Before I had a baby, there was so much I didn’t know about motherhood and so many people to tell me what I didn’t know.
But no one tells you the really important things. No one told me about the theft of my identity.
No one told me about the loss of my previously firm ground.
No one told me that inside it would be a constant battle between not sweating the small stuff and not even knowing if the stuff is small or not, and a war between the “me” who loved my partner and the “me” who secretly loathed him every time he left for work.
I’ve never said these things aloud because they scared me. The truth is that I was that woman without kids who absolutely was not going to be any of the women above. I knew it all going in, and didn’t sweat it. I had my baby later in my life, so I was on terra firma when it came to knowing who I was and what kind of mother I wanted to be.
And while that is still partially true, motherhood rocks you to your core no matter how strong a woman you are. It’s literally wearing your heart on your sleeve and inviting everyone who ever hated you into a room to have a poke at it; I had never before felt that kind of vulnerability.
First-time motherhood rocks you even more. No one can tell you what to expect going in (though many will try) because each woman’s experience is different. As a problem-solver by nature, discovering all of a sudden that I have no clue how to do something and that I may try 239 answers that don’t work before you find the one that does is a very cold dose of the realities of parenthood, and it terrified me.
Those early days were very scary and very vulnerable times for me, and I am sure I am not alone in that. As my daughter got older, those hard times faded and made way for new challenges; chief among those challenges was (is) learning to curb my need for control over this little hurricane that become my three-year-old daughter.
At three, she understands logic remarkably well (at times that do not include candy), so she does respond well to reasoning with her. I am so grateful for that, because I really do not have any idea what I will do if I ever actually do count to five.
Toddlers are smart cookies, and know us inside and out better than we know ourselves. They know exactly what buttons to push, exactly how many minutes you will take of their screaming, and they know exactly who to go to for candy at 8:00 a.m. without you finding out.
The trick is in knowing them inside and out, too. It’s okay to figure ourselves out as we go along because if you aren’t learning better ways to be you aren’t growing; if you aren’t growing as a person, how can you teach your child to?
It’s okay to not know you, fully. Motherhood will shake you up and set you down, completely unsettled and unfinished, and that’s okay. I wish someone had told me that in the beginning.
What are some of the things you wish you could have prepared for?