Hello, expectant mamas! Are you eagerly awaiting the arrival of your bundle of joy? Counting the days until you welcome your precious little one into the world? You certainly should be, because having a baby is a bona fide miracle, and an experience you will cherish for the rest of your life. Becoming a mother is a joy and a blessing, blah blah blah, and who the fuck are we kidding, it’s a game-changer in ways you could never have even imagined in your wildest dreams and worst nightmares.
New motherhood is awesome, but literally, like in the Merriam-Webster sense, is defined as “causing feelings of fear or wonder.” Don’t get me wrong: I love my daughter and I love being a mom, but those early days were rough, and I’m not afraid to think back on what I fondly remember as “my old life” and even miss it dearly on occasion. So please, I implore you, before you turn into a sleep-deprived zombie whose definition of a raging good time is a solo trip to Walgreens at midnight in your milk-stained pajamas, do the following things now while you still can.
1. Go to the Movies
In the theater. Go late, because you should savor the ability to stay up past 10 p.m. for as long as you can. Get popcorn, peanut M&Ms and a Diet Coke and revel in the joy that is seeing a movie on the big screen. Sadly, you may not be able to do this again for at least four years (or until the Frozen sequel comes out).
2. Embrace That Extra Hour of Daylight Saving Time
You know the joyous feeling you have every November when you can “fall back” and get an extra hour of sleep? Relish it now, because you will soon come to loathe daylight saving time with a passion you didn’t know you were capable of, because all it will mean is that you’ve got a screaming, grumpy baby who wakes up for the day at 4 a.m. and steadfastly refuses to adjust to the time change for a minimum of two weeks. You thought you were sleep-deprived before? Ha!
3. Pee by Yourself
“By yourself?” you gasp. “Is there any other way?” Well, I thought the same thing, until I had a kid. One morning recently, I was peeing and when I got up to wipe myself, my 4-year-old daughter raced into the bathroom and gave me a hug. I was literally mid-wipe. I don’t know of many moments that require more privacy than that one, but I’m here to tell you: Once you have a kid, going to the bathroom is no longer a solitary act. This includes pooping. You have been warned.
4. Sleep In on the Weekends
There is a fundamental truth about babies that I didn’t know until I had one; they do not know it’s the weekend. Babies rise at the same time (or earlier) every damn day, and they don’t give a crap that Saturday is the day you like to sleep till noon. No more lolling in bed reading the paper for you, Mom. This was a particularly grim discovery for me, an expert on not getting out of bed till 10:00 most weekend mornings, my biggest decision being where to go for brunch.
5. Run Errands Alone
Like No. 3, you may wonder what I even mean by this. But trust me, what was once a leisurely trip to the drug store to check out the latest makeup offerings, ogle at all the different kinds of lube, and do price comparisons on flat irons will become an exercise in torture when you’ve got a baby in tow. First off, you have to pack the diaper bag like you’re leaving on a monthlong trip because you don’t know what could happen out there. Then you have the delicate choreography that is getting the baby out of the car and into the stroller, without waking him or her up. Not to mention maneuvering said stroller up and down the aisles of the store, all the while saying a silent prayer that a diaper blowout doesn’t occur—and finally, getting home, patting yourself on the back for accomplishing it all, and then realizing you’ve forgotten the nipple cream.
6. Have Sex Whenever You Want
If you’re like me before I had a kid, getting up early is just something you don’t do unless you have a plane to catch. But when you have a baby, getting up at the crack of dawn is a new way of life. This pretty much rules out morning sex, unless you feel like setting your alarm for 4:45 a.m. to get funky. And you can forget about afternoon sex, because you’ll be spending every waking moment that your baby doesn’t need your undivided attention cleaning the house, washing out poop stains, wondering if you can fall asleep standing up, or attempting to take a shower. As for nighttime sex, well, as soon as your ravaged lady parts heal and you regain a fraction of your former sex drive and your baby starts to sleep through the night (or for more than a 45-minute stretch), it’ll come back. Just don’t count the weeks—it’s too depressing.
7. Be Selfish
Once you have a kid, it’s not all about you anymore. It’s hard to even process how much it’s not about you. It’s not that all women are horribly selfish before they have a kid; it’s simply a shit-ton easier to focus on yourself when you don’t have one. Your career, your hair, your eyebrow shape, your exercise plan, your vibrator, your friends—these are the things that are the main focus. And that part of your life is fabulous! But now, it’s all about what’s best for the kid. This is not a complaint; it’s just a reality. It’s a tough adjustment, but one you must make. You get used to it, after…oh, several years.
Moms-to-be, while I do not wish to scare the crap of you, I do want to prepare you for the reality that is motherhood. But as a good friend told me before I had a kid, when I was a bit on the fence about it and asked her if it was worth it: “You never knew you could love someone so much.” Girlfriend was dead-on. The days can be long and frustrating, and yes, you often miss your old life. But the love you feel for your kid outweighs any of that stuff. Their smiles, their laughs, their smells, the way they look when they’re sleeping, damn if it doesn’t make you want to have another one—against your better judgment.