Welcome To Motherhood
I was 26 when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. I was terrified. I was not old enough to be someone’s mom! I couldn’t remember the last time I held a baby. Babies were more like Monet paintings at that point in my life; they looked good from far away. I had anxiety, a lot of anxiety.
I decided if I was going to be a mom, I would be the best mom. I started talking to veteran moms and reading all about the joys of motherhood. However, I soon found myself wanting to talk to anyone but moms about my pregnancy. Between the plethora of labor horror stories and the “just wait until this stage” conversations, I began wondering if anyone even enjoyed being a mother.
I then turned to the parenting books that read like a user’s manual for owning and operating a tiny human. These books claimed as long as I followed their instructions, parenting would be a piece of cake.
I began parenthood terrified and misinformed.
No Experience Needed
I can remember leaving the hospital in shock. The medical staff knew I had no idea what I was doing, yet they still handed me a baby and sent my husband and I on our way. These people even smiled and waved to our little family of three as we left the parking lot.
My “mom resume” clearly showed I was not qualified. I had a record of killing plants, but I did keep a fish alive for 6 months in college. I had read books on parenting, but none of those left me feeling prepared. I had to keep a human alive with no supervision or training. No pressure, right?
Will My Baby Ever Sleep?
I quickly discovered babies have no sense of time. They are no-limit soldiers when it comes to not sleeping. They are oblivious to the dark circles under your eyes or the fact that you just put formula in your coffee instead of creamer.
You are stumbling around in the dark trying to change them, and then they poop in their new diaper before you can even finish putting it on them. Babies can make dressing a 6lb pound human feel like an Olympic sport.
I didn’t even know what tired was until I had kids. Funny enough, I naively believed having kids would make me a morning person. Nope. I was 100% wrong on that assumption.
Now I just have witnesses who can testify to my disdain of mornings. Currently, I am trying to figure out how much coffee it takes to wake up and be excited about the day? Apparently, 5 is not the correct amount.
Wait, Babies Can Sleep!
Luckily, over time you develop a rhythm. Before you know it, you are practically changing diapers in your sleep. One night you will wake up in a panic and realize you haven’t heard your baby cry.
As you rush into the nursery, you will witness what feels like a miracle; your baby has figured out how sleeping works. This is the moment moms remember for the rest of their lives. I can tell you what I was wearing, what time it was, and the current events that were happening around this monumental moment in time for all three of my kids. It’s that kind of moment!
I feel like no one adequately prepares parents for the number of conversations they will have about poop. Talking about your baby’s poop is totally normal in the parent twilight zone. Charting poop, describing poop, and waiting for your baby to poop are all part of a typical day as a parent. Without even blinking, you will sniff clothing to see if a stain is poop or chocolate. You will even know your baby’s “I’m pooping” facial expressions. Yes, that is actually a thing.
A large portion of your baby’s well visits will include discussing your baby’s poop while their pediatrician takes notes during your conversation about poop. It is unreal. While I have not checked apps currently available for moms, I’m sure there is an app for poop at this point.
Communicating With Your Baby
I had this crazy idea that I would just know what my baby wanted. We spent months together during my pregnancy. My baby knew what my heartbeat sounded like from within me. We were tight, weren’t we?
Unfortunately, this was not always the case. I really wish God would have equipped babies with basic sign language skills at birth. For example:
Thumbs up = I’m hungry.
Thumbs down = Something is going down (literally).
Rubbing eyes = I’m sleepy.
High five = Sorry I yelled at you all day. Mom, you are doing fantastic!
Speaking Your Baby’s
Jokes aside, you and your baby will be practically in sync before you know it. You will look at a clock and almost predict when your baby will be hungry or sleepy. You will know what brings your baby comfort when they are upset (e.g., security blanket, pacifier, swaddled and rocked).
When you don’t know why they are upset, you can do a mental checklist (e.g., diaper, hungry, sleepy, attention). If you reach the end of the list and still have no idea why they were crying, change their outfit and take them for a car ride. If they are going to cry, they might as well do it in style while jamming to lullabies in the car.
Working On Speech
In the infant stage, you wish your baby could tell you what they want. At the toddler stage, you wonder if your child has an off switch. Toddlers have a ton to say, but everything sounds the same. I left it inside sounds like an elephant died. Words that don’t even sound the same suddenly do.
But have no fear. While no one else may know what your child is saying, you will have some idea. I have successfully translated phrases that I am about 99% sure were not in English. I have also smiled and nodded with my fingers crossed that I didn’t just agree to something I will regret.
There are so many things I have told my kids that I never thought I would actually say to another human or out loud.
- Stop licking the door and the wall. Are you kidding me? That includes the fridge. Just stop licking things!
- Can you at least wait until we leave the store to start eating the groceries?
- Frogs go through a metamorphosis and lose their tails as tadpoles. That is not how Caitlyn Jenner became a girl; it is attached. I promise.
