Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parenthood: Don't believe it

Before I was pregnant and while I was pregnant, when parenthood was brought up in conversation, the overall attitude I felt from parents was overwhelmingly negative. I'm unsure why moms thought it would be helpful to instill fear into my impending motherhood, but they absolutely did. They suggested I "say goodbye to sleep" for the next 18 years, warned me I'd never get to shower regularly again, or do my hair and makeup. That I'd rarely see my husband, and date nights? A thing of the past ("you wont want to leave her with anyone for MONTHS!") They told me my boobs would never be the same and would be in immeasurable pain for months while I learned to breastfeed. My head would feel like it wasn't screwed on tight for months and that everything would be a blur. My kitchen would be covered in smashed Cheerios and my shirt would smell of spit-up until the end of time. But I shouldn't worry, because joining this elite club was special, and that as soon as I joined, I'd be able to chime in and have my fair share of complaining. It wouldn't be long before I could bestow my "wisdom" on other expectant first time moms.

When my daughter started sleeping through the night at 2 months old (12 hours folks! 12 HOURS!) I was surprised, thrilled, confused as why I had assumed this was the impossible, and felt a little bit of guilt when those "helpful" expert moms would ask "how is she sleeping?" I still get to shower regularly (bedtime does exist, friends.) and I do my hair and makeup while my daughter plays with a pile of toys (or non-toys, ie. my hairbrush, toiletry bags, etc). I see my husband at night when our daughter goes down, and we have regular date nights thanks to starting early (our first date night was when she was just shy of 2 weeks old. It was hard, but now we look forward to date nights and that time alone) and helpful family and friends. Breastfeeding wasn't awful (I did get mastitis 4 times, and while I could have used that to scare the living daylights out of to-be moms, what would the use be? If they get it, they and their doctor will deal with it. Problem solved.) and any hurdle we faced with it was overcome. As soon as the baby blues wore off I felt like myself again, just with a new little buddy. My kitchen isn't covered in Cheerios, but instead Life cereal. And guess what? Our broom can handle crumbs just as much as it could before baby. Just the same way my washing machine can handle spit up and my closet is there to welcome me with a new shirt if I need it.

When I was asked how specific things were going, and when I responded with them going relatively smoothly, don't worry, I was warned again. You see, my next child "will be a hellion" to make up for this precious girl doing well.

Does it ever end? It absolutely should! Yes, things can go wrong. Yes, everything I mentioned can happen. But guess what? Everything good can also. If the difficulties come, you deal with it. You figure it out one day/hour/moment at a time, and it passes. You choose what you are going to focus on and what will define "motherhood" in your mind. I have chosen to focus on the good. Even if I have to find the good, intentionally seeking it out. We could use a lot more encouraging mamas!

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