I was one of those women who wasn’t sure I wanted children. In fact, until I got a positive (surprise!) pregnancy test, I didn’t feel like I had much in the way of “maternal instincts.” But, like many, the second that plus sign showed up, I wanted that 4-weeks-gestation-poppy-seed-sized baby more than anything in the world. In the five years since she was first placed in my arms, I have learned SO much. About her, about marriage after children, about myself—and many of those lessons were things I never even considered.
1. Never say never. From the pre-baby utterances of “I’ll never be maternal” to “I’ll never let my kid sleep in my bed” to “I’ll never bribe my child to behave”…everything I said I’d never be or do…yeah. I’ve done it. EVERY.SINGLE.THING. But you know what? We’re happy, we’re healthy, and we’re having fun.
2. The weirdest things will happen with your body. I know. You’re all thinking “Hello! You grew a person! OF COURSE things are different!” But I’m not talking about the baby weight (still got it) or stretch marks (still thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t get them.) I’m talking about the WEIRD things. Pre-Lily, my hair was stick straight. Since my pregnancy (I suppose from hormonal changes?), my hair is wavy. I can spray a little salt spray in it and have beach waves that look like I spent hours on them. (Pre-baby, I would have spent those hours—only to be disappointed when they fell out a few minutes after I was done.)
3. It’s REALLY hard not to compare your child to others. But you have to try not to. There will always be children on your child’s level—just like there will always be children below (and way above) where your child is developmentally. That being said, it is still really difficult as a parent NOT to play the comparison game. I do it. You do it. We all do it. You just have to try not to let it consume you! Pre-baby, I would’ve never realized kids didn’t do things all at the same time: “I don’t know! Don’t kids crawl when they’re, like, 4 months old or something?”
4. You’ll get totally used to gross stuff. “Mommy! Here, take this booger!” Oh, you don’t have a tissue? No problem. You’ll just grab that sucker with your finger and wipe it on something (if I had to guess, probably your own shirt or pants leg). I actually grocery shopped one time, when Lily was about 4 months old, with dried projectile formula vomit down my back. I had no idea it was there. When I got home and saw it in the mirror, I just said, “Hunh,” and changed shirts. The pre-baby me would’ve been throwing up and MORTIFIED that I had gone out that way.
5. Your priorities will change. Pre-baby, I would spend hours cleaning or shopping (for myself, no less!) or running around town doing nothing of real importance. Now, I’m much more of a homebody. I’ll drop what I’m doing in a second (cleaning, etc) to spend time with JP and Lily (swimming, playing, whatever). I can count on one hand how many things I’ve bought for myself in the last 3 months. The last trip to Target was $186—a video game for Daddy, a whole slew of things for Lily, and a can of bug spray for myself (so I can finish painting the deck, of course)! But you know what? It doesn’t bother me. I love my family and adore spoiling them and spending time with them.
6. You will truly understand love. That phrase “A mother understands what it’s like to have part of your heart outside of your body” will make more sense than you ever thought it could.