Luke wasn’t very old at all when I figured out that there’s much more to being a mom than idealistic images we see on TV and in the movies, or those nostalgic reminiscences shared by women whose children are now grown up and out of the house. To be clear, this post is not a rant, because I’m the first to admit that the majority of motherhood is immeasurably, ineffably wonderful. Like the way it feels when Luke runs up to me and hugs me for no reason. Or the few minutes after he falls asleep in my arms for his naps that I watch his angelic little face rest. His giggles make me feel joyous. His sweet, soft skin feels heavenly. I could go on and on, so, before I unveil my observations about the not-so-glorious parts: YES. Being a mom is fantastic.
But there’s so much that nobody tells you. For instance…
1. Kids have a zillion toys, DVDs, CDs, and, nowadays, websites that each has its own songs. Nobody tells you that these songs will run on an endless loop in your brain. Today, my mental soundtrack is from Baby Signing Time. “Mom has a mom and SHE’S MY GRANDMA…” Yesterday, it was Imagination Movers’ “Catch” song. (“Who you gonna throw it to? Is it me or is it you?) Whether they’re from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dance-a-lot Robot, the Fisher Price barn, or a myriad of other shows or objects, these songs will haunt your dreams. They’ll escape your lips in the grocery store… even when you notice your child isn’t there to sing them to. Nobody tells you how crazy you will look and feel when this happens.
2. Nobody tells you that poop will become the center of your universe. Not your poop – your child’s. If you’re a mother reading this, you are nodding knowingly. (The rest of you are probably making vows of celibacy while reaching for a trash can into which to barf. Yeah, didn't end that sentence in a preposition. This post is authored by a legit English teacher!) But mothers? They know the progression of childhood doo. These days, Jeremy and I will almost high-five in celebration of a “flusher.” [For those without offspring: a flusher means you can flush the poo. When it isn’t a flusher, you have to hold your breath as you take the offending diaper to the garage into the stench-averting gift from God, the Diaper Champ.] When Luke was a newborn, we had a chart where we tracked when he ate, slept, and POOPED. A freakin’ Excel spreadsheet. I s--t you not. (Pun intended, obviously.)
3. Even though your first pet was the center of your universe, your baby before you had a baby, when said baby arrives, nobody tells you that you will not love your pet as much. There. I said it. I have previously said that getting little puppy Hannah and taking care of her prepared me for motherhood, and I will be grateful forever for having her. But now that I have a toddler to chase, that dog gets on my last damn nerve. I’m pretty sure she hates me, too; she’ll sometimes look at me and sigh as if she’s saying, “Thanks for carrying and delivering that demon-seed that ruined my life.” Now, before you look up the telephone number for the Euless office of the SPCA, stop. I still care for Hannah. I even LOVE her. Really, I do... even if there have maybe been times that it was only Jeremy that kept me from sending her back to Operation Kindness. I’m just saying it’s not the same. And before you haters get mad at me, I assure you that other new mothers out there feel the exact same way about their dogs and/or cats since you’ve had a baby. So there.
4. Any worrying you did prior to your child’s birth was strictly amateur; nobody tells you that once you’re a mom, you’re a professional worrier. Before Luke, I was maybe the Dirk Nowitzki of worriers – definitely well above average, and perhaps even top tier, but never at the apex. Today? I’m like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant converted their basketball proficiency into anxiety aptitude, went back to 1978 in a time machine, and had a love child: me. I worry when I hear Luke move around in his crib (that he’ll hit his head, get stuck, fall out; you know, all clearly logical stuff). I worry when I don’t hear him in his crib (he’s suffocating on the bumper pad; he’s stopped breathing; he’s been kidnapped, even though I heard no window, security system beeping, or insanely loud barking from Hannah signaling an intruder). [An aside, by the way: baby monitors are just as much a curse as they are a blessing.] I worry - and some of you out there with little ones are going to curse me - that he sleeps too much. REALLY. And these are just the daily things. God knows how I’m going to function when I’m worried about him making friends at school, reading on grade-level, surviving middle school, maybe actually talking to a girl (while staying dorky enough to be a virgin until he’s at least 25)… seriously. It is not coincidence that my prayer life has increased exponentially since he’s been born!
I could go on and on – and perhaps will another time. But for now, if you’re a mom, post a comment: what aspect of being a mom caught you completely and utterly off guard?