Let’s say you’ve never been on a roller coaster. You listen to friends describe the experience and you read descriptions. You imagine the suspense of the slow climb to the top of a hill and the exhilaration of racing to the bottom. When you finally take your first ride, you realize it’s more awesome and terrifying than you’d thought.
Well, this is how motherhood has been for me.
Despite all my preparations, the reality of being a mom has blown me away on multiple levels. Nothing would’ve prepared me for the range of experiences, from the agonizing moments to the blissful ones. I had to live it to believe it.
Below are 10 things that shocked me when my two kids came into my world.
I used to like acquiring new things, especially if they improve my day-to-day, like warm winter boots or a coffee pot that brews before I wake up. But the baby gear? Not so much. I feel suffocated when my carefully decorated living room resembles a Babies R Us sample sale.
No more Law & Order SVU marathons! It’s impossible for me to sit through any type of creepy mystery or cop show that features kids around the same age as my two. My mom-brain can’t bear to hear/see/read about anything bad happening to children – even if it’s fiction.
I was always more salty than sweet. I’d take chips over brownies any day. Until I had kids, that is. Suddenly, I have a sweet tooth. In fact, I wake up thinking about how I can incorporate chocolate into my breakfast. Although I’m resentful of those who aren’t tempted by the sugary stuff, a huge part of me feels like life is so much more satisfying when I’m eating Nutella out of the container with a spoon.
I’m an organizer. I make lists and I plan in advance. But sometimes with the kids, I’m seized by a brand new sense of spontaneity! So instead of doing laundry and planning dinner, I’ll pull the stroller out of the closet, strap on my baby carrier, and the three of us will head out for an unplanned adventure! I’ve learned to give in these whims because fun can be had when we least expect it.
Don’t drink alone. How many times have we heard that warning? And up until now, I’ve listened. But a nip in the afternoon when the kids have finally gone down for a nap may be the best thing I’ve ever done. Not only does a glass of wine calm my nerves, it also reminds me that although I’m un-showered, have Play Doh under my nails and Cheerio’s under my feet, I’m actually still a grown up.
The phone numbers you dial every day? The route you take to the grocery store every week? This information is now lost in a brain fog that won’t quit. Be prepared to walk into a room and forget why you’re there or open the fridge and not have a clue what you’re looking for. Every time Mommy Brain kicks in, I’m surprised at how angry I am and how disappointed I feel that I can’t rise above the murkiness.
BFFs are overrated. My circle of friends changes according to what’s happening in my life. Now, I hang with moms who live within walking distance. I don’t have time or energy to meet friends without kids for a lengthy night of bar hopping. Initially, I missed my unencumbered pals. But making new friends who can relate to lack of sleep and spit-up has proven far more valuable.
We used to throw parties for no reason at all. Impromptu get-togethers were our specialty. These days, it’s rare that someone other than my immediate family is in our home. Now I see a party as something with a purpose! An event to plan, anticipate and discuss over and over again. Organizing an adult only cocktail party is a dream distraction; I’ve never been so excited to choose invitations, decorations and a menu!
With my littlest one eating every couple of hours and a toddler demanding hotdogs, Goldfish crackers and applesauce for dinner every night, my idea of “meal time” has drastically changed. I no longer expect us to gather ‘round the table in a civilized fashion. At the end of the day, as long as we’ve all been (relatively) well nourished, I can say I’ve done my job!
Since the kids, my sense of modesty has flown the coop! Sometimes I even forget that I’m only half-dressed. My UPS man, my cleaning lady, and my dog walker have all seen me shirtless while breastfeeding. Seriously, after the reality of giving birth, I’m as comfortable with clothing as without.
Motherhood is an exclusive club that requires experience. Unless you’ve been there, it’s impossible to grasp the beauty of defining moments (baby said “Mama!”) or comprehend the dread of the daily routine (“I’ve read Big Red Barn 87 times in a row. Please shoot me”). The unexpected ups downs are as thrilling as they are maddening and, just like your kids, they are forever unpredictable.
Samara Kamenecka is a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not busy trying to mold her two kids into functional, contributing members of society, she can usually be found enjoying a glass of wine (or three) or eating ice cream straight out of the container. You can find her blogging over at Tiny Fry.