decipher when you think you finally know what you are doing and have this parenting thing down. You might have a couple great days and think you've found a routine that works. Then suddenly your child decides they do not need to nap or will only eat food on the floor. One week there is no eating allowed in the car and the next week, you are tossing chicken nuggets to the back seat while eating a cheeseburger. It is perfectly normal to adapt your rules to each new stage of life. As long as you apply your rules consistently, then your children will grasp the guidelines.
- Your kid has superhuman powers.
Have you seen those kids in public who have more energy than the Energizer Bunny? It is not because their parents fed them sugar for breakfast. Children have some of the craziest hidden talents. My son was able to pee more liquid at the grocery store in one trip than he had drank all week. Kids are always full of surprises... good and bad. But being a mom gives you the best group of coworkers. When you need some advice on how to cope with problems you are having, your mom friends have more than likely been through something similar and are usually ready with some (wanted) advice.
- You WILL eat your words.
I can remember before I had kids, I would think to myself, "I will never feed my kids in the car," or "My child will never act like that in public." The truth is, for every one of your "nevers," the world will laugh in your face. It is more important to be confident in your mothering and to trust your instincts than follow somebody else's path. If you need to break one of your nevers, think of it as a treat and not as a failure. Maybe your errands took so long that you need a late lunch and those yummy chicken nuggets are the perfect way to keep your little one from a meltdown on the way home.
Do not worry about being perfect. We have so many people judging what we do every day, that we do not need to judge our own mothering skills. Our kids learn and grow every day, so every day is different from the last and a new opportunity. Go with the flow of your kids and enjoy learning with them. If nothing else, you will have a great story to tell when your spouse gets home.