People have a lot to say about motherhood, and the way you gestate/birth/feed/raise your child. From the moment you announce that you’re expecting, you’re bombarded with often unsolicited, often unhelpful advice. Once the kid is born, it’s a never ending barrage of “cherish every moment” and “oh don’t you feel so blessed,” and other nuggets of bullshit people like to say to clueless, exhausted new mothers. These comments have a way of making new moms feel very guilty for not feeling #soblessed one hundred percent of the time. I guarantee you, no mother ever does. Underneath the veneer of groomed perfection, there is more to these statements.
Allow me to translate these overused bullshit nuggets for you.
1. “My kids bring me such joy.” “When I’ve successfully put them down for a nap, or when they finally fall asleep at the end of the day.”
Nothing brings me more joy than knowing I’ve got a few hours to myself to clean and finish my Pinterest projects (fine, to drink wine and binge watch “30 Rock” on Netflix).
2. “Breast is best.” “I know, right? Breasts really are the best. My boobs are flat out awesome.”
However you chose to feed your child, this fact remains the same. Breasts are the best. Just ask your partner. Why torture them with cracked nipples and bulging blisters that pop with blood? Plugged ducts? Mastitis? Fungal infections? Engorgement? Eek.
3. “We plan, God laughs.” “We plan, baby has a blowout, while toddler flushes keys down the toilet as he removes his pull-ups and relieves himself on the cat.”
4. “The best gift you can give your baby is a natural, med-free birth.” “Because nothing proves I’m superior to other women, whoops, I mean, says “I love you,” like spending 96 hours in painful active labor that results in a 4th degree perineal tear and permanent incontinence. I am a martyr for life.”
There is no better narrative you can hold over your child’s head to ensure that your future won’t include a nursing home. Rather, your child will build an extension on to their home to accommodate you and your heavy cross, so that you can correct their parenting choices on a daily basis. Such a gift.
5. “I can’t imagine leaving my child.” “I’d never leave my baby with a meth addicted prostitute on probation who dabbles in dog fighting and answers sketchy Craig’s list ads. But if Grandma offers, I’ll have a diaper bag packed and the kid dropped off faster than you can say ‘tequila shots and Beyoncé karaoke.’”
Mommy needs a night out, y’all.
6. “I love my postpartum body.” “I love it because I still look 5 months pregnant, so people offer me their seats and the lady at the Chinese place in the food court gives me extra samples.”
7. “I feed my child nothing but organic food.” “If by organic you mean the food being produced and distributed solely by my breasts. I feel like that’s as organic as it gets.”
Being a new mom is hard enough without the added stress of refining your diet for your breastfed baby. When a “well-meaning” acquaintance suggested I go soy-free, dairy-free, taste-free and organic for the best quality milk, the above was my response. (For the record, it’s not like I was eating gallons of M&Ms and washing them down with a jar of marshmallow spread, but let’s just say there was more than one night when I found myself stuffing my face with cold pizza and mint chip ice cream—at 2 a.m.)
The point is, shoot for healthy, but (assuming baby doesn’t have a reaction) eat whatever the fuck you want, because after growing a human being inside your body for nine months, then pushing said human out of the same orifice from whence it was created, you’ve fucking earned it.
8. “I don’t know who I was before I had kids.” “No really, I can’t remember.”
I was fun right? I feel like I had, how do you say, a social life? It’s so fuzzy. Tell me about this beautiful, elusive creature that was pre-pregnancy me. Was she carefree? Spontaneous? Did she live in the moment, unrestricted by a naptime schedule? Was her hair clean and shiny? Did she wear pants? That sounds nice. What day is it? Where am I? Is that poop or sweet potatoes on my sleeve?
9. “You never know your capacity for love until you’ve had a child.” “You never know your tolerance for other peoples bodily fluids in your mouth until you’ve had a child who’s been hit with the stomach bug and is leaking some kind of fluid out of every hole in their body as you try futilely to contain said fluid while choking back your own vomit.”
10. “It was all-consuming love at first sight.” Ok, this one is kind of true, but not in the way you think. I’ll be honest with you, I was not too keen on pulling my child straight out of my vagina and onto my bare chest without her first being wiped off. The thought of holding something that had been stewing in amniotic fluid for 9 months and covered in my blood from being pushed through a birth canal kind of made me want to vomit. Sorry, not sorry.
By the time I gave birth, I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was sleep. Of course, I loved my daughter, and I was glad she was finally here and no longer tearing my spine apart, but I didn’t fall in love right away. Rather, for me, this feeling came a few weeks later.
After weeks of no more than two consecutive hours of sleep at a time, an epic diaper rash that caused my daughter to scream incessantly, and the universally ubiquitous feeling of “what the hell have I done to my life?” it finally happened.
My daughter opened her eyes and for the first time really looked at me. Really saw me. Really recognized me. And that was it. I was a goner. The moment I saw her see me was the moment my heart burst from my chest and that all-consuming love rained down and I felt the full weight of it. It was love at her first sight. And it was fucking amazing.
That’s what I’m going to leave you with. The fucking amazing love that makes all the other shit worth it. Some days, motherhood will drag you through the mud and steamroll you and break every metaphorical bone in your body. But there is so much beauty and love and wonderment in creating, growing, and nurturing a human life.
And it really is all worth it.