You know that famous poem from 10 Things I Hate about You: “But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all?” Well, that can definitely be applied to motherhood: I don’t know anything. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all. With your first you THINK you know what you’ll do, how you’ll handle a situation, what you’ll feed them. You obsess over any and every decision: doctors, diapers (cloth vs disposable and what brand of disposable), car seats (here’s a great review on an infant car seat and one on a convertible car seat), wipes, going home outfit, the crib, the sheets, the wall color, when to feed solid food, is that a normal poop, why is she sleeping so much. The list goes on. Then you get the bright idea to have another kid. You obsess a little less because your false sense of security is telling you “You got this! You’ve already have a kid.” But nobody warns you that going from one kid to two is so.unbelievably.hard. You wouldn’t think so but, suddenly, you have two tiny dictators with different personalities, temperaments, wants and desires. And if you’re like me, they’re only 16 months apart so you basically have two babies that need you all.the.time. Things settle a bit and then when you’ve reached a period where you think “Two is good. I don’t need to have another. I’m happy with these two”….and you find out you’re pregnant again. Now, don’t get me wrong, he was very much wanted and loved but it’s HARD. The older two are more independent and want to do all the things while you have to hold the baby because he can’t do anything. There is constant chaos, sometimes good, sometimes bad, always loud and crazy. You don’t prepare as much, ok you don’t really prepare at all, because you’re still thinking “I got this! I’ve had two kids” and you’re still just as wrong as the second time. Now I’m not perfect, or mother of the year, but here are six things I’ve learned in the 4+ years I’ve been a mom.
1. You learn how to groom yourself quickly.
There isn’t time for the teenage ablutions that take hours. The perfect coif or carefully applied makeup. This is a Mission Impossible set-up. Get in. Get out. Move on. You get 5 minutes in the shower before all hell breaks loose on the other side of that curtain. The baby starts crying. The older two are fighting. Someone is yelling. You end up naked, dripping wet, consoling a baby or refereeing who gets to play with the Paw Patroller first.
2. The “mom cut” makes so much more sense now.
As a kid I wondered why all the moms had short hair. Cute pixies, stylish bobs, wispy fringes. Now I get it. If you’re blessed with thick, luxurious, gorgeous hair like my sister and can go to bed with a wet bun and wake up with flowing mermaid hair–I hate you. I have “in between hair.” It’s neither straight nor curly and, if allowed, air-dries into this half wavy-half frizzy-half straight concoction that is not cute. So, I’m forced to either use my time straightening it into some semblance of order or scrunching it and letting it run free. Enter: the mom cut. For me, it’s a cute bob that allows me the freedom to complete in 10 minutes so I don’t look as haggard on the outside as I feel on the inside. Also, it fits into the chaos mentioned above.
3. You learn how to eat on the go.
If you think your grooming habits become Speedy Gonzalez-like, then you’ll be sad to know that eating becomes almost non-existent. You either eat standing up and military-esque aka as fast as possible or you don’t. I’d like to think I’ve mastered the one-handed-eating-with-a-baby-on-my-hip. You’d think this technique would help you lose weight, what with holding a 20 pound bowling ball as you eat, but sadly it does not.
4. You learn how to cook easy meals.
Speaking of eating, you learn how to make 5 or so really good meals. And you eat them all.the.time. As an adult you like the variety of dinners available. “I had that 2 days ago” becomes a quest for something new and amazing to dazzle your taste buds with. Kids have no such desire. They will eat the same thing, every day, every meal for the rest of their lives and be completely happy. As a parent, you WANT the same things because you know that means no fighting. You know that means the kids will eat it. You know that means relative quiet while you eat. And so, I have learned that repetitive meals for dinner, while boring for me and my hubby, are vital and important for the tiny dictators. If you need some ideas for quick meals, check out this blog or this blog.
5. You learn your Mom was right.
All the times you complained and rolled your eyes and thought that your mom was just.so.ugh. Sure, you think you’ll do things differently, and maybe you do but then you open your mouth and something you loathed hearing as a kid comes flying out and you realize: you are your mother. There’s no escaping it, denying it, running from it. You tell your kids that you made that dinner and they’re going to eat it. You hear yourself talking about the poor kids in Africa or Ethiopia, or whichever country has become the rack on which to hang the hat of choice this generation. And the scary part? You even agree with her. You totally understand why she got up at 5 am to read a book, or left to go shopping every Saturday morning. It was her sanity to come back refreshed and ready to handle all the people pulling on her. And so, you learn how to make your own little escapes to come back with a cup that is a little less than bone dry so you can give back to everyone else in your family.
6. You learn to let things go.
You may not let all the things go but you learn which ones are important. So your kid’s clothing doesn’t match? They dressed themselves and allowed you to finish getting ready. So there’s toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror? Hopefully, some of it landed on in their mouth. Your kid needs some extra loving and stays up late rather than going to bed? That’s what nap time is for. The kids want to “help” cook and you end up with scrambled eggs that have a little crunch? At least they’re learning to cook. This leaves room for more important things to worry about like: connecting with your kids, teaching them new things, learning new pieces of their personality.
Motherhood is an ever-changing tide of emotions, worries, schedules and demands. Just when you think you have the hang of it something will throw that careful balancing act off-kilter and you’ll have to start again. It’s not easy but we keep doing it.
What are some things you’ve learned as a mother?