I thought I had this mom thing covered. When I was pregnant everyone told me the first year was going to be hard. After watching my older siblings raise their brood for many years while I was in college I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and somewhere in the back of my mind I carried a small amount of pride thinking that I had a decent idea of how hard it was going to be.
I was wrong. My pride was misplaced.
I am waving my white flag shouting you win! You win parents who never claim to have everything together. You win single mom’s who have somehow managed to raise children who are not juvenile delinquents. You win sleep deprived zombie mother dragging her protesting toddler through the Harris Teeter freezer section. You win mothers who wear your yoga pants like a badge of honor.
I have seen the light. There are things I have done. Choices I have made that are irrevocable. There’s no turning back now.
I have eaten leftover yogurt off of Ian’s face. Let me repeat that. I have eaten food off of someone else’s face???? When faced with the choice of (a)sleeping in vomit covered clothing tonight and washing the sheets tomorrow or (b)postponing an exhausted crawl into bed so I could put clean clothing on I’ve done the unspeakable. I’ve forgotten what day it was. I’ve forgotten what thought I was thinking. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have all of my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed. I’ve forgotten what exactly that phrase even means. Who has time for idioms anyway???
Last week I broke down to a very wise friend of mine. She is a single mom and I have a massive amount of respect for her. I asked her how she does it. How do you give 100% all the time? She shared her secret with me and it turns out there is no secret. You accept your new life, embrace the new way of doing things and try not to stumble on the things that may not have turned out exactly how you had them planned. You do the best you can with what you’ve got and hand the rest over to God.
A year ago if someone had asked me what I was expecting I would have said, “Oh, I know it’s going to be hard.” “Of course it’s going to be worth it!“. I’m both delighted and slightly frazzled by how true those statements are.
It’s going to be hard:
- You’re probably going to lose some friends in the madness. Not everyone is interested in jumping on your roller coaster and it can feel pretty lonely. But you’re probably going to gain some friends in the frenzy because there are a lot of people who don’t mind the change even if they don’t have kids.
- You’re not going to feel great about your outward appearance. I mean you’ll be happy but recharging your batteries is going to be really low on the To Do list. Fortunately, you’re going to feel great about how strong you have been!
(Oh you can deadlift 200lbs? Well I’ve gone 8.5 months without sleep or makeup. BAM!)
- You might need a veteran from this war zone to tell you it’s going to be alright. You hear a lot of advice from a lot of people. None of it is going to matter until you’re crying into a dirty sock you thought was a dish towel …you thought was a tissue. That’s when you are desperately going to need a seasoned mom to tell you this is all temporary.
(I find that even vomit can seem cute when it’s temporary but I don’t recommend sleeping in it if at all possible)
- You aren’t going to like your husband. There I said it. I’m a terrible wife. In all honesty he is probably going to try every bit as hard as you are but you had a nine month head start on adjusting to this little human being part of your life. (Give him time and try to keep your head above water.)
- Mommy Brain. It’s a real affliction. If we are being honest it should be called “the baby usurped 80% of my working memory”. But the latter is shorter and easier to remember and EASY TO REMEMBER is the key phrase here. It’s like a switch gets flipped and suddenly you forget everything and start eating food off of other people’s faces. You forget your brother’s wife’s name. You forget the name of those purple things that grow on those green things that make wine. (I say good morning to my coworkers multiple times most mornings.)
- Nursing. I did it for a year. Does that negate the thing I said about not liking my husband? By the end of your breast-feeding days you’re going to feel like you’ve spent more time topless than a tribal woman captured in National Geographic. Yes they are still yours but no matter how you try they are still going to look like milk cartons in your mind.
- What you consider relevant is going to change drastically. You are going to hate that for a while until you realize that the entire year you spent watching Brittany Spears spiral into crazy town and then rise from the ashes maybe wasn’t the most productive use of your time anyway.
- This year you become a caregiver, a shoulder to cry on, a personal life coach, a bodyguard and an adult most all the time whether you feel up to the challenge or not. I loved Ian immediately!!! But I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. The first year you are going to work really hard to start building a relationship with a complete stranger who speaks an entirely different language. You are his person and he can’t survive without you. Enough said?
It’s going to be worth it.
Is it really worth it?
Maybe if I rephrase the question the answer will be clearer.
Is falling in love really worth it?
Beacuse that’s exactly what it is. It’s falling in love!!! It’s flying and crashing and crying and laughing. Sometimes when Ian is screaming and crying I feel like Martha Stewart’s publicist doing damage control and hoping a carrot soufflé will make the bad dream go away. There are days I want to crawl under my covers and pretend I’m not a mom, but like Jack Twist I’m a goner. It’s too late. I’ve fallen in love and I don’t know how to quit my little dude. For every effort I put in, I get unmeasurable returns.
Scientifically I can’t measure it. Mathematically I can’t come up with the formula. Psychologically I can’t determine the behavioral measures but he thinks I’m cool and I think he’s awesome too. I think William Shakespeare says it best.
“Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs.”
Yes it’s hard. Yes it’s worth it. No I have not actually made my child a soufflé.
On to year two!