Becoming a mother for the first time is one of the most amazing and scary “firsts” a woman will have in her lifetime. When you find out you’re pregnant, the natural thing to do is to seek out advice from any willing resource; friends with kids, your own mom, Facebook groups and articles on Baby Center.
Although you might find a few nuggets of truth and wisdom in there, many of it will hardly relate to the real-life experiences you are about to face.
People gladly share the gory details of their delivery room drama, advice on your “birth plan”, or anything sure to provide adequate shock and awe.
How will any of this truly benefit you as you face this journey ahead? Very little most likely.
So I have compiled 10 truths about motherhood that are important to know as you take your first baby steps and pave the way for the next baby steps coming your way.
1. When you are miserably pregnant, be grateful
I’ll never forget the time I walked by my mother’s office (we worked together at the time) when I was 9 months pregnant and ready to “pop”. It was the middle of July, I had elephant feet and my fingers were about to turn my wedding ring into the cork of a champagne bottle. As I waddled down the hallway I said aloud “I’m SO miserable! I just want her to come already!”
My mom rolled her eyes and said: “Don’t worry dear, the easy part is almost over”. I wanted to punch her. Unfortunately, she was right.
Little did I know that those last few moments of misery were also my last few moments of true freedom. I was going here and there to Doctor appointments, studying words like Braxton Hicks, kick counting, water retention, and NSTs, thinking that once the baby is here, I can finally have a moment to RELAX!
Little did I know that any trials I faced during those difficult 40 weeks were nothing compared to what lay ahead. I do not say this to scare you, but rather to help you enjoy these moments.
When you feel like that child wants to break free and is stretching your belly to max capacity, be grateful that it is still safely tucked inside your womb and not running out in front of traffic. When you feel her kicking up into your ribs, be grateful it’s not your shins or another child at daycare whose mom will be pissed.
When he keeps you up at night rolling around in there, remember that at least you can deal with it lying in the comfort of your bed. Later he’ll keep you up and have you running to make a bottle, all the while screaming his little head off and peeing on the couch.
Oh yes….as miserable as you are, be grateful!
2. Women are Supreme physical beings
Take a moment and realize what an amazing masterpiece of God’s artwork women (that’s you!) really are. Not only do we carry and nourish life in our own bodies for 40 weeks, but you cannot imagine the amount of stamina being a mommy is going to require.
Mothers truly should wear stretch marks and stripes with pride, for they are the markings of a warrior.
During those 40 weeks, our bodies go through the most remarkable changes to sustain this life and after the birth, it continues to change to meet the needs of your baby. You’ll be surprised at your ability to survive with little sleep and sometimes even without the dinner you forget to eat. Not to mention the delivery itself.
It doesn’t matter if you give birth naturally and med-free, via C-Section, or hooked up to as many epidurals as they can pump into you, either way, you are going to be AMAZING!
There was a point when my daughter was 6 months old (I was still breastfeeding) and I realized I had literally kept her alive by my body alone for over a year. I didn’t even plan it, my body just did what it was designed to do. Be proud of what you are capable of.
3. Every subsequent child is different
Maybe this isn’t the first time you’ve been pregnant, but rather your family is still growing. Well, good luck sister. Do you think you have it all figured out? WRONG!
Each child is incredibly different. Even the pregnancy is likely to be different. Each child’s wants, needs, favorite toy, favorite color, favorite sippy cup will all be different. What comforted one will turn the other into the Hulk and what upsets the firstborn will be the next child’s favorite thing.
Every time you think you have it figured out, put on your seat belt because you are about to go for a ride!
4. Children have internal alarms ready to go off at any second
Seriously, I swear by this. At the end of the night, the moment I sit down all hell breaks loose. Suddenly my 3-year-old has to pee, or the baby gets her foot stuck in between the bars in the crib, or my 5-year-old decides she absolutely MUST tell me what happened at kindergarten today.
The more you want the peace and quiet, the more it alludes you. Or heaven forbid you want to steal away a few moments with your hubby, suddenly they think it’s time for a party and come rushing in on a Congo line singing.
You cannot make this level of crazy up, I’m positive it’s hardwired in their little brains.
5. You will lose friends; you will make some amazing ones
Yes, I live vicariously through my friends on Facebook, but who doesn’t? I see their fancy cars and their trips to Cancun at a moment’s notice or the big new home built on a hill and wonder what it must be like. I also look sometimes and think “when did that person move?” or “who is this new guy she’s with?” or “when was the last time we spoke?”
The reality is that when your friends don’t have kids, suddenly your lives may no longer align.
Yes, you might get together for the occasional glass of wine or get invited to a bachelorette party here and there, but truthfully these relationships become more difficult to sustain. This happens for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes this happens because a friend is struggling to grow her own family and this difficulty drives a wedge between the friendship. Neither of you mean for it to happen, but it can. You want to be there for her, but it’s difficult to understand what she is going through unless you’ve been there yourself.
