Some of my closest friends are on their way to being mothers. And I wanted to say welcome!
Welcome to labor – the most intense, crazy, scientifically-rad thing that your body may ever do. After, you will never look at women the same. Following the birth of my first, I passed other women in the hallway and we nodded to each other in silent acknowledgement, like Jedis who could sense The Force within each other.
Welcome to sleepless nights. Even when your baby sleeps peacefully, you won’t. You’ll be constantly feeling them to see if they are breathing. You’ll watch them sleep like the stalker you that are.
Welcome to nursing boobs, when your chest becomes huge and engorged (and really, not in a good way). When every shirt in the dirty laundry now has milk rings … and some of the clean ones do, too. Welcome to anxiety, to the never-ceasing worrying that comes along with caring about someone else as much as you will your child. You will learn to multitask your fretting by Googling symptoms while nursing at 2 a.m., or reading a book on baby stages while pushing a stroller.
Welcome to a house that is furnished in plastic. You may start out as the parents that say, “My kids don’t need that many toys. We only need a few.” But grandparents happen. And so do birthdays and Christmases. Pretty soon, a sea of creepy toys that shout obnoxious statements will litter every surface of your house. It will look like Toys”R”Us has thrown up on your living room. You’ll wake in the middle of the night to a strange buzzing – the sound that a dying plaything-battery makes. You will search desperately to make that sound stop! But you won’t find it.
Welcome to making new friends. Friendships change with age, and also with becoming a parent. Your eyes will brim with tears when you meet a stranger in the checkout line who is also covered in spit-up and compliments you on having two of the same shoes on. Finding another mother who can relate to everything you are going through is a light in the darkness of judgment. These other mothers will become your partners. You will hear them shout at your children as if they were their own, and you will know true friendship.
Welcome to the time of your life – though you’ll be exhausted, dirty and constantly filled with concern, these are the most precious moments. These are the days you will eventually look back on with fondness, and remember the smell of a newborn, the softness of their skin, how they slept in your arms, and the radiant color of their shit. Every moment that you feel like you cannot survive (and you will have them), and you are questioning your mothering abilities, remember this: last week I turned to my 3-year-old, in a moment of absolute exasperation, and asked her flat-out, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Sometimes, dear friends, the question just needs to be asked.