Eleven years ago, I was blindsided by the truths that become glaringly apparent the day I joined The Mommyhood Club. And, as these truths became more evident, I sometimes felt like the other moms who already knew these basic truths were giggling at me next to their lockers and whispering behind my back. They were saying, "Look at that poor schmuck... aww, she just found out she's never going to sleep again ever," and "Bwahahaha, she thinks crunches will bring her abs back... silly, silly girl."
Admittedly, I joined The Club grossly misinformed, but I cannot be the only one who was shocked and appalled to find out that toddlers watch you pee. That's what leads me to the list of things they -- the moms snickering by the lockers -- didn't tell you before you got knocked up.
This list has been compiled over eleven years of toddler standoffs, missing Scout uniforms, 6 million miles of driving in a People Mover and 962 sleepless nights. The truths I've compiled here are the little known, "gonna catch you with your pants down if you don't know them ahead of time" tidbits.
(You're welcome in advance.)
1. There is not a single mother on this planet that knows what she's doing. Not one. Every single mother makes it up as she goes along and hopes for the best. No lie. And, if a mom claims to know what she's doing, she's lying and you should not be friends with her. Exception to this rule: Mom Bloggers (ahem).
2. You will sleep again, but it will never be the same.
For the rest of your natural life, you will sleep with one ear to your door and you will be able to discern the nighttime goings on in your house better than any CIA agent with night vision goggles. With both eyes closed and in REM sleep, you will know that your son is sleepwalking and that your daughter needs Tylenol. It's an amazing phenomenon, really.
3. Sick leave does NOT come with the job.
You will sign permission forms with your head in the toilet, you will plan PTA parties doped up on pain killers after oral surgery and you will have a husband who asks you to get the dry cleaning when you are laying on the floor half dead with the flu. The management does NOT care one iota about your health. Best to come to terms with this one now.
4. Make friends with moms who understand and do it as soon as your cherub gets here.
Troll the halls of the Mother Baby Unit if you have to but find that one mom who lets you say anything about your kids and won't judge you. Make sure to ask her if she knows what she is doing during the interview. If she says yes, drop her like a hot potato. If she says "Hells, NO!" grab her, hold on to her and drink wine with her at every chance you get. And call her from the closet on the bad days. If she keeps answering, she's a friend for life.
5. Sex will become, at times, a chore.
Just another thing on the long list of to do things that never, ever ends. Sex will be sandwiched on the list with things like "Make 25 Hello Kitty Themed Class Favors" and "Empty The Dishwasher." Squeeze it in for obvious reasons and because it's worth it to reconnect with your partner. If it's a choice between "Have Sex" or "Fold Laundry"... remember that your pile of laundry will look unchanged in the morning, the following day and next Tuesday. But your relationship will not resemble itself very quickly if it's not tended to. And, it's okay if you think about the Hello Kitty favors during... hey, we're moms, we multitask.
6. When you bring your cherub home from the hospital, be prepared: You might not like him/her at first.
Of course you will love them and you will think the miracle of life is amazing and all that happy horsepuckey, but those first few days are just plain trying. In one fell swoop, this bundle comes into your world and single handedly ruins your ability to quickly run into a Dunkin' Donuts for a cup of coffee. Everything becomes harder and it's their fault, sort of. You will find your groove eventually, but, it's okay to admit that you don't like your new life. And if you say it out loud, you'll become one of the gals I'll totally be friends with.
7. You become a liar.
You lie about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, The Elf on The Shelf and all things magic. You will craft intricate lies to explain how Santa gets into your house, how the giant rodent leaves candy all over the family room and why the Elf on The Shelf didn't go back to the North Pole for the fourth day in a row. You will become adept at boldfaced lying to your children yet expecting total honesty from them. If I were you, I'd start making a list of all the places the Elf can hide in your house. You'll thank me.
8. Every single product on the market can hurt your child if you believe the hype.
From BPAs to GMOs to free range and everything in between, everyone has an opinion. Throw in pesticides, lead, high fructose corn syrup and Dr. Oz and you have one crazy, confusing arena in which to raise healthy kids. Do the best that you can, save the judgment of others and refer to item #1 above. No one knows what they are talking about and only you know what's right for your family. And if people judge you because you occasionally eat bright orange mac and cheese with a chaser of red Kool Aid, so be it.
9. All forms of Lycra, push-up and Spanx become a necessary part of your wardrobe. Undergarments after childbirth will henceforth be chosen based on words like "sturdy" and "support" rather than "lacy" and "sexy." Case closed. Further, yoga pants will become an integral part of your wardrobe and words like "elastic waistband" will cross your lips. You will begin to loathe anything that has a button front and you will no longer mock those who wear leggings because you yourself will be rocking them. Embrace the new wardrobe choices as a chance to shop for the body that grew humans and wear those Spanx with pride.
10. You will be good at the job of mothering the minute you meet your cherub and you won't screw them up too terribly.
You will make mistakes and you will have hours where you are fully convinced your child will need extensive therapy to fix what you've done wrong. Just do the best that you can with the talents you have and you will be fine. And, if your kids don't like how you are doing your job, when they grow up, they can screw up their own kids any way they'd like. For now, own the phrase "I'm the Mommy and that's why."
Of course, this is not an all encompassing, all-inclusive list. I'm sure I've left out truths or have forgotten to mention something but one thing is for sure: This mom will never be snickering at my locker behind your back. Nope. I'll grab you by the arm, sit down and say, "Oh, honey, we've got to talk." And then I'll pour you a giant glass of wine while you digest the truth.