Other times it’s because it’s hard to relate to a friend whose biggest concern is getting home in time after work to catch the 2-hour season premiere of The Bachelor.
A friend who doesn’t understand why you can’t grab happy hour on a whim without planning it out a week in advance may get tired of sending the invite.
Instead, you join mommy Facebook groups to vent to those that are living and breathing motherhood right alongside you and laugh at your toddler memes or poop stories.
Suddenly you realize who your neighbors are when you are pushing the stroller around the block for the first time and they come down to see the baby and suddenly have so much to tell you about.
Where the great parks are, which teenagers live in the neighborhood for babysitting options, or how to make your grass greener (not sure why this suddenly matters, but it seems to).
These are the people that you find yourself leaning on a lot. You may even reconnect with a friend that had children before you, who you lost touch with after her first child was born and suddenly she wasn’t “fun” anymore.
6. You will put on a pair of “mom jeans” and finally get it
Oh yes, the high-waisted, solid blue, boot cut denim jeans. You will wear them and you will love them. It will keep in your pooch, hide your belly fat, slim your behind and legs and they will be practical.
This coupled with a nursing bra and you’ll be ready to hit the town!
Cringe now, and accept it later. Just be glad that putting on a pair of these means you’ve finally moved on from the large belly band and maternity jeans….even if your kid happens to be 2 when you make this transition.
7. You will become a re-purposing machine
Of course the obvious is the hand-me-down clothing and toys that will inevitably pass from one child to the next. However, you will start to find additional uses for the craziest of things.
I find myself keeping the little cardboard piece at the end of the toilet paper or paper towel roll because I know my girls would love to be pirates and use them as their scopes. I pick up random little things like fake flowers or ribbons from wedding invitations and throw them in their craft bucket.
FORMULA CONTAINERS…I repeat….FORMULA CONTAINERS!!!!
These are the most amazing must-haves around the house. They hold my ponytails and headbands along with cotton balls in the bathroom. Each puzzle that comes as a gift to my kiddos eventually ends up in one of these amazing little plastic boxes as the cardboard case gets easily destroyed.
We keep their sidewalk chalk, dress up mini dolls, bathtub toys and oh so much more in these things! Stock up and later you’ll be so happy you kept them!
Another favorite is glass jars that used to hold jam or salsa, they now hold markers, crayons, toothbrushes, and candy around my house.
8. Your standard of “clean” becomes very low; Your tolerance for “noise” becomes very high
There’s not much to add to this one……. just get used to doing a quick 1,2 with your hair and calling it good or a finger swipe of spit across your child’s face to take off the crumbles of cracker from their afternoon snack before heading out the door.
And while you’re out in public, there’s a good chance that someone else will notice your kid is crying long before you do. You’ll notice the look on a stranger’s face long before you hear your child bawling simply because you’ve gotten too used to it and tuned them out.
“Oh, that’s my kid screaming? Sorry dude, I was humming and thinking about the spaghetti bake I’m going to make tonight….”
9. You will love your spouse more when you see him with your child
It true. There is just something about seeing the man you love, loving on the child you created. Sometimes I find myself adoring his facial characteristics even more because I can see them in my children. The best is when they don’t know you’re watching and you look at him, looking at them with equal love and admiration.
Side Note: this may lead to having more children, so be aware!
10. You’ll understand your own mother more than ever before
All those times I thought my mother didn’t know me, didn’t understand me, didn’t see me…..I was wrong. I just didn’t see her.
I didn’t see all the times she law in bed awake wondering about how the next day, week, months were going to go. I didn’t see all the coffee she drank to stay awake after a long night up with me or my siblings. I didn’t see all the times she let me eat the last cookie when maybe she was hoping one would be saved for her. I didn’t see the times she left a meeting early to get me to dance class on time.
I didn’t see her then, but I do now.
I see her every time I look in the mirror, every time I put on one of those bras I used to see on the floor and laugh at how large they were. I see her every time I dab on perfume for a rare night out with my husband while prepping the babysitter for the chaos that lay ahead for her. I see her every time I sing a lullaby to the girls as they drift off to sleep. I see her now.
As you enter into this crazy journey of motherhood I hope these bits help you to realize that you are not alone.
You will inevitably become your own worst critic and you will wonder how it can seem that every other mom has it put together so much better than you do….but they don’t.
We are all climbing up this mountain together trying to take what we have learned from others and from ourselves to be the best mothers that we can be. We are all amazing and this journey is the greatest gift that God can give us.
Welcome to the chaos and welcome to the beauty. As you lose yourself, remember that what you do is the most important job in the world.
This post originally appeared on Raising Strong Women