By Christine Knight
I've been a mom for three and a half years now, to a particularly wonderful and intense little girl. This crazy ride called parenthood is different for us all, but there are elements of the journey we all share together. Here are six non-disputable truths about motherhood:
1. You'll always be tired.
Even once your baby starts sleeping through the night, you'll still be tired. True, the brain-destroying exhaustion will (thankfully) leave you and you'll emerge from the newborn fog at some point during your baby's first year. But don't be fooled; the relentless feeling of being tired doesn't completely go away -- no matter how many nights of sleep you start getting. Personally, I think it's the demanding nature of motherhood that never lets up (no matter how old your kids get!). Right now, my day starts super early with an energized kid who yells, "Mommy, get up!" and peels back my eyelids before the sun comes up. It continues with toilet training, cajoling my daughter to eat her food, close monitoring on the playground and disciplining when she gets out of hand. Caffeine is your best friend from here on out.
2. You'll be lonely.
Isn't it amazing how it's possible to never have a minute alone and yet to be heart-achingly lonely at the same time? There's something about being around a little creature demanding everything you can give all day long that makes you desperate for adult company. While it can be easier to stay indoors with a baby and even a toddler (particularly in the winter), the best cure is to get out of the house. Even if it's just you and the baby, head to a cafe or library. Better yet, join a mother's group! These ladies will save your life -- I know mine did.
3. Your body will droop.
After having a really muscular body from being obsessed with exercise my whole life, I didn't expect to get the sagging effect after the baby weight was gone. Everything kind of slid south and just stayed there, lumpy and jiggly. Thanks to some helpful clothes, I'm concealing the worst of this from the general public. I probably look pretty slim to most people, but the truth is all of my muscle tone has vanished, probably never to be seen again if this exercise-preventing exhaustion keeps up.
4. Your kid will embarrass you.
There will be meltdowns (at all ages). Ignoring instructions, willfulness, kicking and screaming on the sidewalk -- all in a single outing and probably somewhere that you desperately need the opposite behavior. At some point, you'll stop freaking out when your kid has a breakdown in public. Why? Well, you'll notice that everyone else's kid is having them too and you'll become relatively immune to the embarrassment.
5. You'll feel guilty.
My days are full of feeling guilty over my parenting. In a typical day, I feel guilty over: giving my daughter toast for breakfast and not fruit; letting her watch too much TV in the mornings; snapping at her; not playing with her when she asks me to; checking my social media networks instead of giving her attention; needing to take a break by myself; wanting bedtime to come sooner so I can watch Downton Abbey; telling her to "shhhhhh"; being too strict and yelling. I literally lie in bed at night and go over all the ways my parenting fell short that day and resolve to be better the next day. I'm sure all this guilt isn't healthy, but it does show how intensely I love my child and how I want to do the best for her, even when I fail miserably.
6. It will become the new normal.
There will come a time when these things cease to be such a big deal. As your child grows into a delightful little person who enchants you with their smiles, floors you with their big heart and dissolves you into a puddle of goop every time they plant a giant wet kiss on your face, it somehow matters less that you're bone tired and a bit flabby. Even when you find yourself frustrated, exhausted and desperate for bedtime, you'll end up scrolling back over photos of the now sleeping child and exclaim to your partner that they're the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. And that, my friends, is parenthood.
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This piece was originally published by Christine Knight on Mommy Nearest. Christine is a writer, editor and marketing strategist. Her blog, Adventure, Baby!, is a guide to navigating the world and parenthood. Follow her travel, food and parenting mishaps over Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.