Adopting my first child a year ago, I had one week to prepare for motherhood. No worries here – I was ready and waiting for this baby after years of watching other moms do this. I quickly realized that whether you get nine months’ or seven days’ notice, there’s a lot they don’t tell you about being a mom. The experience has left me a few brain cells short, but I did my best to compile 12 realizations I wasn’t expecting in my first 12 months of momming it.
1. I became a cliché overnight. I instantly joined the ranks of the offending moms who clog up my social feed with baby pictures and stories. Phrases like, “Time, please slow down!” and “A mother’s work is never done” were added to my repertoire. And I didn’t even know what a helicopter mom was until my husband began making a chopping sound that I can only attribute to my hovering. Who am I? Someone please put me out of my misery the day I post about poop.
2. But seriously, a mother’s work is never done. In the early days of sleep deprivation, there are the well-meaning moms who advise you to “nap while baby sleeps” so you can get your rest. I demand to know exactly how these moms accomplish said nap, because I can hardly find time to bathe and feed myself. This is when you learn that it’s easier to make yourself a mimosa than a meal, and it certainly makes the never-ending cycle of bottle-washing and baby-feeding and laundry-doing more entertaining.
3. Dadding isn’t easy, either. OK. It may be easier, but not easy by any stretch of the imagination. In our case, that may or may not be because I’m a total Type A lunatic with little patience for normal people who have the nerve to want to relax after a long day at work. There are adult conversations to be had! Chores to be done! Babies to be comforted! There is no time for relaxing, Dad.
4. I am not Super Mom, and I need to give up on that title. That’s a lot for me to swallow. I mean, momming is just another job, right, albeit the most important one? I’ve always excelled in my jobs, because I work hard and smart and I just get shit done, OK? I fully expected to nail this mom thing. But when a role with the magnitude of momming collides with all of the other jobs we have (marketer, wife, daughter, sister, friend), it becomes difficult to be super at any of them.
5. Instead, I’m this thing called a Mombie. The kind who brews water because she forgot to put grounds in the coffee maker. The friend who, up all night with a teething 10-month old, neglects to brush her own teeth before arriving at Sunday brunch (worst hygiene fail of my life). The mom who leaves her SUV parked in the front driveway with the hatch open all night upon unloading groceries (turns out my neighborhood is safer than I thought).
6. Many of my preconceived parenting goals are being heaved out the window. I absolutely was going to cloth diaper and make my own baby food, because it’s not enough to just be a mom; we also need to save the Earth, dollars in our family budget and our kids from the long-term effects of processed everything. These notions quickly faded as reality set in. As someone who works outside the home, I can’t keep up with diaper laundering, nor meal prepping that balances my healthy likes, my husband’s decidedly NOT healthy likes and a baby who doesn’t know what the heck she likes. Once a fan of minimal screen time, and real hip-hop music, I can now be found rapping about Tasty Beats as I coax my toddler into eating jarred baby food through the distraction of Big Blocks Singsong on the iPad.
7. Tiny humans keep you on your toes. Just when I think I have this mom thing down, something changes. My well-sleeping, swaddle-loving baby starts rolling over, so we have to create new sleep habits. She finally learns how to maneuver her own bottle so mommy doesn’t have to hold and feed her, just in time for spoon feeding at the high chair. She loves oatmeal one day, but hand feeds it to the dog while eyeing me defiantly the next. I stay stumped.
8. There appears to be no end in sight. Currently a speed-crawler, she can’t be trusted for a second as she beelines for the doggie door, or hones in on the tiniest choking hazard with eagle-eye precision. On the horizon: Walking and potty training and temper tantrums. Next thing you know she’ll require our assistance with homework (time, please slow down!). We are in this for the long haul, and it’s never going to be easy.
9. Instead of becoming more mellow with age, it is possible to go off your rocker with anxiety. When my husband and I got our lab as a puppy six years ago, I rushed to buy those little “in case of fire, save me!” stickers for our windows, so paranoid our tiny yellow fluff would be the victim of a house fire. You can multiply my worry over all things by a million now that we are talking about a tiny strawberry blond girl. This translates into me waking up in the middle of the night thinking about things like how I really need to get around to changing out the sofa pillows for fear she’s going to choke on a feather. A feather, folks.
10. Whoever dreamed up these posed month-by-month pictures of the first year is not my friend. It’s a great idea in theory, but it’s one more thing I don’t need on my to-do list. I put it off every month without fail and am usually anywhere from two weeks to 29 days behind on this task, stressing more every day as we inch toward the 30 days that signify another month. I’m not thrilled that a year has gone by so quickly (time, please slow down!), but I am a little relieved to have one less thing hanging over my head every month.
11. Despite my self-perceived shortcomings, I am good at the things that really matter. I am a patient mom, in spite of generally lacking in this area. I am attentive; this kid has never cried it out in all of her 12 months. I aim to keep a smile on her face, and she rewards me with infectious giggling, and often. I am in absolute love with her, and I’m sure she knows it.
12. It has been the best year of my life. Motherhood is a tough gig, but all ranting aside, it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. In my late 30s, a new life has begun for me, and each year is guaranteed to bring new experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. Momming for the win.
About the Author
Merrisa Milliner has a journalism degree and has been writing in a corporate setting for nearly 20 years. She is mom to a darling daughter and a beloved yellow lab. In this mythical thing called her spare time, she blogs about her experience adopting her baby girl and life as a new mom at muchadoaboutadoption.com. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.