10 Things that Surprised Me About Motherhood
1. Diaper changes aren't that disgusting.
Okay, especially after the babies started eating solids, this kind of changed, but in general I am not disgusted by a diaper change. I might hate the smell, but cleaning up after them doesn't seem like much of a chore. I thought it would require great virtue and self-mastery every day, but it more comes second nature.
2. Baby Spitting Up On Me is Barely Worth Noticing
I notice it to wipe my clothes off and make sure I launder them, but it doesn't gross me out or make me feel weird. All bodily fluids are game in this weird world of motherhood.
3. Their cries do not annoy me.
Other people's babies crying would annoy me until I learned to tune it out. Fussing or complaining is still somewhat annoying, but the only response I have when my baby really cries is "Awwwww, let me help you." It is stressful from a natural instinct perspective, like it is very hard for me to relax when they are crying. But it is very different from annoyance; it's more of a stress response that says "I HAVE TO HELP RIGHT NOW"
4. You can have a theory on what's best, but it might not work for your family.
Some people co-sleep until they're baby is a toddler. Some people choose the crib from the beginning. Some people never give pacifiers. Some people wean their baby from a pacifier young, other people late. We chose to share the same room, but not bed with our girls until they turned six months old. I originally had wanted separate rooms from the start, but after they were born I realized I wanted to be much closer to them. Then after sharing a room for a while, I thought I might like them in there until they turned 1. Once they started waking up anytime I rolled over, I knew it was time for a change. Just as your family's needs change, you have to adapt to meet those needs. Before I had kids, I thought you just pick a parenting school of thought and run with it.
5. Single parents are some of the most majestic and brave people in the world.
Getting a break or getting some "me time" is so necessary. I wouldn't think anywhere near as highly of my life as I currently do if I did not have Ryan by my side. He is a great husband and father. Most days when he comes home, he tells me to go on a walk, or go write or take a nap and he catches up with his girls. Most mornings he is the one to get up with them early and gives them their first bottle, letting me sleep in. This time to me is precious and keeps my sanity. The idea that single parents, or heck, even just parents who have a less-helpful spouse successfully parent all day alone is mind-boggling. They are my heroes.
6. Babies are fun!
I used to think I wasn't a baby person. I used to think you had to wait for your baby to grow to a toddler to have fun with them, but it's sooooo not true! As a parent, every little thing your child learns to do will amaze you and be the source of great pride. I have tons of fun just singing to them or playing with them, or when they were really little, just snuggling them. Also, all other babies become instantly more interesting.
7. Community is key.
The moms, or the ones I know at least, are the most supportive and uplifting tribe of people. This is because you realize that there's nothing much to judge really. We all have bad days. We're all doing the best we can. And lastly, we're all in this together. That's why I will always do anything to help another mom. I will always be the person to encourage the woman who's embarrassed of her tantruming kid at the store. I will always speak positively about the size of anyone's family. & I will try not to hesitate when asking for help from other moms.
8. I am kind of obsessed with my children.
I knew I would love them but I did not know I would think so unspeakably high of them. I could, and often do, stare at them all day. It may take a while, but almost every night after I put them to bed, I say I miss them and look forward to seeing their smiling face in the morning. I often scroll through my old pictures of them right before I fall asleep. I call them "beautiful" and kiss them more times than I can count in a day. I didn't know this level existed, but I love it.
9. Comparing your child to another is a dark abyss.
It's hard not to compare, especially at first, because you're not sure what is normal or when your baby should reach certain milestones. But unless your pediatrician brings up a concern, you'll be much happier just letting your baby lead the way and taking joy in each new thing they do as it comes. I learned this in the first month and I was lucky to learn it so early. It has removed a lot of undue stress from my life.
10. Your heart grows bigger.
With so much dying to self, it's inevitable that you grow in virtue. Children make you a better and less selfish version of yourself. At times it is hard. It is very hard. But it is so good, and that makes it beautiful.