Nothing as complicated as a baby comes without an instruction manual.
Alarm clocks come with instruction manuals, and no one is going to die if you screw up the alarm clock setting or fail to authorize the clock to allow for multiple snooze requests.
Sooo different with babies. Many people gave me sage advice before the birth of my son. And like most new moms, I also read books and took classes to try to learn as much as possible before my baby was born. Then I gave birth and returned home with a little baby who had needs and wants and couldn't speak the King's English to help his mother understand what he wanted or needed.
But within days, some things I figured out and some I sure as hell didn't. But here are the things I wish I had known about being a mom before I became one:
You'll realize how many hours of child care you could have purchased for each pair of designer heels in your closet that you'll never wear again because your feet got bigger during pregnancy.
Apparently the extra pregnancy weight squishes your arches down so your feet elongate. As a result, none of the shoes you owned before the birth of your child will ever fit your feet again. Such a waste of money! Who knew? And that wasn't the only body part that changed shape.
Your boobs will go from normal to oh-my-god-huge and then they will feel like they hardened into concrete.
The doctor will recommend you place hot facecloths on your breasts to alleviate the "mastitis." You will recommend no one have a baby, ever again. And you'll look forward to the day he can eat real food.
Your standards for housekeeping will plummet!
"Sleep when the baby sleeps," they all say, but as a working mother who also cleaned her own home, I started cleaning the minute my baby fell asleep, so there was no nap for Momma. Unfortunately, the vacuum woke my baby so many times that I finally gave up on the dust-free environment. If the sweet child is ever diagnosed with a dust allergy, it will be my fault.
You will appreciate the ridiculous joy of being able to shower, every day.
If you're lucky, that is. Every other day is OK, too, if the baby won't sleep long enough for you to step into the shower to wash the spit-up and urine off yourself. Those half-hour showers to erase the angst of the work day that you used to enjoy on a regular basis are long over.
You will be able to justify going anywhere in ugly-mom sweats. Without shame!
Leaving the house for a four-block walk with the new baby to meet your best friend for coffee on a rainy day is such a feat of "new mom amazingness" that you will not care (and should not care) what the hell you are wearing. No underwear? No problem. No make-up? No problem. I am woman, hear me roar! Or don't hear me. I don't care. I'm doing the best I can. I don't care what I look like.
Six hours of uninterrupted sleep will make you feel like you won the lottery.
Actually, any amount of sleep will make you feel that way. Any amount.
You'll realize which friends are most important to you when a get-together will require hiring a sitter and putting on real clothes.
Hiring a sitter and putting on real clothes is a significant effort for a new mom. You will only do that for your really good friends. And when you meet up with those friends, you will spend more time checking how much time you have until you have to leave than you did when you were in high school with a curfew. When your baby is a teenager, you will hope he checks as often. You can only hope!
Just when you start to relax about what your baby needs in the stage he is in, he enters a new stage.
So you will feel abandoned on the side of the knowledge highway again, like a hitchhiker with her thumb out when no cars are passing by. But then you will realize that you can figure this out again, like you did before. And like you will again. And again, because you're a mom now.
So what do I wish I knew before I became a mom? I wish I knew these things:
You will never be the same after you have a child. Not physically. Not emotionally.
You will never be the center of your own universe, ever again. Someone more important will be.
And as a mom, I wouldn't have it any other way.