The other day, I posted this article from Scary Mommy on my Facebook. It was “liked” by several parent friends, obviously because it’s snarky, hilarious, and true. I also had one not-yet-a-parent friend who commented her things she thought (was afraid?) would be true about having a baby. Here they are:
1. They will be constantly peeing.
2. They will poop all the time and smell like poop.
3. They will cry all the time, especially at night.
4. They won’t want to breastfeed OR bottlefeed, somehow.
5. They will grab my hair and pull it hard, frequently.
6. They will drool on things constantly.
7. They will cry whenever I put them down and I won’t be able to get a break from them.
8. I will feel trapped and at the mercy of a crazy baby.
Unfortunately, I had to tell her that these are all sometimes true. No, they’re not blanket statements that are true all the time. But are there times I feel like all I do is change diapers? Yes. Are there times that all I seem to hear is the sound of crying? Sometimes. Yes, babies pull hair (and clothes and earrings). Yes, they poop a lot (especially newborns) and you will smell it (especially toddlers). There are times I feel like I need a break from the little humans I created. Yes, there are times you may feel trapped in the nursery, with a baby who is endlessly crying, who doesn’t want to eat or sleep or play or be put down.
In short, yes, motherhood is hard. Raising kids is tough, no matter what age they are. (I’m told it doesn’t really get easier.) But are you immediately and totally consumed with love for this tiny, helpless, red-faced thing you’ve created? ALL OF THE YES. Do you sometimes watch them peacefully sleeping, and remember the moment you first saw them? Absolutely.
And in response to where I think people get these ideas before you have a baby/kid of your own… If you aren’t close to any kids, or friends with kids, all your experience with them is probably related to times you were at a restaurant and there was a crying baby at the neighboring table. Or the time you were at the grocery store, hearing the squalling kids from several aisles over, strapped into a racecar shopping cart full of juice boxes and goldfish crackers. But the truth is that you’ve been around babies and children way more often than that. It just didn’t occur to you, because those kids weren’t throwing tantrums or making messes. Sometimes, that happens. They behave! They eat their dinners! They draw on their menus instead of throwing the crayons to the next table! But those moments when they’re “behaving” or “acting normal” are just less memorable to you. They don’t stand out in your mind. But they happen.
So yes, having a baby is difficult and wonderful. It will rock your world in the fullest meaning of the word, in good ways and bad. Yes, you should be ready before you decide to have one. And “ready” looks different for everyone. There’s no way to fully prepare yourself for the change in your home, and the change in your heart.