Y’all. I thought getting married changed my life. Then I had a baby and everything really changed. I think we all have some sort of vague idea of this because we have sisters, best friends, and neighbors who have kids, because we have younger siblings, because we babysat as teenagers…but the idea (even when we’re pregnant) of motherhood exists in a sort of hazy, dream-like state. Because the reality of caring for your own child is so beyond comprehension that there’s no way to prepare.
Here are the things I was most unprepared for:
1. You will be exhausted. Forever.
Because you’re waking up multiple times per night. And getting up for work. And cleaning the house. And NEVER, EVER resting. And even when you’re sleeping, you’re actually half-awake waiting for a cry, making sure they’re still breathing, listening to your husband snore, fuming about the teenagers down the street who are still playing soccer loudly outside after 10 p.m. ON A SCHOOL NIGHT. Speaking of which…
2. Noise makes you angrier than anything.
And you hear every. single. noise. Because the baby just went to sleep and maybe you were going to sit down and catch up on Scandal, but now you can’t because your neighbor just rang the doorbell. And then the UPS guy came to the wrong house. And the dogs barked at a shadow. And…what? Yep. There’s the baby.
3. You won’t actually sleep when the baby sleeps.
I really don’t know what people are talking about when they say, “Sleep when the baby sleeps and don’t worry about the dirty kitchen or the fact that you have nothing to wear except your prom dress or clothes stained with vomit and bright yellow poop.” When Zoey sleeps, I either stuff my face with food for the first time all day or rush around the house cleaning up. I can’t put that stuff off because a dirty house makes my anxiety skyrocket. And then I Hulk out.
4. You’ll cry.
When she cries. When she smiles. When you’re reading “I’ll Love You Forever.” When she gets hurt. When she won’t stop crying. When you haven’t slept in 42 hours. When your husband asks you what’s for dinner. When you get up in the middle of the night to stare at her sweet, sleeping face and she sighs in contentment and your heart swells because you never knew you could love like this.
5. You can’t have nice things.
This one would hurt if I didn’t love my daughter in that weirdly all-encompassing way that one does as a parent. Because I really, really, really love pretty clothes. And I really, really, really hate messing them up. But you will get poop and vomit and drool all over yourself — sometimes all at once — and it doesn’t come out when you’ve let it sit all day (and night), but you don’t always have time to change and do laundry. And what’s the point when, as soon as you do, the cycle starts all over again.
6. Everyone will judge you.
All of the time. For everything. No matter what you do, someone will always be there to tell you it’s wrong. Or how they did it. Or how, if they had kids, they would do it. There’s something about babies that makes people feel as though they have ownership. Breastfeeding? Great but you should do it for at least twelve years. Co-sleeping? No way! You will absolutely suffocate your child! Solid foods? Start them at such-and-such an age and no sooner/later. You wrote a blog about that mom life? That’s so messed up. And you will smile and nod politely until, finally, after a sleepless night and a fussy baby, you snap and punch them in the throat.
7. You will love your partner. But in a different way than you did before.
Women always talk about how the love they have for their spouse grows when they watch him love the baby. I didn’t get it right away. This one took some time, but now, when he gets up in the middle of the night so I don’t have to, or when I get home and she’s wearing a “Future Zombie Hunter” onesie and pink socks with bows, or when he reaches for her and says “mine,” I literally can’t even.
8. You will miss things.
And sometimes you’ll be bummed about it. Sure, you won’t always mind because you have your mini-me at home and, honestly, you’d normally rather spend time with him or her. But sometimes you want to go see Guardians of the Galaxy or go skiing or have a girl’s night. But you can’t. Because you don’t have a sitter or there’s not enough time or you’re too tired to move. And you’ll have to remind yourself that one day you’ll be able to do things for you again, but for now, you have to enjoy your little monster as much as possible.
9. Occasionally, you will be jealous of your friends without kids.
Because they get to do what they want, when they want. They get to sleep in and all night. They get to eat an entire meal sitting down. They get to have nice things and go nice places. They get to run to the store without carrying a diaper bag, unloading a stroller, and trying not to wake a sleeping baby.
But no matter what you feel or how tired or hungry or frustrated you are, the second she tucks her head into your neck, and holds onto your shirt, and falls asleep…
Words can’t do it justice.
And that mom life? It’s the best kind of life I’ve had.