(For my sister who is due with her first baby in three weeks…)
Oh yes. This is the way things happen.
You get pregnant, have a baby, survive a year or so of sleep deprivation, memory loss, heavenly smiles, and diapers, and then one afternoon while you’re making a sandwich your baby is sitting on the counter, nonchalant, happy as a clam.
This is what having a baby will teach you:
That you are not in control.
That you were never really in control.
That there is grace in losing the battle, just as there is grace in quietly, patiently persisting with boundaries, bedtimes, and broccoli.
You will never be able to hear a story about a child suffering again without tears wetting the corners of your eyes, entirely unbidden, always unexpected, smudging your mascara as you consider what if.
It’s okay to start over or give up a million times. No one knows any better than you do–and when it comes to your own kid, you do, actually, know best, no matter what anyone else tells you.
It’s all about giggling.
Getting dirty is inevitable and essential. Make your peace with the effing laundry heap. It will never go away. (Although–one thing that most certainly will go away, inexplicably, and often, are single baby socks. One by one they disappear until you’ll have an entire drawer full of singletons.Think I’m kidding? Just wait.)
It’s about stopping and getting down on the floor. Especially with boys. It’s all about the floor and what can be accomplished there: block towers and tickling matches, and moments of physical affection, rough and tumble that they crave. Moms who wrestle are awesome. It’s not just a guy thing. Please don’t believe it’s just guy thing.
It’s about the fact that the floor will always have crumbs, paper clips, pencils, crayons, snippets, legos, blocks, matchbox cars, marbles, rocks, crumpled leaves, gravel, sand, bits of grass, sticks. Don’t let it get to you. It’s just not that important.
Don’t let the crying get to you either. Whatever feels like the worst day in the world, the worst hour, the worst minute, will surely pass. And you’ll blink, and they’ll be 20 months old and sitting on the counter, as if that’s okay, as if it’s not precarious and against the rules. And they’ll be grinning and giggling and drooling, and saying “No! No! No!” when you remove them, or suggest an alternative.
It’s all about alternatives. About distractions. “Oh look!” That’s a magic phrase, right there. Oh yes it is.
It’s about not getting it right the first time or the second time or even the third time. It’s knowing that any mom who looks like super mom, who is always prepared–with snacks and wipes and changes of clothes and perfect birthday party invitations–also has her off days (or else a whole lot of hired help.)
It’s about knowing that there is a learning curve and that you can’t get it right the first time, or the second, or the third. Knowing what to bring takes practice. Knowing what to expect takes a 18 years or more. Go easy on yourself.
Know that if you have ziplocs, wipes, and diapers in your car you have half a chance of avoiding disaster. A change of clothes for everyone, also in the car, is never a bad idea. When they are older swimsuits and towels and sunscreen should live in the car too, just in case. And a picnic blanket. Bandaids. Books. Juice boxes. Get over the fact that your car will look like a bomb just went off in it, always and forever more. Immaculate cars are for wimps without kids.
Carry pacifiers in your purse. Later, matchbox cars, notebook paper, animal crackers, pencils. Know that the day will come when you will sacrifice your phone (even your iPhone) or your sunglasses (even if they’re Gucci) to that little sticky pair of hands to buy ten minutes of peace, and resign yourself to this fate.
Know that you will survive on less sleep.
Forgive yourself for forgetting the little things. They’re little for a reason. Little things can be repaired, replaced, forgotten or forgiven.
Forgive yourself for the big things too. Hormones are messy. Love is messy. Learning to be a mama is messy.
But it’s glorious too. So glorious.
It will crack your world wide open. Oh yes it will.
I’d love, love, love for you to share some of the lessons you have learned from being a mama…and I am sure my lovely sister will dig them too. Please share! 🙂