Last week I started this mini-series by looking at my hopes/thoughts/expectations for marriage and how those compared with the reality. This week I’ll tackle the same comparison for motherhood.
Thoughts. Hopes. Expectations.
My thoughts/hopes/expectations for marriage were, to put it nicely, starry-eyed. As starry-eyed as they were, my hopes and expectations of motherhood were pretty gosh darn bleak, if I’m being honest.
I was sure that once our daughter was born I would never again sleep. I was also pretty sure that the way I slept in the last trimester of pregnancy (read: awful) would make sleep with a baby look like a day at the spa.
I fully believed that I would be lucky to shower once a week and that my hair would be a constant mess and disgusting pit of spit up and other baby excrement. Speaking of excrement, I was certain that I’d constantly have throw up, spit up, pee or poop (the baby’s, God willing) on me at all times. On the off chance that I got a shower, I was mentally preparing myself to only be clean for about 10 minutes post-shower.
I figured that all of my friends would change as I became a mom and had only mom friends. I was pretty sure my social life would be severely limited since going anywhere with a baby (especially having not showered!) would be next to impossible.
You know how, on TV, when a couple has a baby and they so much as try to kiss, the baby wakes up and screams? I believed that would also be true. Anytime I’d try to do anything the baby would cry and I’d never get anything done ever.
In a nutshell, I believed that life after a baby would involve me sitting at home alone, smelling like baby throw-up because I hadn’t showered in days…or weeks.
Like I said, my thoughts on what motherhood would be like were pretty bleak when I was single. I LOVED babies and could hardly wait to have them, but I knew it would be a serious struggle. The reality, delightfully, hasn’t been as bleak as I thought it would be.
I shower daily. Let me just start there. It is a priority for me. If I do nothing else for the day, I make it a point to shower. (Though I’ve also figured out how to do things like the laundry and cooking with the baby in tow.) Some moms can go a few days, but I just can’t. Showering (even if I’m only truly clean of baby liquids for ten minutes post-shower – that part is true) is the thing that makes me feel like a normal, functional adult. As my mom always says, “you have time for what you make time for” – I simply make time to shower, even if the baby is in her bouncer listening to the water fall as I shower at the speed of light.
Sleep. I actually slept better after the baby was born – even with all those middle of the night feedings – than I did at the end of my pregnancy. No more giant baby bump pushing all the air out of my lungs. I could just sleep. So when I get the chance in between feedings, I’m out cold. It is an adjustment to not sleep through the night (not yet anyway), but I’m not complaining too much. Surprisingly, you just adjust. And babies are cute, so that helps wake you up 🙂
Mom secret? Almost any given day (even with a 5 month old!) I’ve got some amount of drool, spit up, or some other baby fluid on me. As long as you can’t smell it or obviously see it (in the event that I have a spare shirt), I just live with it. I could tell you all kinds of ridiculous stories about how she’s spit up on me, in my face, in my hair, etc., or the kinds of poopy diapers I’ve changed and how I’ve literally been elbow deep in poo, but I’ll let your imaginations run wild. Again, you learn to deal.
Social life. Honestly, I’m much more of a home-body. It isn’t often that I go out with friends, and motherhood hasn’t changed that. Actually, I probably go out more now as a mom than I did when I was single. I like socializing my baby and showing her the world, even if she won’t remember these things. You learn timing and how to get all of the things she actually needs and get out of the house. I’ve made new friends with other moms, but I’ve kept other friendships too. Some relationships are deeper than others, but I don’t think that motherhood has changed the depth of the relationships, just the number of things I can connect with others about.
Lastly, I do get time to just reconnect with my husband. Sometimes it is brief during her short naps, but I promise that the baby won’t wake up every time you try to kiss, just some of the time 😉
With marriage I was pretty ‘rose-colored-glasses’ whereas with motherhood I was all ‘doom and gloom’ – and I’m not sure which is better. Motherhood has been a pleasant surprise, even though it, too, can be challenging. Both roles are challenging and stretching me and I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world.