I still remember rocking my 6 week old baby girl to sleep. It was 4am in the morning in an East Village one bedroom apartment. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure the standard size of a New York apartment is one bedroom.
Anyway, all my mom friends, told me that from the moment my baby was born, I’d be overwhelmed by emotions. Completely in love. There would be tears a plentiful. I’d cry from happiness, sadness, brokenness and everything in between. But I hadn’t. It had been 6 weeks and I didn’t shed a tear once.
Until that night.
It was the first time that I looked at my daughter and realized… I really love you. I have never loved anything the way that I love you. And I cried. I shed my first tear whilst staring at my daughter’s face at 4am.
But reflecting on that moment, I felt pretty weirded out for 6 weeks. Because, no one ever told me that it’s okay to not be ‘head over heels’ and ‘overcome with emotions’ when you become a mom.
So there it is, my first thing that I wished I knew before coming a mom
- It may not be ‘love at first sight’
Remember, when you have a baby, you’re meeting them for the very first time. Yes, they may have been inside of you for nine-ish months, but that doesn’t mean you know them. So, just like meeting anyone else for the first time, you can have a platitude of feelings. Maybe it’s love at first sight. Maybe you feel indifferent. Maybe you don’t even like them when you first meet, and that is A-OK. Building any meaningful and deep relationship, requires time, dedication and effort. So don’t be weirded out when on day one you don’t feel exactly like you expected.
2. You’ll never feel the same way about your body
First off, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I actually love and respect my body a lot more than I did before having kids. I’m a little more floppy and softer, but at the same time, I’m in awe of what my body has accomplished. It has grown, delivered and fed 3 healthy kids. This may not be your view, but I guarantee that you will feel differently about your body after becoming a parent. For example, it’s hard to find my boobs sexy after I have just pumped 4 ounces of milk and my nipples look weird. At the same time, I find it incredible that my nipples are these perfect suction devices. I am more comfortable in my skin than I ever was, because I respect my body for its function. My body’s purpose now extends beyond the ‘must look good naked’ territory.
3. Trust your gut
There is a whole industry working day and night to make you second guess every decision you make. Why? Because your insecurity allows companies to make billions of dollars.
“Don’t use plastic bottles.”
“Monitor your child at all times with camera, heat-sensors and motion detectors.”
“This mattress will definitely kill your baby at night.”
“Use the 3-step sleep routine, otherwise they’ll will be bad sleepers forever.”
“Let your baby cry.”
“If you let your baby cry they will become a serial killer.”
All to say, I’ve spent way too much time googling and second guessing myself, when at the end of the day, I just needed to let my instinct guide myself. You know your kid, you know what feels right.
4. If you don’t own your schedule, someone else will…
Believe me, the moment you become a mom, there is something to do at all times. Every. Single. Second.
A quick load of laundry, playing with your kids, cleaning up, making dinner, folding clothes, heating up a bottle, doing dishes, reorganizing that crazy drawer (you know which one I’m talking about), the list goes on.
If you fall into that trap, it means you will never have time for yourself. Let me be clear, self-care is not selfish. I’d argue that taking time for yourself is the single most important thing you can do as a mom.
So how do you do it? You block your schedule for ‘you time’. Tell your co-parent that Thursday mornings from 8-10am are for you, to do you. Or Sunday evenings. Or Wednesday afternoons. Whatever. Think about it, if you do not schedule time for you, who will?
5. Life is too short to drop hints and hope for the best
Knowing how to communicate and advocate for your needs is important at any life stage, but when you become a parent it’s vital. Because so much additional stuff lands on both of your plates, it’s easy for resentment to build. Passive aggressive remarks like “oh… you’re leaving again? What a surprise…” and hints “I haven’t had “me-time” for weeks, because there has been so much work around the house…” don’t work. If anything, they create an environment in which no one feels seen, validated or acknowledged. Instead, describe the situation and clearly state your ask. For example: “I get overwhelmed in the evening. Can you do the dishes and I’ll do bath time?”
6. There is no perfect parent (or parenting)
Just let go of the notion of being a perfect parent. I thought I could be it (I tried…), but let me tell you, they don’t exist. You will lose your shit and scream. You will lack the energy to hold a boundary that you should. You will say something mean to your co-parent in front of your kids. You will give the wrong answer when your kid asks a tough question. You will laugh when you shouldn’t. Honestly, it’s a win when you’re giving a solid effort 50% of the time.
You will likely not even parent all your kids the same way, because every kid may need something slightly different. All to say, your kid does not need you to be perfect, they need you to be real. So when you mess up, talk about it. Apologize. Explain that you’ve changed your mind and why. Mend the bond.
7. Sex will change
I know, I know. Just hold your horses. It definitely doesn’t have to be bad, or non-existent, but know that even with the best intentions, your sex-life will change. First off, if you had a vaginal birth, it may feel different. Heck, it felt different after every single birth for me. Either way, make sure you communicate your needs with your partner.
Secondly, you have to be intentional. There is no such thing as casual, easy, go-with-the-flow sex that you had pre-kids. They’re either right there, sleeping or about to wake up. All to say, it may be less spontaneous and more planned. Thirdly, some nights you’re exhausted and your partner is really excited. Other nights it’s the other way around. When you have sex, one of you may not be that in to it, and that is ok. Because let’s be real, if you reserve sex only for when both of you are really excited, it may quickly turn into an 3 times a year kinda thing.
8. You grow as much as your kids do
Matresence is the process of becoming a mother. Just like adolescence, it’s similar in terms of development, change and growth. You will unlock a whole other dimension of who you are and what you find important. Your kids may grow in more obvious ways, but becoming a mom is a steep learning curve that you grow into. It’s almost like after each year and each child, you’re being promoted to a more senior role (without the salary increase though… so there is that). Motherhood also forces self-growth. Since becoming a mom I’ve acquired yoda-like patience (yes, even with NYC Uber drivers), built empathy, worked through some childhood trauma and found a level of respect for my own mom that I didn’t think was humanly possible. You will look differently at relationships, friends and what you prioritize in life.
9. Don’t believe the movies