What the Parenting Books Didn’t Tell Me…

The parenting books didn’t tell me what this moment was going to feel like:

January 26, 2005, at 11:29 a.m.  The moment it hit me that holy shit, I’m a MOM.  I have another human being in my care.  He is completely dependent on his Dad and me.  He is ours.

I’m not going to lie.  I was scared.

I had no idea what I was doing.  Yes, I had babysat for years as a teenager.  Yes, I considered myself “good with kids.”  But nothing can prepare you for actually having a baby of your own.  Or, at least nothing prepared me.  Maybe I was just reading the wrong books.

None of the books I read told me I would feel so sleep-deprived in those first few weeks that I would actually wake up hallucinating in the middle of the night that Keegan was being smothered by me in our bed, when he was actually sleeping soundly in the next room.  (And…none of the books mention that there will come a day when all you want for Mother’s Day is…A NAP.  And I got one this weekend.  And it was glorious.)

None of the books I read told me the best way to get a frickin onesie off of a baby without smearing poop in their hair after they have somehow pooped up to their neck and down to their ankles.  Nope.  The books don’t mention the disproportionate amount of shit that can come out of a baby’s teeny-tiny body all at once.

None of the books I read told me how hard it was going to be the first time you and your baby get sick at the same time.  Because all you want to do is hold your baby and do whatever you can to make them feel better, but how can you take care of him when you can hardly function yourself?  (Answer: You just do.  The books also don’t mention the strength you will find in yourself after becoming a Mom.)

None of the books I read told me how hard nursing was going to be for me.  Now…I’m not going to get into a discussion about Moms who nurse vs. Moms who don’t.  I feel very strongly that it’s up to each mom.  What it came down to was this: Nursing didn’t work for me.  Period.  But the books didn’t warn me about that happening, or the tremendous amount of guilt I would feel when I finally made the decision to stop.  Do I admire moms who do it and love it?  Yes.  Do I also admire moms who have the courage to say it didn’t work for them, and also don’t apologize for not doing it?  Yes.

None of the books I read told me how amazing it would feel to watch your husband playing with his son, bouncing him up into the air.  And…they didn’t tell me how damn funny it would be to watch your son puke all over your husband’s face because Daddy just didn’t know when to stop.

None of the books I read told me how hard I would cry on his first day of Kindergarten.  There was something about seeing my first-born son sitting at that desk, looking so proud and happy…it turned me into a blubbering idiot.  The books should mention you might cry the whole way to work that day.

None of the books I read told me how it would make me feel to find things like this while cleaning the house:

None of the books I read told me that sometimes I would lay awake at night, worrying about my boys’ futures.  (And they’re only 7 and 3.  I don’t even want to think about the worry that will come when they learn how to drive a car.)  The books didn’t mention that the thought of my son struggling his whole life with people not understanding or accepting him will feel absolutely crippling.

None of the books I read told me my kids would put things in a new perspective for me that I hadn’t experienced yet.  That I would be challenged in ways I had never expected.  That I would gain a level of patience I didn’t know was possible.  That I would end up stronger.  And that a sense of humor is vital.

The books don’t talk about the joyful moments you will have with the same son that made you a Mom:

The books didn’t even come close to describing the bond I would feel with my boys.  The books don’t talk about the joy, heartache, and laughter that come along with motherhood…sometimes all in the span of an hour.

There is a book that is my new favorite, though, that encompasses how motherhood makes me feel.  I got it this morning from Keegan.  He made it at school, and had been hiding it since Friday.

The first page reads, “I know everything about my Mom and she knows everything about me.”  It goes on to read, “I know that she likes flowers.  She knows that I like Mario.  I know that she doesn’t like to play the Wii very much.  She knows that I don’t like soup.  I know that she needs help with groceries and so I help her by carrying them.  She knows that I need help with my homework so she helps me by thinking.  My favorite things to do with you are playing games.  My Mom looks prettiest when she puts on a dress.  Mom, you are special because you are the best Mom.”

Now that was a book worth reading.  (Also, I guess I need to wear more dresses.)


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