Before I became a mother, there were things about motherhood I knew everything about (try to control your laughter) and there were things about motherhood I knew nothing about. I picked up all the books my friends who were new mothers suggested and suddenly I knew EVERYTHING there was to know about motherhood. After all, I had read every single book there was to read on the subject, and I had a dog, so clearly, I was an expert. I had been preparing for motherhood for as long as I could remember, and I was beyond ready. It was my belief that in order to become a mother I should learn everything possible about babies and children beforehand. So I did just that. I did not just read books. I asked question after question to all my friends who were already mothers.
I found out everything I should be eating and not eating. I found out the best ways to make sure my baby would sleep through the night. I bought the best products that were going to help my baby stay happy and engaged throughout the day. I was ready for a baby, right? The funny thing is, despite all the books I read and questions I asked, I never once thought to ask the most important question: What is the one thing about motherhood no one told you? I wish I had asked that, because in my opinion, you can prepare for labor and for all things baby like diapering, feeding, rocking and swaddling, but nothing prepares you for motherhood. Bringing home a baby is just the beginning of a long journey. Some of it is beautiful and amazing, and some of it is hard and lonely. Here are some things I wish I had known about motherhood:
1. Motherhood is beautiful and terrifying all at once.
2. You won't always be happy as a mother.
3. You will always love your children, but there will be times when you don't like them, and that is completely normal.
4. There will be times when you will want to cry in the corner.
5. There will be times when you do cry in the corner.
6. You will learn you are so much stronger than you thought.
7. The first time you hear your child laugh, you will find a part of your heart that you did not realize existed, and it will make you smile a smile you had no idea was possible.
8. You will doubt yourself.
9. You will at some point sound like your mother and it will make you both cringe and giggle.
10. You will share information with your friends that you never would have thought was appropriate before kids -- things like, "Oh my God, I haven't pooped in at least four days!" and "Why are my nipples so sore, this kid doesn't even have teeth yet?" and "I'm seriously telling my husband the doctor said four more weeks." They will laugh with you, cry with you and understand you in ways that only a mother can.
11. You will do anything for sleep. For example, a person who may have said she would never rock her child in a glider all night just to get some shuteye will do just that. Hell, I would have swung on a swing at 3:00 in the morning by myself in a park to get my firstborn to sleep for longer than one hour at a time. Seriously!
12. You will learn as you go, and that is just fine. Your kids will somehow think you know what you're doing, until they're teenagers, of course, and then you are suddenly the biggest idiot on the planet.
13. You will feel judged by others.
14. You will judge others.
15. You will empathize with other mothers in public. You are now part of the club, and sticking together is how we survive.
16. You will sit and stare at a wall while your child naps, because you haven't had a moment to yourself in who knows how long.
17. You will look forward to going to the dentist.
18. You will feel protective in a way you never thought possible.
19. You will love your spouse in a different way than you did before you had children.
20. You will learn to let some things go.
21. You will sometimes miss who you once were.
22. You will learn from your children.
23. You will experience love that is all-encompassing, beautiful, terrifying and endless.
24. There will be good days.
25. There will be bad days.
26. There will be excellent days.
27. There will be horrible days.
28. You will come out of each day tired, but strong.
29. You are more prepared for this gig than you give yourself credit for.
30. You are not perfect, but neither is the mother next to you or the one next to her. It is the one thing we all have in common.
Motherhood comes with pressure. It comes with pressure from the people around us, but most of the pressure we feel comes from ourselves. I think motherhood is something to tackle day by day. I read so many books, it was as if I thought I could prepare for the entire journey before I even had a child. What I have learned along the way is that there is no book that can prepare you for the love you will feel and the doubt and disappointments you will experience on this journey.
At the end of the day, we all want to raise our children to be successful and caring adults. Instead of worrying so much about that, though, I think we need to stay focused on the here and now. If our children go to bed feeling loved, we are doing our job. The days are not all going to be perfect, but that's life. Motherhood is certainly not all rainbows and butterflies. It's filled with storms and clouds. It's because of those storms that we are able to appreciate the rainbows. That is motherhood.