When we brought our first home, I knew nothing about motherhood.
Zip. Zero. Zilch.
Alright, maybe not nothing, necessarily. I knew about how my mom was a mom to me. How my mother in law was a mother figure in my life. I had aunts who doted on me, friends of my mom who helped me grow and women in my life to whom I looked to for advice.
I knew how to be mothered but not how to be an actual mom. Man, did I have a lot to learn.
When I think back to when I was a new mom eleven years ago, I’m often struck by how much I’ve come to learn over the years. I think back to the nervous, overwhelmed, post partum depressed mom I was when I brought my bundle of joy home and I don’t recognize the mom I am today.
I’ve survived sleepless nights, fevers, buckets of vomit, and the end of Private Practice. I’ve endured play dates from hell, mean moms and know it all strangers with opinions. I’ve waged wars on bedtimes, bath times, nap times and toy clean up. I’ve figured out how to use a Baby Bjorn, how to properly restrain a child in a car and memorized the number to Poison Control. And then, I learned how to do it all over again with a second child in tow.
Somewhere along the way, I’ve become wiser. Stronger. Smarter. Sleepier. Savvier. What other S word can I use in this paragraph?
When did THAT happen, exactly? I have no idea.
But, in this moment, I can say what I know now is:
1. Laundry and dishes will never, ever go away. The age of seven does. Choose wisely.
2. Stepping on a Lego barefoot should be an acceptable form of torture for the US Military.
3. Post Partum Depression is a very real, very painful disease. I’m looking at you, Tom Cruise <eyebrow raise>.
4. Rainbow Loom elastics double nicely as hair accessories in a pinch. And they are just as good as the ouchless ones. Who knew?
5. Yoga pants are the new LBD. And I’m glad.
6. Moms should be allowed to enter a Mother Protection Program when their children are wronged or hurt.
7. The feeling of a tiny hiney against your soft mom belly in the middle of the night is the essence of cuddling.
8. Socks don’t have to match.
9. Meals don’t have to be complicated. Spaghetti-Os from a can with a side of sliced apples leads to conversations with your babies you don’t want to miss.
10. It doesn’t matter how old you are, Sesame Street is still the best show on television.
11. You will survive toddler tantrums.
12. No matter how much you are of something, your child will be the complete opposite.
13. You will survive time outs.
14. Family photos are called FAMILY photos for a reason. Get in them. Often. Because you will be gone someday and your children will need to see you.
15. You will survive the time your child completely melts down in the aisle of Target because you won’t buy them popcorn.
16. Coffee is good. Coffee with a good friend is better. Wine with a good friend is best.
17. The minute you walk into a friend’s house, your child will need a snack, have to poop and break a toy.
18. When you take away TV, the iPad, or video games, the punishment hurts you more than it hurts them.
19. Goldfish crackers are the currency of toddlers. You can diffuse almost any situation by saying, “Hey, do you want a snack?”
20. Your first child will forever be your experiment, your work in progress, your litmus test.
21. Nurses clean up blood, sputum, vomit and bile while wearing gloves. Moms skip gloves to save time.
22. When you hear your child proudly say, “Yep! That’s my mom”, your heart does a happy dance and you want to yell “Take that, Mean Moms! My kid thinks I’m alright”.
23. You won’t know how strong you are until you have to restrain your child during an immunization shot. Super human strength doesn’t begin to cover it.
24. You will survive potty training. By the skin of your teeth, but you will survive.
25. No one buys Dreft more than once.
26. Breast feeding is hard. Really hard. And if anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying.
27. You will never, ever understand New Math and school projects involving costumes have been known to make grown women cry.
28. Regarding the aforementioned costumes: Always pick a colonial character and do it early on. An oversized colonial costume will work three years running for Mozart, a minute man and an apothecary.
29. You will be physically incapable of getting a word in edgewise with a three year old.
30. Uninterrupted thoughts and continuous conversations are a thing of the past. But, don’t worry: other moms don’t realize how stupid you sound. They can’t hear what you are saying anyway because of their yappy kids.
31. Accidents happen. And they usually happen when the babysitter is on the way for your first grown up night out in months.
32. No one listens to you. Ever. Or at least until you’ve said it seven times.
33. The number on the thermometer doesn’t matter after the first child. With every subsequent child, Tylenol dosing will be measured based on the heat of the forehead.
34. Children are preprogrammed to vomit only at 2 am and on every inch of their bedsheets. And when the spare set of sheets is still wet in the washer.
35. Mom kisses heal.
36. You will wake up one day and realize that you sort of have a handle on the chaos around you. And that you are happy. Mostly. Except when you’ve asked someone to bring their laundry down seven times.
I’m not saying I know a lot and I’m not saying I won’t learn life changing lessons in the coming years. Far from it, actually. I mean, my kids will be driving someday. And dating. And going to live somewhere not in my house. Frankly, I need to stop talking about the coming years because imma get the vapors…..ahem.
In fact, I’m sure eleven more years from now, I will look at this list and laugh hysterically at what I DON’T know in this moment.
But, that’s okay.
Because, right now, I feel confident that I don’t suck as a mom nearly as much as I did when I started out. And, with a lifetime to go of being a mom, I feel hopeful that I’ll have it all figured out…. someday.