I’m writing my niece (who is expecting her first baby) a letter about what she doesn’t want to know about being a mom. Maybe she’ll have the courage to read it a few years from now when she wonders why she can’t stop crying.
#1 It hurts.
We’ve already covered the pain of labor. But if you’re going to nurse your baby, be prepared for the sensation of your nipples being subjected to a nutcracker for 25 minutes every couple of hours. The good news is this pain is better with lanolin and time (about two weeks will do it). The bad news is this is just the beginning of the pain your child will inflict on you. You can look forward to being bitten, head butted, and whacked with a hard toy when you least expect it. When your little darling leaves marks, be prepared to convince those who are sure you’re a domestic violence victim that you’re just a mom.
#2 You’ll never be alone.
You don’t want to be away from your baby now. Understandable. It’s also understandable that you enjoy being around people. But trust me when I tell you that you will think Guantanamo is an amusement park when your kid gets done torturing you. Just when you fall asleep, there they are to wake you up. You go to use the toilet or take a shower and your little blessing will be banging on the door screaming for you. When you sneak off to chat on the phone, read a novel, or have some chocolate, he will appear suddenly like a stalker in a scary movie. Only it’s your life. The really terrifying thing is they never grow out of it.
#3 Your house will never be the same.
Be sure to take pictures of your beautiful nursery now, because it’s going to be trashed very soon. Newborns pee, poo, and puke on everything and no matter how much you Shout it out, you’ll be left with stains. As your little doll gets older, expect to see the wallpaper ripped, the walls littered with graffiti using various mediums, the carpet dyed, and the curtains cut. Everything you love in your house will be lost, broken, or used to start her personal landfill. Is it possible to protect your home and belongings from this destruction with gates, locks, and strict discipline, you ask? Absolutely! However, your reputation will be destroyed when your child starts a tell-all blog about her mommy dearest.
#4 You’ll abandon your principles.
Whether you’re committed to giving your kids no fast food, no toy guns, or no video games, odds are you’re going to cave. Why? Remember, you’re going to be in pain, sleep-deprived, and living in a house ready for a Hoarders episode. If you’re really going to make your child be the one weirdo who can’t go to the McDonalds birthday party, play with the other boys in a Nerf War, or use any kind of screen (they all have games), you have some family therapy in your future. The therapist will probably agree to guest post on your child’s blog.
#5 You’re going to be afraid.
Remember the hypochondria you had during pregnancy? That’s going to grow along with your child. You’re going to be certain that every disease, disorder, and cause of death is going to visit your kid. Then you’re going to be afraid that you have the opposite problem. You’ll worry that you’re ignoring symptoms that would be cause for obvious alarm to anyone who wasn’t awakened by a screaming interrogator every 30 minutes. The truth is most of these terrifying scenarios won’t happen. Unfortunately, you still have reason to fear. Read on.
#6 You’re going to be embarrassed.
You’re careful to be politically correct and not to offend people. Your child, on the other hand, will behave like an alien life form or a National Enquirer reporter who has no respect for your reputation. She will point out everyone who’s fat with a Simon Cowell kind of honesty. She will tell your mother-in-law what you said about her before she came over. She will repeat the curse word you used in a weak moment when someone you want to impress asks how she is–probably your mother-in-law. If you give your little paparazzi a Facebook-connected camera, you deserve what you get.
#7 You’re going to be disappointed.
The disappointment your child dishes up will go beyond embarrassment. Kids are like cashiers at fast-food restaurants who listen carefully to your request for no mustard, no onions, and extra ketchup and then give you the opposite. When you express your disappointment, the cashier and your kid will look at you piteously as though you just haven’t learned not to sweat the small stuff. Whether your request is no mustard or a college athletic scholarship, my advice is the same. Don’t place any special orders and you’ll be satisfied with what you get.
#8 You’re going to need help.
Like any other torture victim, you’re going to need some counseling. Even if all you do is sit and cry to another mom, do it. It’s cheaper than therapy. And for heaven’s sake, relax your rules if they’re making you crazy. A bottle won’t kill a kid who’s nursing, a serving of chicken nuggets and fries won’t destine your child for the Biggest Loser, and getting a housekeeper doesn’t mean all you’re doing is sitting around watching reality TV and eating chocolate (unless you are, in which case call me. It sounds like fun). If your husband isn’t motivated to help out, use your best vacant stare and repeat gibberish. That shouldn’t be hard for you.
#9 Your body will never be the same.
You think you’re going to be one of those moms whose body looks just as good as it did before you had a baby. You probably think you’re going to win the lottery one of these days, too. Go ahead and blow the money on the stretch mark cream and the chiseled ab workout programs. They’ll help you get through the denial phase. Sure it’s possible that you’re one of those freaks of nature, who doesn’t have an abdomen that looks like a Shar Pei puppy after giving birth. But I feel it necessary to remind you of what we covered in the truth about pregnancy. If your body is the same, your friendships won’t be. We’ll all hate you. To avoid this, be a smart girl and wear a tankini even if you don’t need to.
#10 You’ll love it so much, you’ll want another baby.
Yes, despite learning everything you never wanted to know about being a mom, you’re going to want another child. It’s crazy! My diagnosis is Stockholm Syndrome. The child has hurt you, tortured you, destroyed your house, made you abandon your principles, scared you to death, embarrassed you, disappointed you, reduced you to dependency, and ruined your chances of appearing on the cover of Shape magazine, yet you’re convinced they’re one of the best things that’s ever happened to you.
You know what? You’re right.
P.S. Very soon, you’ll be cooking for three so I have a gift for you–a dinner time survival guide.