Congratulations on being a new mom! Isn't it a cherished miracle? And yet the most harrowing and painstaking thing you've ever done? Aren't you more tired and overwhelmed than you ever thought possible while simultaneously feeling convinced your heart will explode from the crazy love? With this extreme emotional flux, you need all the tools you can get, Mama. Here are a few tidbits of unconventionally awesome mommy advice I never got but wish I had. You're welcome.
1. Grease is the word. Imagine you've just spent 73 minutes performing your baby's personal sleep regime. You swaddled while shushing, ball-bounced with minimal eye contact, then promptly chased that with some light rocking and intermittent nursing. Once your sweet angel fell asleep, you held him so still that your arms fell asleep too, at which point you clutched him for forty solid minutes to seal the deal. Holding your breath, you gingerly got up and made the basinet transfer without a hitch. Now, already tasting the Sauvignon Blanc, you tiptoe toward the door, carefully pulling it closed behind you when it squeaks like a violently dying seagull. The baby wails awake and you're forced to start the protracted rigamarole from the top. Don't let this nightmare happen to you. WD-40 the shit out of every door, cabinet and closet in your entire house. Leave no hinge un-greased. I meant to do this for weeks (damn you, baby brain!) and if I was lucky enough for a squeak not to wake my son, it still sent my already compromised nervous system into panicky DEFCON 1. I would silently scream a long, drawn out dirty expletive as I prayed to the Gods of Baby Sleep and Mommy Sanity.
(Bonus tip: while you're at it, locate pesky floor squeaks and make a mental note of their whereabouts for future avoidance.)
2. Poop: There it is. That fancy diaper pail you registered for is so effective, it's easy to forget the stench it toils rigorously to squelch. You'll step away from said diaper pail (changing the baby downstairs, say) and in your exhausted haste, throw that stinky dipe in the kitchen trash thinking nothing of it. Or you'll think about it for .00002 seconds and assume you'll be taking the trash out later that day. News flash: For years to come, zero garbage in your life will be taken out in a timely manner. Consequently, for at least another eighteen days when you open that kitchen bin, you'll be smacked in the face with poop stench. You won't be able to take action tout de suite because you'll either have a baby in your arms, it'll be three in the morning, or you'll have two measly minutes alone to stuff sustenance in your pie hole. Do yourself a huge favor: carry that stink bomb into the nursery and let that pricey receptacle earn its keep.
3. Get a move on. Congratulations on adding one miraculous thing to your life that also adds 18,375 more moving parts. No doubt things are gonna go off the rails for a (long) while. So when things go well? You need to celebrate those victories. Even the tiny ones warrant some big time kudos, mama. Like when you manage to make a cup of coffee and drink even one hot sip, or when you figure our how to keep the babe on your boob while picking up your cellphone with your toes. Like when you (FINALLY) get that baby to nap, or find five minutes to wash yourself. When no one is around to pat you on the back, take matters into your own hands and celebrate that shit, lady. Get yourself a signature power move (like a fist pump but loads more satisfying) that you can perform when stuff goes GREAT, and proceed to use it as often as possible. Feel free to steal mine: From a standing position, spread your legs apart and lunge one knee to the side. Now bend forward at the waist and start an imaginary lawn mower. (The old-timey kind with a pull cord.) Keep doing this repeatedly until you feel like a badass-Earth-mother-goddess-warrior, because you ARE.
4. Cheer Up, Sleepy Jean (or whatever your name is). A few words about baby sleep. EVERYONE will ask you how it's going. Tread carefully. If, out of mere excitement and disbelief, you brag that your son slept eleven hours straight the night before, you will:
a.) make people with insomniac babies hate you
b.) jinx it and promptly encounter a doozy of a sleep regression, and/or
c.) bore your childless friends to tears
If you happen to complain about being up all night tending to your fussy, wakeful baby, you will:
a.) make people with sleep-trained babies pity/judge you
b.) receive an onslaught of unsolicited advice, and/or
c.) bore your childless friends to tears
Best to keep your mouth shut on all fronts. Especially when talking to your childless friends (those smug, well-rested bastards).
5. The New Abnormal. True story: for a few hours this week, I thought my kid had bashed into his crib bars overnight. He had a brownish spot on his head that made me feel like a bad mother. Upon closer inspection, I licked my finger and swiped it on his bruise only to discover it was actually dried coffee. Not only was I incredibly relieved, it tasted delicious. All this to say: prepare yourself for the unexpected. Like cleaning poop off a tiny penis while your father-in-law watches. Or calling your loving husband an asshole to his face. Or feeling so weary over the thought of brushing your teeth that you actually choose gum. You'll literally forget the last time you showered and suddenly not care so much when you find crusty spit-up on your person. And you'll marvel at how swiftly a big, gummy smile will crack your heart open and bring you to your knees.
6. Blowout of proportion. Two words, Mama. Two heavenly words: Baby Oxiclean.
You can read more by Jolie on her blog Joeycake.