As we round the curve to Mother's Day I've been thinking a lot about life before becoming a mom. The role of mom wasn't one I was keen to undertake. There was a time I vowed never to procreate. But, accidents happen. And, I accidentally stumbled onto the craziest, happiest, most maddening, terrifying and purely beautiful experience of my life thus far.
So, what was I afraid of? Oh. My. God. So many things! Much of that fear was completely unnecessary (as for the other stuff...I didn't know the half of it).
Tapping into my pre-mommy brain I've come up with my top 5 Unfounded Fears of Motherhood. Maybe they'll help ease the minds of those women who are on the fence about this whole mommy business.
1. Poop: The thought of baby poop on my shirt, face, the couch, the walls, was enough to keep me on birth control for years. Quite frankly, it terrified me. A younger me mentioned this once to a co-worker with a young son. I said something neutral like, "Doesn't changing your baby's diapers make you gag, like, all the time?" I'll never forget her look. At the time I thought she was just mad that I offended her baby. Now I realize she probably wanted to slap the stupid off me. Here's the truth about poop; I don't know if it's biological or psychological, but if it comes from your baby it's just not that gross. (This is especially true for breastfeeders.) That's hard for people without kids to understand. This is the best way I can explain it: consider the difference between your poop and that of your husband or boyfriend. While one isn't exactly a field of jasmine it's not nearly as offensive as the other stuff.
2. Sleep deprivation, forever!: Sleep and I have had a long and seductive love affair. And I wasn't about to break it off just for some gurgling, little baby. When moms would say "you'll never have another good night's sleep in your life", I thought, OK, no thanks, I'm out. However, that claim turned out to be a big lie. I won't be the mom who claims sleep deprivation during the infant days is no biggie. It's a frickin' nightmare during which you may make pacts with the devil and/or threaten to remove vital parts from your sleeping spouse's body. Yet, while a painful time, it's brief. Lately I've enjoyed many long and peaceful nights. In fact, I probably sleep even better now because kids tend to make grown-up people tired. Just don't expect to sleep in. My darlings still get up at 6am, even on weekends.
3. Mom Jeans: Have you had that friend or colleague who, once a reasonably hip gal, returns from maternity leave sporting wash-and-wear hair, mom jeans and Reebox? I have...and it wasn't pretty. I know this reveals an excessive vanity on my part, but I could not see myself signing up for a program that meant automatic revocation of my fancy card. Then I had a baby and realized it's all about choice. Those who hated bothering with their appearance before motherhood now had an excuse to rock sweatpants all day. I'm not much for sweatpants. I have traded in my stiletto boots for wedges. But I solemnly swear that pajama jeans will never been seen on my body.
4. "Your body will never be the same": Women can be so dramatic. They love to tell you this either a) to make you feel bad, b) to make themselves feel better or c) because they're mean moms. So many women reported this news to me that I had visions of developing lumps in awkward places or taking on the shape of a swollen eggplant. The truth was far from this for me. I mean, yes, the boobs are never the same. After being granted their own zip code during nursing, mine are actually smaller now than before pregnancy. And they're not quite in the same place. And, I suppose your uterus is never the same. But, with the exception of those parts, the rest of it usually pops back into place.
5. Say goodbye to sex: It's amazing how personal people get when you're pregnant. Strangers touch your lower abdomen (a little too close to the lady zone for me), and love to reveal intimate details of their own lives. I heard countless tales of sex lives that fizzled post-baby. This was jarring. Not only in the I-don't-want-to-think-about-my-mailman-having-sex-thank-you-very-much kind of way, but also because I didn't want to imagine this sort of thing, um, fizzling. All I can say on the subject is your perspective changes after you have kids. Sometimes people get tired. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes more is less. However, I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty details of my personal experience because, for one, my mom reads this blog and that would be weird.
Of course, you may have noticed the me, me, me theme to these fears. That occurred to me, too. But it makes sense. People without children often consider themselves first. I guess I did. Things change instantly once children are involved.
And, yes, I did have many other fears related to the health and well-being of the babies I carried. However, I still hold those close to my heart. Every day. All the time. This very second. And I'm not able to joke about them.
Still, despite the minefield of trepidation, motherhood comes with a million little rewards. You just have to be willing to let a little person steal your heart.
Who else is going to offer you gems like this one my daughter gave me this morning?
"I love you so much I want to eat you up like a donut hole!"