I'm taking a Friends episode approach to this post title as I've racked my brain for far too long.
Taking on the role of co-coordinator for this upcoming year of MOPS has had me reflecting a lot about my journey of motherhood and what I wish I had a better grasp on prior to becoming a mom. Of course, the subject is rich and I can probably only scratch the surface in a blog post, but I thought I would give it a shot nevertheless.
There seems to be, by and large, three topics regarding parenting that come up over and over again when I am chatting with other moms. Ones that I gave little thought to prior to having Logan and Weston.
The first being sleep. There is a reason why people always ask parents, "How are you sleeping?". That's because there will almost surely be a time in your child's life that you won't be. Logan was a horrible sleeper for the first several months of her life, where as now she's great. And Weston is a rock star sleeper, although I know not to hold my breath. You can put money down on the fact that this is a topic that total strangers at the park will want to talk about and you can almost a) hear the sigh of relief when you tell them that your kid is not sleeping as if they are thankful they're not the only ones or b) notice the onslaught of questions regarding how you did it, that come following a response that suggests your child sleeps well. Sleep stressed me out to no end with Logan and something that was always on my mind. As in: When should she go down? How long will she sleep? Will I sleep tonight? For how long? How am I going to get her to sleep? Where should I lay her down? Should she sleep in her crib? Should she sleep in the swing? Does she need more sleep? Less sleep? How many naps should she get? When do we have to be home for her to sleep? It's simply exhausting at times. And it doesn't seem to end. They always seem to be pulling some sort of sleep stunt to throw you off your game.
The second topic that I never thought would be such an issue is feeding your newborn. Breast or bottle, the first few weeks of your little one's life will feel like one long feeding session. And in my humble opinion, it sucks. Don't get me wrong, there were certainly moments of "bliss" looking down at Logan and having her nuzzled close to me but I also felt like I couldn't catch a breath in between feeding, burping, changing and starting over again. I quickly learned with Logan that I couldn't structure the day how I wanted. Two hour increments run your life for the first several weeks and even without any issues with breastfeeding (or choosing / needing to formula feed) there are times when you will feel like nothing but a constant milk supply. Where, when and how (yes, even how) I was going to feed Logan was a constant pressure for me. I felt as though there were no such things as "simple tasks" anymore. The constant need for a clock or watch and the slightest hint of hunger were enough to keep me on edge. And just when you get through those tough times, it's almost time for solid foods. And picky eating. And throwing tantrums at the dinner table...
Third? Time. I am still coming to terms that it's not mine anymore. Boo. It belongs to these two little people under our roof and while I do get plenty of breaks thanks to Chris, it's not quite the same. Decisions as small as running out to the store or grabbing dinner with a friend now need to be made based around the kids schedules, nap times, wake times, bed times, who's working, who's home, etc. etc. Time management is very hard to do so that Chris and I both feel like we are staying sane.
Time is also a funny thing for the fact that there are, er...times, when there never seems to be enough of it and you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off - doing exactly what, you're not even sure. Then there are other moments when the days, hours, minutes and seconds seem to drag on. And on. And on. Like when it's 4pm and you are desperately waiting by the door for your husband to waltz through or when it's an hour till bedtime and you can't possibly think of another activity to do with your kids until then. And often these two situations can happen...gasp... all in the same day! Yep, time is very tricky like that.
Also? The amount of time it takes to do just about anything is baffling. Getting everyone ready and out the door will seem like a small miracle. What once took five minutes will now take 30 and there are no such things as a "quick errand" when kids are involved (minus the drive through kind, which you will come to appreciate).
Finally, while we're on the subject, I should add that your partner's time will likely always seem greater than yours. Especially if you are a stay at home mom. No matter how amazing they are (and I think Chris is pretty darn great), you will always have less time than them.True story: A friend of a friend told me frankly one evening after I was complaining about such topic that, "...Mothers will always do more". Plain and simple. I didn't like this answer. It's hard to come to terms with. Hard not to whine. Hard not to keep score (not that I don't try now and again). But if you can grasp this concept early on, it may help when you can't figure out why it's so freaking hard for them to wash the bottles have been sitting in the sink all afternoon!!
With all of that said, I think that the need for community becomes more important once you become a mom than ever before. And while that may sound like an obvious plug for MOPS (wink), it really doesn't have to be something organized or structured. But I can say from personal experience that my journey with motherhood became infinitely easier, humbling, meaningful, thoughtful, joyful... better... after making friendships with other moms. For me it started with finding a MOPS group (thanks Erin!) and having one morning (just ONE!) every other week to talk with other moms and have a couple hours to myself while Logan went to childcare. And for those two mornings a month, I felt like I was on vacation. I didn't become best friends with these women and in fact, moved groups closer to my house several months later, but it didn't matter. It was simply having something - or rather someone(s) -to talk to, bounce things off of, and feel one step closer to inching out of isolation. Keep in mind that I had a total of 2 friends (although at the time, more like acquaintances) whom I knew with kids. Not having any friends with kids was rough to say the least, but it also allowed me to venture out and meet some great women through various groups and activities. I would wholeheartedly urge every mom to find at least one friend (with kids) who they can share their day to day laughs and struggles with. Knowing that they "get it" is totally life saving. For instance, my good friend and neighbor texted me just the other day telling me that she dropped her son off at the drop in day care down the street because she was losing her mind. We had a good laugh about it and knew that each other understood. We go back and forth like this all the time, not to mention that we have created an awesome childcare trade. That's the kind of friendship you need ;)
Thankfully, I feel as though I have come such a long way since having Logan. As a mom. As a wife. As a friend. To be honest, there were several lonely and depressing moments when I first became a mom and I truly felt as though I was the only one who must be struggling with such issues above. If I had only known how important some sort of community with other moms would be, I would have stood on the street corner that first day home saying: "Have baby. Like wine." just to recruit a few friends, heheh.
Like any good disclaimer, this has been my experience. And despite what may sound like a scary and daunting journey, being a mom is most certainly an awesome thing.