When you know better, you do better. It’s just that the process of how, exactly, to know better can be a tough one. Especially when you’re a mom, and what you know, and how you do it, affects not just you, but your child.
Joan Wickersham recently wrote on The Huffington Post about seven truths that women have to learn the hard way, which got us to thinking about truths that moms have to learn the hard way. It’s a nice idea to think it’s our kids who learn lessons the hard way, and that by the time we’re old enough to have kids, we know better and will take the path of least resistance.
Yeah, it’s a nice idea.
Here are seven truths that moms have to learn the hard way. Quite unfortunately.
Mom Truths 1 of 8
Mom truths — there's only one way to learn them. Hint: It's not the easy one.
There’s Very Little That Comes Naturally When Breastfeeding 2 of 8
It's one of those things that many first-time moms-to-be don't give a lot of thought to: breastfeeding. After all, like getting pregnant and giving birth, women have been doing it for forever. How tough can it be, right?
So, so wrong. For countless women, breastfeeding is easily the least natural thing they've ever done. Or maybe it's easy for them — heck, they're just making milk — but it's the baby who can't figure it out.
Either way, it's one of those things that you just assume will happen. And yet it's one of those things that so often just doesn't. Sure, maybe if you stick it out, suffer through a bout or two of mastitis plus three or four consultations with a lactation expert it'll eventually become old-hat. But that initial few hours, days, weeks or month? Easily the longest of your life — with a hungry, crying, and frustrated baby and an even more frustrated you as you attempt to reinvent the wheel that you just assumed worked like a charm for every other mother who ever was.
A Good Night’s Sleep Cures Everything. Until You Wake Up. 3 of 8
"Sleep when the baby sleeps" is an oft-repeated — and annoying — phrase to new moms. Because you have nothing better to do with your free time when you don't have a medium-size turkey strapped to your chest.
A lack of sleep make everything worse. Everything. Worse.
But even when you get just a single good night's sleep or even just a nap? It only fills up your tank to the quarter or maybe halfway mark. When you're sleep deprived, you're so desperate for rest that you think getting a solid eight hours (or even just five) just once is all you'll ever need. Until you realize five to eight hours after your five to eight hours ends that you're just as tired, if not more so, and the prospect of getting that kind of uninterrupted sleep again anytime soon is about as likely as your baby starting to change the lining in the diaper pail.
The Mutual Infatuation You Have with Your Kids is Short-Lived 4 of 8
In the beginning, there's nothing but love. You're all your baby knows, and you only have eyes for your baby. You crush hard on that soft, sweet-smelling little bundle, and the baby looks at you all starry-eyed as if you, indeed, hung the moon.
The love grows exponentially by the day, but eventually, the crush begins to fade. After all, it's hard to maintain that kind of new love for too long. Moms eventually realize that their baby's poop does, indeed stink. And babies realize that while they might be the center of their mom's universe, there are often other planets competing for some sunshine.
While moms might hold onto the feeling of puppy love for a while, and their kids might circle back to it at some point, it's rare that they both feel it at the same time again the way they do in the beginning. It's not exactly a case of star-crossed lovers, but no one is exactly writing a ballad about the relationship between a mom and her pre-adolescent offspring.
Kisses Only Heal Emotional Boo-Boos to a Point 5 of 8
The great thing about being a mom is having the ability to keep Band-Aids in stock for those times when emotional boo-boos need some TLC. When the Band-Aids stop doing the trick, kisses prove to be a powerful healing tool.
The sad day comes, however, when neither an adhesive strip or a warm hug can cure what ails your little (or big) one. And when that happens, it's hard to say whose heart breaks harder — mom or child.
Stereotypes Exist for a Reason 6 of 8
Most men have the best of intentions when diving into fatherhood. And most women have high hopes that their partners will step into the paternal role with grace, energy, patience, endless love and an open mind.
That being said, you'll be hard-pressed to find a pair of parents who don't slip into a few stereotypical roles after the baby arrives. Many women don't want to be that one who greets her significant other at the door at the end of the day and passes off the baby like a contagious disease because (A) she didn't have the luxury of spending all day in an office, and (B) when was the last time, exactly, he put the baby to bed. And that significant other doesn't want to be that one who's spoken to and of as if he's another child in the family who needs to be told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. And then how he's done it all wrong, anyway.
And yet. There many of us are after we become parents. The people at Hallmark who write the snarky cards don't make this stuff up out of thin air, after all.
You are Your Own Harshest Critic. Except for all the Even Harsher Ones. 7 of 8
It seems impossible to believe that anyone can judge your parenting style more severely than you do. You beat yourself up regularly for not spending enough time with your kids, reading to them more often or providing the healthiest of meals on a more regular schedule.
But then you remind yourself that your standards are the highest, and that no one is judging you as hard as you judge yourself.
Except, of course, for the peanut gallery — which comes in the form of your neighbors, friends, family and your child's teachers — who do, in fact, judge you for the choices you make and the actions of your child. Sure, maybe you get the credit when things are going right. And when they go south? Yeah, you're definitely to blame. Maybe not to your face. But if you've ever felt it go a little too quiet when you walk in a room, and if you've ever read any online commenters on any number of parenting websites and blogs (ahem), then you know.
You just know.
Be Careful What You Wish For 8 of 8
A lot of parenting, particularly in the early days, is spent waiting. Waiting for the day they sleep through the night. Waiting for them to hold their own bottle or put the pacifier back in their own mouth. Waiting for them to say "Mama." Waiting for them to wipe their own butt. Waiting for them to go to school.
It's hard not to wish the hard, exhausting and draining times away. It's silly to think every moment is one for the baby books.
But just be careful what you wish for — because as all moms figure out, you'll get it eventually, and that's usually when you won't want it the most.
Photo credits: iStockphoto
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