I hear it all the time from moms around me: “No one ever told me.” When it comes to so many of the hard truths about motherhood, why do so many new moms feel left in the dark? It’s time to get real with friends and family about the challenges of early motherhood. So, here goes. I’m sharing the comprehensive list of things I wish more experienced moms had told me before I joined their ranks.
Lower Your Expectations
This begins in pregnancy and continues for the rest of your life as a parent. The earlier you realize it, the better. Even if you eat only lean meats and veggies, you could still find yourself walking out of your glucose test with a gestational diabetes diagnosis. And, even if you make a 3-page bulleted birth plan, you could end up with a C-section anyway. Of course, it’s still important to eat healthfully during your pregnancy, and your wishes should be honored as much as possible when you deliver your baby. But the reality is that the only thing you can truly prepare for when it comes to being a mom is to expect the unexpected.
Comparison is the Thief of Joy
There are things you see other moms doing now that you swear you will never do, but when the time comes and you’re the one in that mom’s shoes, you’ll do them, too. Don’t believe me on this? No expectant mom ever does. But it’s true! Of course, this doesn’t apply to everything, or even most things. But every mom has done at least one thing she swore she’d never do before she had kids of her own. You just cannot know what it’s like to be a mom or what decisions you’ll make as a mom until you are one. Refrain from comparing the mom you imagine yourself to be to the moms you see around you. You know what will make life easier for you and your baby when the time comes? Reserving comparisons and judgments. There will be one less critical voice to disregard (your own) to be able to move forward and do what you need to do. And sometimes, that makes a world of difference.
It’s Harder Than You Think
I don’t mean to be a downer, but motherhood is harder than you think. And unfortunately, there’s just no way to fully prepare yourself for the changes to your body, the constant demands, the lack of sleep, the shifts in your relationships and more. It. Is. Hard. But, if you go into it knowing that it’s hard, it helps. Remind yourself every day that you are loved, that you’ll get this down (every mom and dad does, eventually) and that Rome wasn’t built in a day. One day — maybe not in the next year or two, but sooner than you think — you will sleep again.
It’s (Really, Really) Worth It
It is very hard to be a new mom. (See above.) But, it is totally worth it. Sleep deprivation and the complete havoc baby has wreaked on your life may cause you to question that at times, but here’s the thing: that little one you are holding is a really cool person (or at least, she will be someday.) And there are so many memories waiting to be made, including staying up all night to nurse her. Maybe you’re not quite feeling like you can Carpe Diem yet, but you will get there, I promise.
And that, more than anything else, is what I wish they had told me. Now it’s your turn to pay it forward. What do you wish they had told you, and what words of advice can you share?