After months of crying and praying and waiting for my son, in many ways, I wasn’t prepared to be a mom. My son will be a year old in a few months, and here is what I’ve learned I wasn’t prepared for:
1. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of bodily fluids I would come into contact with.
I expected spit up. I did not expect to be squirted during diaper changes, and I didn’t expect diapers leaking through to my shirt during church, yellow goo on my hands because he wasn’t finished going when I started changing him, or being thrown up on 5 times in two hours. Not to mention, he has a sweaty head when he sleeps if his head is touching anything besides a sheet (just like my youngest brother had).
Being a mom involves getting dirty.
2. I wasn’t prepared for how his first smile felt.
It was on a Sunday afternoon, and I took a break from getting the house ready for our small group to spend time with my baby. I told him I loved him, and he smiled for the first time. My heart melted, and my eyes filled with tears. Since then, he is almost always ready to give a smile (unless he’s tired or hungry).
Being a mom involves heart melting moments.
3. I wasn’t prepared for the number of baby-inflicted injuries I would sustain.
When he was first born, I received scratches on a regular basis, and I had the marks to prove it because gloves would not stay on his little hands. Now that he’s mobile, I have had bloody lips because he plops his head down on my face. He’s also learned how to pinch. Apparently my arms and neck are prime targets for pinching. Again, I have marks to prove it. My hair is a pull toy that goes wherever I go. Unfortunately, I didn’t count the number of hairs he has pulled out of my head, but if postpartum hair loss didn’t make me feel like wearing a wig, or at the very least, a hat, my little hair puller might push me over the edge. The worst part is, after he tugs, I say, “OW! That hurt!”, and my ordinarily incredibly sweet baby smiles. He. Smiles. Thankfully he doesn’t have teeth yet, so he can’t bite, but I anticipate adding biting to the list of ways he’s assaulted me.
Being a mom involves pain.
4. I wasn’t prepared for how smart he would be.
I know I’m naturally biased, but guys, my son is smart. At eight months old, he knew how to refute my “no” with an “ah!” and a nod of his own. He responds affirmatively and gets excited when we ask if he’s hungry and wants to eat, he waves bye-bye when questioned about where he’s going when crawling out of the room. If he has a dirty diaper, he smiles when asked if he stinks, he looks at his dad when I ask where Daddy is, he stops what he’s doing or sits up and watches for his dad when he hears the key in the door (even from the upstairs bedrooms!) or the garage door open, and he comes close when I ask if he wants to snuggle.
Being a mom involves proud moments.
5. I wasn’t prepared for the lack of sleep.
Oh sure, I was warned. Plenty of people took it upon themselves to tell me to enjoy my sleep while I could. I either ignored them or laughed it off as exaggeration. I graduated college and had my share of late nights of studying, and I lived in a dorm with fire alarms going off at random times in the middle of the night—I could handle it. Ha! I felt like a zombie for the first month and then again at 3-6 months when he was up every 1-3 hours. Then there’s a tough decision to make in the daytime: drink coffee and feel a little bit more energy but risk not being able to nap if you have the opportunity or don’t drink coffee, keep feeling like a zombie, and be able to take a nap if the opportunity arises.
Being a mom involves not sleeping.
6. I wasn’t prepared for laughing at 4AM.
My little character is in rare form these days when he wakes up in the middle of the night or early in the morning to eat. We bring him into bed with us to feed him, and he takes a few sips, then sits up with a massive smile, climbs on me, climbs on his dad, pushes my head or my other arm off of the arm resting on the mattress to make a place for his head to go as he plops down next to me to snuggle for a minute before he gets up with another smile and starts the whole process over again. At some point, decides to start eating again, and then snuggles for a little while longer before being taken back to his bed.
Being a mom involves unexpected laughter.
7. I wasn’t prepared for how nerve racking the first few nights were.
Was he warm enough? Was he too hot? Was he going to scoot down into his swaddle and cover his face? Would I wake up if he cried? Was he still breathing? For the first few nights, I slept with my pillow propped up, overlooking his pack ‘n play, and waking up every few minutes to look at him, not because I was so crazy in love with my new baby, but because I was so afraid he’d stop breathing in the night, and I needed to make sure his chest was still rising and falling.
Being a mom involves worrying.
8. I wasn’t prepared for how much I would love his personality.
While I was pregnant, I worried that he wouldn’t like me or that I wouldn’t like him. While we have a few years before he grows up enough to decide whether or not he likes me, I’m pretty crazy about him. My little guy is a character. If you know my husband, you’re probably not at all surprised. He definitely inherited his goofiness from his daddy. He babbles and dances in his high chair or at the baby gate. He showers everyone he sees with smiles (again, as long as he’s not tired or hungry). He laughs at random things (mostly things his dad does, every once in a while I’ll earn a laugh). He is stubborn. He’s fearless (unless he’s faced with sunflowers, and then his bravery rapidly melts away). He’s adventurous. He is incredibly sweet and snuggly. He is observant. He is ornery.
Being a mom involves falling in love.
9. I wasn’t prepared for the isolation I felt.
Granted, it took me weeks to feel human again and to be somewhat functional, but the first couple of months were incredibly lonely. I had worked until the day I went into labor, and I was used to being around people. Suddenly, I was with one tiny person all day, and for a while it seemed like all he did was cry, sleep, eat, and stare (he did a lotttt of staring, especially at the painting behind our couch). It was worse than it could have been because he was born in winter, and I am terrified of driving in snowy or icy weather. Plus, flu season was one of the worst in recent years, and my newborn didn’t have the immune system to fight a sometimes deadly flu. From what I read of other people’s experiences, the flu sounded absolutely miserable, and I didn’t want to get sick either!
Being a mom involves loneliness.
10. I wasn’t prepared for how fast it all goes.
When he was first born, I longed for the day he would sleep through the night, and therefore, wanted to just get through the newborn phase–even though I was warned about how quickly it goes. Again, I ignored what I was told. In just a few, short months, my newborn has gone from needing held constantly, not being interactive, being tiny, and being a loved little stranger to being able to sit up on his own crawl, pull himself up on furniture, walk with a push toy, smile, laugh, “talk” back and respond to questions, being big (okay, he’s still pretty tiny for his age, but he’s so much bigger than he was!!), and being someone whose likes, dislikes, and moods I know. It’s crazy how fast he’s grown. His growth and development has been so bittersweet. On the one hand, it is an absolute joy to see the new skills he develops, to watch his personality develop, and to watch him grow, but on the other hand, I cried when I boxed up his newborn clothes, and I know it’s just a matter of time before my snuggle-loving baby grows to be a space-craving little boy (my eyes filled with tears as I typed that).
Being a mom involves time flying.
And in just a few months, we get to start it all over again. I will probably still not be prepared.