- Where are your pants? How long have you not been wearing pants? You have to wear pants in public! This is Target, not Walmart. Target has standards
- Why are you naked…again?
- I said you could pee on the bush outside. Do not pee on my indoor plants. There is a bathroom in this house.
- The toilet is not a wishing well like the one at the mall. Stopping throwing change into the toilet.
- Why are you sticky?
- Stop sticking things in your nose!
- We live in Louisiana. I’m sorry it doesn’t snow here but you cannot make it “snow” by using the salt shaker. Now the entire house feels like a sandy beach!
- At what point did that look like a good idea?
- The trash can is not your friend. Stop playing with it!
- Forced sharing is called stealing.
- Stop sticking food in your diaper! It is not a to-go bag you eat out of!!
- Why is your left shoe on the other side of the house? Did you hobble around the house? Did you get distracted while undressing?
- I know your brother is wearing a batting helmet but stop hitting him in the head with a metal bat.
- Don’t touch the Lysol container! I just wiped down the Lysol container with Lysol.
Information On Parenting
The parenting books out there will make it seem like parenting is a one size fits all technique. After all, it worked for their kids, and it is super easy. Anyone can do it.
The author of the book will claim their techniques will eliminate tantrums, have your child hanging on your every word, potty trained in 3 days, and reading at age 2. These books belong in one of two places: the comedy section or in my fireplace.
I know from experience, these books left me feeling inadequate when nothing they suggested worked. But I had to remind myself that these authors were not me. Their books were about their children, not mine.
I love watching my kids grow into the individuals God intended them to be. I cannot even express my gratitude for my three blessings. There is not a single soul on this Earth like any of them, including their own siblings. I often sit in awe of how three children from the same gene pool and living in the same house can be so different. Let me elaborate further.
“If someone jumped off a building, would you do it too?”
Have you ever heard this expression? Well this is how it would be at my house.
My middle child would be the person who is jumping off of the building. He would somehow manage to stand up after landing, give a thumbs up while grinning from ear to ear, and shout, “I’m okay!”
My oldest child would be the one standing there knowing it was a bad idea but was curious to see how it would turn out. 91 would already be dialed on his phone in case the situation needed further assistance.
My youngest child would be dressed for the occasion, holding a clipboard, and delegating tasks for the duration of the roof gathering. An itinerary would have been drawn up and handed out ahead of time.
Every kid is entirely different from the next. You can parent all of your kids the same, but they will still be their own entirely different person. What works for one child may not work for your others. You just love them all and pray often, very often.
I once heard a rumor that women’s bodies are made for pregnancy. I took this to literally mean that the day after I gave birth, my body would magically transform back into what it looked like pre-pregnancy. My body obviously didn’t get that memo, or I have a defective model. But seriously, I don’t think anyone’s body “magically bounces” back like you see on social media and television.
My body is not the only thing that has changed since becoming a mother. I used to get my hair cut and highlighted at expensive salons that offer you a warm robe, slippers, and massage your head with Tea Tree shampoo. At this point in my life, the thought of highlighting my hair every other month sounds exhausting. That would be one more thing I would have to keep up with. Presently, I just get my hair cut Fantastic Sams and use a coupon.
Once upon a time, I wore trendy name-brand clothes. Presently, I have yoga pants that I refer to as my nice pair. While they have never seen a yoga class, they are very versatile. I can dress them up for Target or dress them down for trips to the park.
My shoe collection has also evolved over the years. Flats that look straight out of a retirement home have replaced my once impressive collection of heels.
I’m so glad my husband met me when I was 20 years old and a size 2. I may not be what my “younger” self defined as fabulous, but I have my own mini fan club and a hot husband. Plus, I never lost my shining personality.
What You Need to Know
The big secret
Let me tell you a secret. Are you ready? No one really knows what they are doing. There are no instructions, and you just learn as you go via trial and error. It is okay to feel overwhelmed. The fact that you care is a good sign (or that is what I tell myself).
I refer to the moms who feel the need to be condescending as duck moms. Why? Ducks always look as if they are effortlessly floating on water, but just below the surface, they are paddling and kicking like crazy. What someone wants you to see on the surface is not always the whole picture.
You are not alone
If you feel stressed, try taking some time for yourself. Moms with multiple kids only look laid back because we have been worn down.
My first child had a tab at the ER from constantly injuring himself while I was tending to his brother, who had chronic ear infections. My youngest had 3 eye surgeries, resulting in sensory issues and developmental delays in her milestones (e.g., crawling, sitting up, walking).
Despite being a veteran mom, I still felt like I had no idea what I was doing. You are not alone if you feel like you are just winging it. We all are.
The good news is, your kids have no idea if you are doing this whole parenting thing “right.” They just know you love them, and you are there for them when they need you. You don’t have to have all of the answers. You don’t have to be perfect! Just show up and be you!
Thanks for stopping by.