I have a confession to make: I don’t love babies.
I mean, I love my babies … Thank goodness. People told me this would happen and it is true worried, knocked-up, doubtful lady googling things late at night. But when people try to reassure you of this when you’re eight months pregnant, just smile and nod. Just don’t say “I hope so” and dubiously eye up your own girth. It only worries them.
Regardless of how you feel about infants, the first year of motherhood IS overwhelming. However, it turns out, even I can be a passable parent to infants until they turn into people. And you can, too.
But first, you have to ease up on the expectations just a smidge.
Here are five lies about being a mom that you should stop believing right now:
Lie #1: Breastfeeding gets easier.
Lactation consultants. Your mom. That friend double-nursing twins while doing aerobics. They make all sorts of claims like, “if you have the right latch, your nipples will not chafe.” Let me tell you ladies, my first daughter was the size of a small tank (23 lbs. at 7 months), lactation consultants raved about her latch, I had milk for days, and breastfeeding was still TERRIBLE.
Pain, bleeding, engorgement, you name it. I nursed her for 13 months, and I am currently nursing my 4-month-old, and it’s NOT easy.
Here are a few drawbacks you can look forward to:
- Spraying someone in the face at McDonald’s from 40 meters away.
- Being tied to your baby physically when you just need a timeout or a good night’s sleep.
- Mastitis. Plugged ducts. Cracked nipples.
The struggle is real, people.
Instagram vs. reality. You feel me?
I choose to breastfeed, and it works for us, but I think expecting difficulties ahead of time would have allowed me to feel normal, instead of thinking I should be magically nourishing my kids in a meadow with butterflies.
Lie #2: I am responsible for my child’s actions.
Let me explain. You are responsible for your child’s food, clothing, hygiene, and pretty much all of the things they can’t do for themselves. You are not responsible for their actions. This is likely a good precursor to teenagehood when you also can’t control their personal choices.
Toddler moms, I’m not saying it’s OK to let little Billy bonk Sally over the head with the Baby Bjorn potty. Smarten up, Billy. I am saying, kids cry on planes. Kids poop everywhere. Kids melt down in restaurants. Kids refuse to nap and then act like drunken celebrities. It’s not your fault, and it doesn’t define you as a mom, so don’t take it on. You have enough to feel responsible for this year.
Lie #3: I must cherish every moment.
That moment when you are emanating eau de spit-up, wearing last week’s clothes, rocking a baby in the grocery store, and the well-meaning elderly lady says, “You just love every moment. It goes by so fast,” and you’re thinking, Nap is in T-15 of the longest minutes of my life …
You can’t cherish every moment. Most of them consist of puke or shrieking or spraying someone in the face. The sooner you let go of this, the more you can actually enjoy the great ones and find humor in the tough days. But just nod and smile in the store. Don’t knock the sweet elderly gal over the head with the baguette you’re planning to stress eat soon.
Lie #4: I can do it all.
Heck, no you can’t. You shouldn’t. Why do you want to? Are you aware that this gig is UNPAID?
I love the environment, but I can’t make myself do cloth diapers. I’m sorry earth, but if I had to clean those filthy things, mama would be so cray-cray my minions might not make it to adulthood. In this world of Pinterest-created, organic, hand-mushed baby food, and repurposed burp cloth table runners, being a mom can seem less attainable than in the 1950s. Don’t play the compare game. Choose what matters to you and stay in your lane.
Lie #5: I need to join a mom group.
The idea of mom groups (raise your hand if you procreated) “because if we have offspring we’ll get along” gives me hives. I’m itchy just writing about it. If you want to bond with other mamas and you don’t have any friends nearby, you join the heck out of mom groups. No judgment. But you don’t have to. Your kid won’t remember bouncing in a circle in the pool with that creepy dad from down the lane, but you will.
You do need to find a mom support system, however. Maybe it’s friends with kids. Maybe it’s leaving the kids at home and getting out with your single girlfriend. Maybe it’s blogging in the locked bathroom while your kids think they’re playing hide and seek. Hypothetically …
You do you, mama.
I’ll leave you with one last little lie that I am holding on to as I go through the hell that is the four-month sleep regression. My mantra is: This is my last baby. My husband seems skeptical, but it’s keeping me going.
In the meantime, take a breath and carry on, you brave soul. You might wake up one morning with little actual people in your home and realize you made it.
Toddlerhood? That’s a whole ‘nother ball game.More On