If I could pick one word that described my outlook on parenting before becoming a mother for the first time, “clueless” would be that word. I had a nine month old niece at the time I got pregnant, and while changing her diapers every once in a while was fun, so was giving her back to her mom when she cried.
I underestimated a lot of things while prepping and planning for a family, including how long it would take me to get pregnant. But that was just the beginning. Here’s what else I underestimated about motherhood…
1. What “tired” really means. Have you ever known exhaustion like the first two years of your kid’s life? And then add a kid, or two. I don’t even know if I’d call it exhaustion anymore. I mean, I’m f*cking delirious!
Before kids, “tired” was the morning after a wild night out, or pulling an all-nighter, cramming for an exam. I nursed myself back to my spunky, energetic self by sleeping 12-14 hours straight. I’ve never, ever seen that kind of sleep since having kids, and never will.
I wish I could just be “tired.”
2. Having “nice things.” Look, I don’t know if I’ve ever had nice things, well actually I do know, and I HAVEN’T! I met my husband in college and before I ever got a job that paid decent, we were engaged and knocked up three months after we said “I do.” So if I wasn’t paying for a wedding, or saving for baby, maybe I could have bought myself something “nice.”
Now that our kids have arrived, DAMN they’re expensive! And the few things I have bought that I thought were nice have been turned into a urinating target, a vomit catcher, or a surface to wipe Hot Cheetos fingers on.
Maybe in ten years.
3. The power of backwash. Before I had kids, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the eerie similarity present between drinking from the same juice container as my son and a mommy bird feeding her baby bird its breakfast.
But I now refuse to share a beverage with any human under the age of four. Not because the little varmints carry more germs than rodents, but because their ability to suck and swallow through a straw at an acceptable rate is non-existent. Like, I will literally stay parched and dehydrated for however many hours necessary before sharing, or consuming any drink that my two year old is regurgitating his last bit of PB&J into with a side of grape chunks. No thanks!
4. The term “lazy days.” Lounging on the couch with my honey bunny, wrapped up in a blanket together while watching 5 movies back to back with make-out sessions in between was a reality once. It feels like a lifetime ago and yes, sometimes I cry about it.
The term “lazy days” now, means staying home, because I’m too lazy to deal with my children in public. It’s the day we all stay in our pajamas, the kids run around screaming and wrestling (as usual), and my husband and I share glances throughout the day sharing each others’ pain of exhaustion. Then we order pizza and eat our feelings.
5. The power of a cardboard box. Do I really need to explain? I’m embarrassingly pained when filling out the birthday invitations each year, knowing the amount of junk we are about to receive will either be played with once then abandoned, or be donated on my next Good Will haul.
Invest in cardboard, people. It’s the best jungle gym, race-car, fort, and imaginary anything for the first three years of life. I used to actually store things in them before having kids. What a waste! They could have been birthday gifts!
6. The act of “self -care.” Before kids, my manicures and pedicures were done every two weeks directly on my way home from work. I didn’t have to race home to cook dinner and get first grade homework done.
Long, hot showers were a thing back then too. Well, showering in general was a thing. Ah, I miss it. I should really try to work shaving back in as a habit. My husband would appreciate that, I’m sure.
One Saturday every three months were my $130 (with tip) cut and color days. Let’s just say these days, I’m really milking the ombre look. Now, Saturdays are reserved for soccer practice and budgeting our finances where my husband reiterates that we still can’t afford my “pre-baby self-care.”
“But maybe next year, honey,” he says.
7. What it meant to be “inconvenienced.” It was inconvenient when my college courses clashed with my work schedule. It was inconvenient when I had to take a longer route to my boyfriend’s dorm because of the construction on Hwy 1. And it was inconvenient when I was forced to watch my sister’s dog the one weekend I wanted to go party with friends in San Diego.
What I didn’t know was just how inconvenienced my life would feel once the babes popped out.
Now, to be inconvenienced is to have stitches in your vagina that refuses to heal, because there’s no such thing as “rest” for a new mom. Inconvenienced when you don’t eat dinner until 11:00pm, because your child wanted to eat yours instead of theirs. It’s when your world revolves around the needs of another human being, and you come second, or third, or fourth…or ever?
…well, you get the idea.