Is there anyone out there who has ever thought to themselves, “Boy, motherhood is exactly what I thought it would be…”
No- motherhood is one of those life-altering changes where the moment it happens you know your life will never be the same again. Who you were prior to being a mom no longer exists, and hopefully you can look back on that time with some new perspective about how arrogant it was to think you had it all figured out ahead of time. After some reflection I got to thinking how wrong I was about many things I thought that motherhood would be and the subsequent reality check that followed.
Fantasy World: My child will be this cute as a button accessory I can dress up in adorable outfits and parade around proudly
Reality Check: I’m so dang tired I can barely get myself dressed most days. Not to mention that if an outfit lasts more than 3 hours without getting soaked in pee, poop or puke it’s an impressive feat.
Fantasy World: My child will be a perfectly behaved angel that will never talk back, hit or misbehave. If he did I will know exactly how to handle it.
Reality Check: Have you ever spent any length of time with a two year old? I mean really. Even after 10 years of teaching youngsters, nothing prepared me for negotiating tactics with a toddler. I might as well be a hostage negotiator (except that I think I’m the hostage…)
Fantasy World: My child will eat what’s on their plate.There are too many picky kids these days – if I expose him to a variety of foods he will have a wide range of tastes.
Reality Check: For the first six months of solid foods, I offered C almost every fruit and vegetable combination imaginable. Any hint of anything green or orange= fail. Any fruit = win. He was a good 18 months old before he would eat any veggies at all. And now he loves them! Sometimes you just have to let it all run it’s course
Fantasy World: I will really only lose sleep for the first couple months – maybe up to the first year. Then my child will sleep peacefully through the night and I will get my rest again.
Reality Check: BAH HA HA HA….Ha, hum, ha, ho really that’s a good one. I mean it almost brings tears to my eyes. Actually it does bring tears to my eyes – many times I have sat sobbing beside my child’s crib while softly singing “The Wheels on the Bus” because it is the only song that will make him be quiet. *Sob Enter toddlerhood – “I need water, blankie, favourite toy, random obscure thing he just decided he needed that was probably shoved under the couch never to be seen again, potty, hugs, prayers…” Shall I go on? Oh – then there’s nightmares, time changes, and offset schedules. It never ends. Not until at least the teenage years anyway. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news…
Fantasy World: Motherhood will be fun. I’ll get to enjoy my days with my baby out and about with my other mommy friends. It’s a paid year off! How great is that?
Reality Check: First of all – anyone who dares make the mistake of describing maternity leave as “time off” will make any mother either laugh you out of her house or punch you in the face. There is really only so much bouncing, singing, story-book reading, tickling, blanket time, tummy time – repeat, that one person can take. (Then you still have 23 hours and 45 minutes to go in your day!) Motherhood can be exhausting and you rarely get a break. Even at your job you were entitled to a lunch hour and two 15 minutes! Not so in motherhood- you are on call 24/7. You will know times have changed when you count going to the bathroom alone as your “me time.”
Fantasy World: I’ll still be able to go out with my friends and make time for myself to recharge. It’s importance to balance your own needs with your child’s. My child will not take over my whole life like those “other people” have let happen.
Reality Check: Gone are the carefree days of time alone or with friends away from my child. This time away from the house is often spent worrying about how my little guy is doing at home. Even at night when I know he’s asleep – I’m often too tired to really enjoy myself and let loose. The most joyful time of my day is when I reunite with my son after work. He’s so excited to see me – and that is where I find my inner peace.
Fantasy World: I will love my child.
Reality Check: I am capable of more love for one person than I ever thought humanly possible. When he says “I la (love) you mommy!” my heart leaps and bursts into a million inner fireworks. I love him more than myself. I would lay down my life for him in a heartbeat. When he hurts I hurt many times over. When he laughs I melt. I love him – yes. But that doesn’t even begin to describe it.
What “reality checks” did you have once you become a parent? I would love to hear your stories!