Becoming a mother is an amazing experience. I don’t think anyone would deny that it is life-changing and (mostly) beautiful. But, let’s admit it—it isn’t all cuddly babies and cute onesies. Motherhood is a challenge. There are things about being a parent that you don’t expect, and not all of those things are pretty. Unfortunately, you hear a lot about the awesome parts of parenthood, but no one is very forthcoming about the not-so-awesome parts. You know it’s not going to be easy, but do you really know why? I didn’t. Sleepless nights and dirty diapers were the only drawbacks I was truly aware of when I first became a mother. Here’s a few of the other harrowing surprises I discovered when I brought home my first little bundle of joy:
- Breastfeeding hurts. It's bond-building, rewarding, and good for your baby. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's painless. When my milk came in for the first time, I was totally unprepared for the rock-hard boobs and cracked nipples that come along with the job. Take all the breastfeeding advice you can get, especially if you're easily frustrated (like me!). Don't give up--I promise it gets better. The pain is fleeting and totally worth it.
- Your inner bitch will be exposed. Becoming a parent reveals personality traits you never knew you had, and they aren't all pretty. Between unbalanced hormones and sleepless nights, it isn't surprising that you'll occasionally use your cool. There might be women out there who breeze through the newborn stage with their wits completely in tact, but I doubt it. So if you find yourself screaming about dumb stuff (Why are the coffee mugs on the wrong shelf?!) or contemplating ways to maim your husband (Can't he pick up the baby just this ONCE without being asked?!), please know you aren't alone. (Just try not to actually maim your husband...he is the father of your child, after all.)
- Sleeping with your baby in the bed is cute—until they’re 5… I actually *did* get this piece of advice before my first child was born--I just didn't follow it. And, honestly, if you're the kind of person wants to sleep with your baby in the bed, then you probably won't listen, either. Because it is so precious to have your little one snuggled in next to you. But, for the record, when he's five and still wants to sleep in your bed--I told you so.
- Outside advice is annoying—even if it’s warranted. Motherhood is a journey, and it's unique to everyone who travels the parenting highway. So even when your mother-in-law is telling you for the bajillionth time that your baby should be wearing socks, or your neighbor is recommending lullabies to stimulate your baby's brain, try to take it all with a grain of salt. Some of those tidbits might be useful, but at the end of the day, it's your child. Some mistakes are meant to be made. You'll learn and grow right along with that little bundle of joy (and that's exactly how it should be).
Yep, being a mother is an amazing experience. But it's also life-altering, stressful, and intense. So if you need a few moments to cry or scream or punch a pillow, don't feel bad. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, right?