A lot of people have asked what mommyhood has been like. Those who have gone before me and want to pass on the torch, those who are up to bat next and are curious, and those who are currently in the trenches with me, wanting to compare stories. If you really want to know, having a baby is like falling in love with the quarterback/head-cheerleader against your will. You'll become infatuated and lose sleep, while they'll use you 110% and catch amnesia to all of your most loving moments together, yet provide you enough overwhelming joy to keep you coming back for more. Sounds awful, I know. It's really not, but it is quite demanding, as I'm sure you've figured out by now. The truth is, motherhood is different for every woman depending on her perspective. But, to be clear, there are some universal truths. So let's just get them out of the way:
1. You'll spend your first month or two staring at them and checking to see if they're still alive. (They can be super stealth when they want to be - the buggers don't blink)
2. Your first few weeks home, anything may make you cry - world news, rom coms, an untied shoelace - anything.
3. About this whole sleep thing. You'll still get to sleep, however you'll lose the luxury of deep REM sleep. And for a long while, you'll kind of be in a watchdog mode, always listening for their cry...and then there's the tantrum toddler years..and then the fighting bedtime years..and then the teenage missing curfew years - you know what? the next 18 years are a wash. Sleep all you can now.
4. You'll never realize how stupid you can sound, until you have a child and that baby talk starts flowing.
5. At feeding time, first thing's first - line up all your essentials in hand's reach: phone, remote, laptop - because the little sucker will finally fall asleep awkwardly in your arms, where these items are just 2 inches out of reach. And Netflix will ask you if you're still there.
6. Your new joys will be the regularity of their body fluids, even if that means projecting onto you. Because a pooping baby is a happy baby.
7. You'll learn to move with the grace of a ninja, in efforts to not wake them.
8. You know those chicks with the amazing IG accounts, sporting 6-pack selfies and feeding their kid with wind swept hair a week after giving birth? Yeah that may not be you. You may very well spend the majority of your days in spit-up covered t-shirts, hair up in a bun, trying to recall your last shower. #pureexcuses #welcomebackfriedfoods #napwhentheynap [Just kidding, you may actually get super motivated to get fit again]
9. You will learn to drive again - your stroller that is. Except instead of looking for on-ramps, exits, and car pool lanes, you'll now look for elevators, automatic doors, and family parking. (Why every ttc subway station doesn't have an elevator is beyond me - come on T.O. get with it!) - shout out @UPPAbaby for being one of the top models out there for urban living.
10. Your new cute bundle of joy may unintentionally tear you and your significant other apart, temporarily. Just breathe, you'll get past it. [True Story: just as my husband and I were getting into yet our billionth spat, our little guy farted. Seeing that face smiling up at us pretty much squashed everything. I want to say that a flatulent baby could prevent a lot of divorces.]
11. Breast milk - let me just say that producing juice from your own body, and putting it into another body, is possibly the most difficult thing yet rewarding thing anybody can attempt to do. [*Note: not all attempts are successful. Don't beat yourself up too much]
12. [Cue seriously emotional music] What they say is true, you will never know a love like this one. Not that it's necessarily deeper than what you may have experienced in the past or for your significant other - but it is a truly different kind of love; Unconditional and all encompassing.
Anyway, I digress. Those are a few hard facts that unite all mothers. However, motherhood is also a different experience for every one of us. To begin with, we're not all listening to our ticking eggs. Yes we know they're there, and yes we're weary, but some of us just aren't ready. It's a difficult concept for people to grasp sometimes, I know. Family, friends, Facebook - first comes marriage, then comes carriage. (By the way, asking a woman when she's planning on having kids is like emotional roulette - you never know what baggage you're unpacking. So stop asking. Just don't do it!) It's hard to find time to fit the bucket list items in between, as our generation seems to lean toward these days. I made every excuse in the book, from 'establishing career' to 'need to travel the world' first. I think I felt the need to be an appropriately experienced, well rounded adult, with all my ducks in a row, so that when I finally produced a little human, he/she would have a suitable role model. Needless to say, sometimes things don't work out the way we envision, and when I not so purposely became blessed with this little one, I wasn't entirely ready.
However I knew what I didn't want to put up with, versus what I was actually afraid of. It wasn't the sleepless nights, or colic horror stories (though I do thank the baby God's that this one doesn't have that), or even the whole giving birth to a 16 pound bowling ball thing. All of those hurdles I knew I could jump with a bit of patience and prayer (and drugs). It was this other thing, this tiny voice deep down inside of me. I was scared of the unconditional love factor that I knew would come.
You see, the thing with motherhood, is that it's an impossible love. It's 'a piece of your heart outside of your body'. They grow within you and then they're no longer yours to protect. You'll send them out the door one day, and hope that they're accepted out there, not bullied; that they never face prejudice, or judgement for the colour of their skin or for their beliefs. You dread watching them get hurt, and fight all mama bear instinct to protect them, but instead teach them how to get back up. You brace yourself for the first time they push you away, utter the words 'I hate you', or the day you both lose your understanding with one another and break your sacred bond. You hope they don't inherit your procrastinating, lazy, [insert flaw here] ways, but instead become an amazing human being. And above all, you pray that they're never at the wrong place at the wrong time, because to lose them before they lose you, is to destroy you.
Obviously as mothers we don't focus on these things. The joys outweigh the fears by far. The love transforms you. And the satisfaction of celebrating their milestones swells you with pride. However, from the moment they are born, that tiny voice doesn't go away. In effect, having a child is placing an unconditional love and commitment upon you, which if you're not ready for, can be quite intimidating. But as all mothers do - as all parents do for that matter - we embrace the love, let our hearts melt, and rise to the occasion.