Monday, June 30, 2014

The Beginning

Being a mom at 25 would have been no biggie one or two generations ago. In fact, there was a time when pushing 25 before having your first would have even been a cause for concern. Nowadays, not so much.

With all of the advanced technology we have and the big careers we're busy building, it's not so uncommon to hear of women waiting until their 30's or even 40's before having children. After all, who has the time and resources for children when adolescence now spans two decades and monthly student loan payments are as much as a mortgage? I mean, it would be silly to think of having a child before you have your own place, a solid nest egg, and at least one promotion under your belt, right? Okay, well at least I've got the promotion part.

I consider myself a pretty intelligent individual. I've been fairly "successful" so far in life - whatever that means. I have a great education and am building the foundation of my career. I enjoy my friends and my family and staying fairly active. I feel like I know a thing or two about a lot of things. Including kids. I love kids. I've been babysitting since I was a kid. Red Cross certified and everything. Even babies - with their drool and poopy diapers were my thing. Motherhood, on the other hand, was absolutely not.

There is something really neat about being a nanny. Depending on how long you stay with a family, you get to know the children on an intimate level and you begin to assimilate into the family after some time. You know their likes, their dislikes, their allergies, their bedtime routines. You know that she hates having her hair combed and that her sister loves really high ponytails. You know that they both must eat five nice bites before they can say they don't like it. You learn where the lost shoes always end up and who likes to sit where during story time. You know their voices and their hugs and the way they light up each time you come back again.

That's the thing, though; you leave and you come back and eventually you leave for good. They are not your children and there is something very comforting about that. You get the fun times and yes, the stressful times, too. But you are getting paid for the stress. You have a definitive start and end time and eventually the madness will end for you. This is not the case for moms.

Moms are on the clock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are responsible for absolutely every facet of their babies lives. They do grunt work, manual labor. They clean diaper after diaper after diaper. They get drooled on, peed on, pooped on, spit up on. They clip little bitty finger nails and wash teeny tiny bodies. They swaddle and nurse (and an hour later nurse some more). They stay up all night, rocking, walking, and singing. They clean diaper after diaper...(oh did I already mention the diapers?).

They do all of this and so much more and no, they are not paid.

Yes, there are a lot of things I knew about at 25, but motherhood was not one of them. Now it is.

Depending on how Type A you are, there are very few major life changes that can occur without any preparation. Think about it. If you want to go to college, you spend four years in high school preparing your academic resume. You research schools, fill out applications, write essays, beg teachers for letters of recommendation, etc. Depending on your major, you may have to take some prerequisites and earn a minimum GPA prior to applying. Want to be a doctor or a lawyer? That requires even more schooling, which requires even more studying, more test taking, more essay writing. Want to be employed? Buy a house? Switch careers? Drive a motorcycle? You take my point.

Becoming a parent, on the other hand, requires absolutely nothing on your part. It doesn't even always require any conscious decision. It is probably the biggest life change that can and will ever take place in that with absolutely no lead time whatsoever, you go from being a single autonomous individual who has the luxury of deciding what to do and when to do it, to being wholly responsible for the life and well being of another person, who can do absolutely nothing for themselves. Nothing. Like, not even a little bit. Need a solid two hours of sleep because you haven't had that in days and you don't even remember what the backs of your eyelids look like? No can do, momsky. Showers? Maybe for the rich and the famous, but none for you. And what is this elusive "complete meal" people keep referring to and how do I get my hands on one? Really, I should say hand, since the other one is forevermore permanently occupied holding this little bundle of joy. I digress; but seriously, become a parent is the biggest life change ever and they don't even require you to take a test before leaving the hospital. They just let you leave with your baby. Without a nurse. Just you and your baby. By yourselves.

I'm sorry, who decided that was okay?

Side note: I did actually ask one of the nurses if I could bring her home with me. She chuckled and asked me how much I'd be paying her.

After you arrive home, the first logical question that comes to mind is, "Now what?" For me, the answer was simple. I nursed my baby and then I promptly handed him to my best friend and said, "Have fun," and then I went to pass out for several glorious hours. Then I woke up and cried because that's another fun thing that happens after you give birth. You cry. All the time. They call this 'baby blues', but I call it 'basket case'. It's really a matter of preference, though.

Once the tears dry up (they do eventually) and you look at your beautiful baby, you can't help but just melt. And then cry some more. This time, though, they are tears of overwhelming joy and inexpressible gratitude at what the Lord has entrusted you with. This tiny little helpless baby needs you for everything. Every little thing. So cherish these moments, because as every veteran mom will tell you, they're over before you know it. Because soon you'll be cheering in the stands at their high school graduation - crying some more (is this like the official staple of motherhood?), and part of you will look back on these early days and miss them, tears and all.

But that's 18 years away, so before we get to that point, I would like to chronicle these moments. For posterity's sake, yes, but also for my friends and family today. I'm learning a lot over here, and I feel quite selfish hoarding all of this knowledge. Also because I've gotten questions about my experience and what I would or would not do differently next time and which baby shower gifts are and are not useful, I figured I'd share some stories and tips that may or may not be helpful. Depending on my level of sleep deprivation, they may or may not be entertaining, too. I make no promises.

Hang on to your diapers, it's about to get messy.

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