As a smug married and not-yet-mother, I had it all figured out for when I became a mother.
Of course I did.
You know what happened of course – I did NOT have it all figured out; I still don’t, and probably never will. There are motherhood truths that I never imagined, and they are ever-evolving. The list does not end. At this very moment, here are my 10 truths.
1. I have so many more fears. It’s not just the fear of the big bad world out there, just waiting to grab my children by the neck. It is illnesses like bronchiolitis in a 6-week-old preemie. A bloody cut on the back of the head of a 2-year-old that doesn’t seem to ever want to stop bleeding. The broken heart of a 5-year-old whose best friend decided to be best friends with someone else. The fear that your child with special needs won’t fit into regular school. It’s all the things that come with parenting – navigating daily life and its challenges.
2. I doubt myself daily. Some days, I feel like Supermom. I tell myself I’ve got this and I believe it. The wily fingers of Doubt creep in nonetheless. Am I doing this right? Should I be sterner? Do I spend enough time/too much time with my kids? Am I feeding them right/depriving them too much? Am I saying too much/too little?
3. I have more patience than I thought possible. I’m the person who rolls her eyes at people who walk too slow or take too long at the checkout line. Patience is not my virtue. But I can answer 1,985 questions about Peppa Pig,
4. I have discovered true beauty in my surroundings. Cheesy as this is, it is true. When your children are not hurrying along as you do (read #3), and your eyes are not just focused on the road ahead, you tend to notice more. I’ve seen baby birds, pretty purple flowers, and a clear blue sky. It’s one of those blink-and-you-miss-it times.
5. My capacity for love far exceeded my expectations. When I was expecting my second child, I thought there was no way I could love him as much as I did my first. I was wrong. When the twins came along, I was pretty sure I couldn’t love them all the same. Wrong again. If it’s possible, I love all four even more than when I first became a mom. It is possible. To the point where I feel like my heart could burst.
6. I can dig deeper. When I think I can’t, I can and I do. My twins were premature. They were in NICU for two weeks. I stayed strong and focused, shuttling between the hospital and home, between my younger two and older kids. I slept little, worried a lot, but I didn’t crumble. I dug deep. When my husband travels and I solo parent, I always dread it. But we always come out unscathed and none the worse for wear. We parents have more in us than we think.
7. Children are fascinating and surprising. I fully expected my second child, the baby of the family for over two years, to be upset by the arrival of not one baby, but two. He proved me wrong. Not only did he accept them and his new position as big brother (and middle child), he embraced it. He loves his babies, as he calls them. Also, how kids sleep with 586 Hot Wheels is beyond me.
8. I need people. I want to be alone. Motherhood is a juxtaposition. When you have four children, you’re never alone. I crave me time. I want to be unneeded for an hour. When I have that hour, I miss my kids. I want to talk to someone, anyone. I want to be around people. I want someone to hold my hand or put their head on my shoulder. I want the warmth of little bodies. What is wrong with me? Nothing. Motherhood is just that. A juxtaposition. A complex, tangled thing.
9. Parenting challenges many relationships – with your spouse, your own parents, your in-laws, your friends. With each child that has come into our family, I’ve had some kind of fallout with my husband (we do work it out eventually). Over the years, my relationship with my in-laws has shifted, sometimes towards the good, other times not so much. And friends? My friendships have evolved. Some have slowly fizzled out. Others remain “Facebook friends.” I understand that. My priorities have shifted, and with four children ages 5 and under, the shift hasn’t been towards maintaining friendships.
10. Time goes by too quickly. Time moves too slowly. Time plays mind games with me. I look at my oldest child and wonder when his baby face morphed into big kid sharpness, hinting at the young man he’s growing into. I wonder when my 3-year-old’s vocabulary expanded, and I struggle to remember when he started stringing sentences together. And yet, the two weeks my twins spent in NICU felt like the longest time ever. Minutes ticking by, moving as slowly as their weight gain. Yet, here they are, six months old. We say the years are short and the days are long. I say, the days and years are both long and short. Embrace each day as it comes; that is all we can do.