When I had my first, I honestly thought I was a whole lot more prepared than I really was. I thought that after having about 60 nieces and nephews that I was somewhat mentally and emotionally prepared. It turns out nothing can prepare you for the wonders and trials of being a mom to littles. And I am sure that as my kids grow I will find that nothing can prepare me for the journey of big kids either. Here is a short list of some of the most surprising things about motherhood.
1. You are needed constantly– obviously I knew before having my first that babies were needy creatures. But I had no idea what it felt like to be needed literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without rest. They need you to feed them, they need you to bathe them, to wipe their butts, kiss their owies. They need you to snuggle them on the couch, to laugh at their (not so funny) knock knock jokes, to discipline them and teach them how to be kind. They need your love, your time, your energy, they just need, need, need!
2. You will both love and resent that being needed– There are times that you feel like if one more person needs one more thing than you will just loose it. But than there is days when all 3 children are sick and cuddled up on your lap that you will love that you are the best thing in their world. You will love the light in their eyes when you praise them, and the magical healing power of your kisses. You will love that they want to be with you, at the same time as you desperately need a moment of time by yourself.
3. You will live on less sleep than you ever imagined– It always amazes me how well I can function on unimaginably small amounts of sleep. If I had a night pre kids where I slept in one hour stretches, dealing with other people’s problems, I would have been unable to function the next day. Now I just pour myself a little larger of a coffee and go about my day as usual. And always without fail, no matter how tired you are when you put them to bed, you will not want to go to sleep yourself. Somehow you will always have energy to still stay up too late, watching tv or reading a book, or just sitting in a trance enjoying the peaceful silence
4. You have a much more vivid imagination than you ever thought– I always knew I had a pretty active imagination, but now that I have kids it amazes me. I can always imagine what trouble they are getting into when I can’t see them, or the certain death or mayhem that will happen if I allow them to go out of my sight. I can so clearly picture the trouble just waiting to befall us all. Which leads to my next one…
5. The fear, oh the fear! – I don’t think I really ever would have considered myself the anxious type until having children. Now a sad majority of my life is spent in worry about my kids. Are they safe? Are they healthy? Am I raising them right? Did they have too much screen time this week? What should I do for kindergarten? I fight constantly against my urges to be a helicopter mom, and I know I allow myself to give in to the urge to hover way to often.
6. Mommy guilt is real- No matter how much you worry before you make those decisions, one thing you can be certain of, guilt will probably follow. You feel guilty that they eat too much fast food, or watch too much tv. You are certain they will be behind forever if you decide to homeschool. You sneak in at night and whisper sorry, and kiss their sleeping heads, because you feel so guilty for hollering, or ignoring them too much the day before. You pray constantly for God’s grace to cover your many shortcomings as a mother.
7. You are still selfish- I kind of think I just imagined that I would have kids and just instantly want to spend my whole life serving and pouring myself out for them, like it was just a flip that I would switch “activate selfless mode”. Maybe it was just that that was how my mom made it seem. But nope, turns out I am still human. I still want my long baths, and hot dates out with daddy. I still sometimes need to check out and to not be needed for just one minute, or maybe a day or two. I love being home with them all day, but sometimes I just need to do my hair and makeup and be with adults.
8. But oh, the laughter- Never, ever will you laugh as much in your life as you will with littles in your house. Whether it is how they pronounce their words, or their attempt at humor, their reactions to things, or the questions they ask about life. You are always either laughing or attempting to hide your laughter from them. I can’t even count the amount of times I bust up a day, even on the worse of days. And to think before kids, I had whole days where I wouldn’t laugh out loud.
9. You absolutely cannot prepare for the love you will feel– The gut wrenching, heart bursting kind of love that you feel when you look at your baby, or your growing child, is just unimaginable. The pride you feel over every milestone, and the joy over every smile, the pain over every heartache. It is a scary and exhilarating kind of love, that keeps you going and keeps you giving, even when you feel like you have nothing left to give.
10. It goes SOOOO fast– It might not feel like it when you are up all night with sick kids, or bouncing a fussy baby, but this time goes so fast. You will never get this time back, when they fit snugly in your arms. You will never be as needed, as exhausted as you are right now in this moment. You will not be as clung to, as smothered in hugs and kisses. You won’t be the center of their universe forever- and most surprising of all, is how sad that makes you feel.