Nearly every time I pop my head into the world of mom blogging, I see the same darn phrase over and over again.
“Nobody talks about (blank)” or “Nobody told me about (blank).”
I’ve always found these claims ridiculous.
Because, unless you’ve been living in a hole, you were told.
You just didn’t believe us.
Maybe you thought you’d do it better.
Maybe you thought we didn’t know what we were talking about.
Or maybe you tried really hard to embrace all the sage advice around you, only to realize later that you didn’t really get it — because crossing the threshold into parenthood is utterly indescribable. And this inability to grasp what’s coming continues through each phase — from babyhood to parenting adults. (So, don’t get cocky if you’ve got a 5-year-old.)
To put these claims to rest, I decided to get it down on paper, once and for all, so that no one can ever claim again that they weren’t told the whole truth about motherhood.
1. Babies need you to do everything for them, including wipe their behinds. And, once they come out, they never go away. Ever.
2. You know that commercial, where the young, wrinkle-free mom with her hair in a French twist gently rocks her baby to sleep? You’re only promised one of those magical nights. One. So, make it count.
3. There will be times when you’re crazy with sleep deprivation — whether it happens when your kid is a newborn, a toddler, a 10-year-old with the flu or a teenager who can’t stick to curfew. Remember this any time you’re tempted to judge an exhausted-looking mother with dark circles under her eyes. If you haven’t been there yet, your time is coming.
4. Feeding your baby is complicated and politicized. You will feel defensive about your choices. Just try not to be a jerk about it.
5. Getting your baby to sleep is complicated and politicized. You will feel defensive about your choices. Just try not to be a jerk about it.
6. One moment you’ll think you’ve got this parenting thing nailed. Then 10 minutes later you’ll decide you have no idea what you’re doing. This is normal.
7. Babies are boring. (So are toddlers, preschoolers and even elementary-school aged kids for that matter.)
8. You will, someday, find poop in a place it’s not supposed to be.
9. There is a learning curve. Just because that mother of four looks put together doesn’t mean she is. And, even if she is, she certainly wasn’t always that way.
10. There will be days when you’ll regret becoming a mother. We’re not supposed to admit this, but it happens to all of us. It’s OK and it doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids.
11. Likewise, sometimes you will be feel profoundly lonely, even if you have a partner by your side. Motherhood is different than fatherhood. It just is. You shared a body with these little people.
12. Stop buying white clothes. Just don’t do it. Trust me.
13. You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at the same time. When you prioritize caring for your child, your career, marriage, personal life, social life or hobbies, the others will suffer because something must give.
14. There will be days when you don’t recognize yourself. But don’t freak out about it — remember that this actually happens over and over again in life. It’s just more sudden this time.
15. Parenthood might make you love your partner even more. Or it might make you hate them. But most likely, it will do both.
16. It’s always easier to be silly. This doesn’t always seem true, but it is. Sometimes you’ll feel so tired you can’t even pick up your head. But if somehow you can summon the energy for a 10-minute game of “Monster” or a couple of semi-appropriate jokes, your family will be happier and your kids will be easier on you.
17. Your babies will grow up. The days will seem long, but the months will fly by. I’d never tell you to “enjoy it” or to “cherish every moment,” because we all know this advice falls on deaf ears. Feel whatever you’re feeling. The emotions will change on an hourly basis.
18. The progression of your children will take your breath away. Find at least one person, beyond your partner, who will share this with you. The friends who let you celebrate your kids — never thinking that you’re bragging — are priceless.
19. Your kids are going to mess up. This is not actually a reflection of you. Anyone who thinks it is isn’t worth your time.
20. You are in for life. You don’t stop being a parent when your kid turns 18. It’s a lifetime commitment, filled with everything lifetime commitments bring: frustration, boredom, tenderness, excitement, apprehension, beauty, love and everything in between. This is all part of the depth that comes from knowing someone, if you’re fortunate, from birth to middle age.
21. And, of course, like every grandmother at Target will tell you, don’t blink. It will all go by too fast.