I always thought that becoming a mom would simply be a wonderful part of my life… until I did.
I guess, like anything in life, we all have certain ideas or expectations of what it will be like to have our own children. We are excited to find out that we are pregnant and quickly begin to educate ourselves on how to have a healthy pregnancy, how the baby is growing, and how to set up the perfect nursery. Finally, the 9-month count-down is over and our precious little one arrives! Only then do we begin to realize what we have signed up for is not what we expected. Here are seven things that came as a surprise to me along with earning the title “mom”.
I did not expect lack of sleep to become the norm.
Sure everyone knows that newborns eat around the clock at first and may need some late night attending for a while. But once they start eating a few solids and with the right sleep training method, you will be back to your normal 8 hours of sleep every night. Right?
I think I realized that this idea was a farce when my daughter turned 1 year and was still getting up at least 1-2 times per night. I had read everything I could find about training your child to sleep through the night, and finally just accepted that none of these authors had ever met my kid. Between teething and the fact that she would awake whenever she wet her diaper, left me awaking in the morning without every getting into a deep REM sleep.
Then we had our second, it became a game of musical beds in which every night I tried to get some shut eye between night feedings with the newborn and calming the toddler back to sleep after a diaper change. We are now expecting our 3rd and with my 2 ½ year old daughter and 1 year old son still awaking between 2-4 times per night, I am convinced that 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is something of the past.
I did not expect to miss going to work.
While I always enjoyed working, I did imagine how nice it would be to stay at home with our children. So when this finally became a reality, I was surprised by how much I missed going to work. It became more apparent to me how much of my identity was wrapped up in my profession. I had worked hard to earn a master’s of science and pass the national board exam. At work my patients appreciated me, my efforts were recognized, my expertise was respected and I got a paycheck! Now at home with my little ones, instead of using my education and professional skill, I am changing diapers and trying to tame tantrums. My efforts given 24/7 commonly go unnoticed and no one gives me a paycheck at the end of the week.
I did not expect keeping up with the house to become so much more difficult.
Before kids keeping up with the house meant spending a couple of hours on a Saturday to change sheets, clean a bathroom, wash some laundry and vacuum. Do this and the place looked pretty spotless the majority of the time. How did this become so much more difficult just because there are little humans running around? Their clothes are so little, it should not change that amount of laundry THAT much.
The kitchen counter gets cluttered with bottles, breast pump parts, coffee I did not get a chance to drink, and a highchair tray a mess with food. The toys get strewn across the living room, dining room, hallway, bedrooms,… is there any part of the house where the toys don’t go? Every widow and mirror has tiny handprints and snot on it. Oh, and those tiny people’s clothes probably wouldn’t be so much laundry if they didn’t require a 3 different outfits in a day! Forget changing the sheets unless a little person throws up because they got sick and wanted to snuggle in your bed in the middle of the night. I’ll have to hire a sitter just so I can have a moment to clean the bathroom.
I did not expect to feel so stuck in the house.
Feed. Play. Diaper Change. Sleep. Repeat every 3 hours. The continual cycle of a newborn’s demands make it difficult to do anything outside the home for more than 1 hour. And don’t be late with getting back to the house for naptime, because if they fall asleep in the car on the way back, they’ll never fall asleep in their crib. With my first, if this happened I would just sit in the car with her and let her nap there. Now with my second, the moment we park the car, my toddler wakes the younger one.
In addition to this mid-day commitment to be home so your child can nap in their crib, there is an anxiety that comes along with leaving the house with little ones. First consider how much it takes you to get yourself looking presentable after a night of little sleep. Then try to correlate that with the timing of making sure every little human is fed, has a clean diaper or has been to the bathroom and is dressed. Don’t leave the house without a diaper bag packed with all essentials, including sippy cups, a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, a binkie and a snack. All this so you can go to the grocery store.
I did not expect to be so bored.
I can recite “Goodnight Moon” by heart. I can build the Duplo playhouse in 2 minutes. I want to play and have meaningful interactions with my little ones, and I try to, but when playing child games with them I quickly get bored.
In addition the monotony of the day-to-day, preparing breakfast, cleaning up breakfast, changing diapers, dressing little bodies, making beds, doing dishes, folding laundry, preparing lunch, cleaning up lunch, putting little ones down for naps, going pee-pee on the potty… etc., you get the idea, it all can be very mindless work. But work none the less that won’t get done unless you do it.
I did not expect to feel so lonely.
If I am never left alone, I always have duckling number 1 and number 2 following close behind, why do I sometimes feel so lonely? I feel this one is interconnected with missing work and feeling stuck in the house. Adult and peer-to-peer interaction is less and more difficult to come by. Becoming a parent can also mean losing some older friends and making new ones. You may not feel as close with your new mommy friends because building friendships takes time, which currently is a resource that seems short in supply.
I did not expect to love them so much.
From that first moment when they placed my little girl in my arms, there was such an overwhelming swelling in my heart. I was in awe of how much I loved her. I never knew that I could have so much love for a little person until that moment.
With all the ups and downs of becoming a mommy to little ones, the unexpected changes that occur in our social, professional and personal aspects of our lives, deep beyond all this is the love we have for them. We love them more than we ever expected.