Being a mom is more challenging than I thought it would be. You feed a baby, you change its diapers, you get it dressed—what’s so hard about that? From the outside looking in, it all seems easy. That’s the first lesson, really: it will never get easy.
1. The things that seem easy actually aren’t
Between all the easy stuff (the changing diapers, the dressing), there is stuff that is deceptively difficult. I worried about feeding near constantly at the beginning (is he eating enough? how many wet diapers did he have yesterday?) and I did a Google search for every dip in my supply, every rash Forrest developed, every little thing. I researched sleep patterns, nap times, wake times, activities, and everything in between. I was obsessed with making sure he was getting enough, doing enough. Was his development on track?
It seems so easy. The baby is hungry, you feed him. The baby is sleepy, you put him down and he falls asleep. But it’s not. It’s really not.
2. When parents say they are busy, they are busy.
Being busy, for parents, isn’t just something cute to post about on social media. It’s a reality.
And amongst all of these secretly difficult parts of being a new parent—the feeding, the pumping, the changing, the tracking every detail, the reading, the holding him for every nap—I had to do basic things like clean the house, shower, cook dinner, pay bills, and eat. This is why I spent the first 4 months of Forrest’s life in leggings and sweatshirts. Don’t even talk to me about getting groceries when Forrest was younger than 6 months—it was an undertaking that required planning.
3. It gets “different” (not easier).
It gets different though—not really easier, just different. That’s the thing about parenthood. I think I know just about how to survive and then Forrest does something different.
By the time I had Forrest’s nap schedule, poop schedule, and feeding schedule down… he changed it up. He ate more per feeding, less frequently. Cool. He wanted to stay awake longer. Cool. He wanted to stay up late, or go to bed earlier. Or he went two days without pooping and then, bam! Like nothing had ever happened.
I would love to be one of those parents who keeps their baby on a strict schedule: feedings, naps, meals, bedtimes. But it’s just not possible. I’m impressed by parents who manage to do this early on and can mentally keep track of it. Some days, Forrest’s schedule is set in stone and perfect; some days, he hasn’t had a nap all day and wants to go to bed at 4:30. It’s whatever.
4. You spend money on stuff you never thought you would.
A “treat” for me used to be going to Target and buying a new top or dress, or a new piece of home decor. Now, I splurge, almost every trip, on an outfit for Forrest, as many of the baby food packets as I can handle, and potentially a new toy. When we have extra money, we buy things for Forrest: a car seat, a music-playing projector, a big toy. I recently bought myself a new phone case for $8 and felt tremendous guilt about it. I haven’t bought new clothes for several months, but Forrest has enough clothes to last him until December without wearing anything twice.
Our newest exciting purchase is a miniature toilet for Forrest to start sitting on. I used to spend $20 on a single eyeliner; now I’m researching and reading reviews on the best potty to potty train.
5. You’ll do things you swore you would never do.
Like sleep train, or formula feed, or join a mom’s group. Two things I swore I would never do: take a kid who wouldn’t remember it to Disneyland and throw a massive first birthday party.
Well, Danny and I are planning both of those things for Forrest, so I’m really eating my words there.
The truth is, you never know what kind of kid you’ll have (a non-sleeper or a good sleeper, a terrible eater or a great eater, an independent baby who can play happily on the floor for hours or a baby who wants to be entertained, by you, until nap time) and so you’ll never know what kind of parent you’ll be until you’re there.
It’s easy to think things will be one way and only that way: you have a “good baby” or a “difficult baby.” But if I’ve learned anything, things can change day-to-day. Some days, it’s so easy. And other days, I want to tear my (greasy, unwashed) hair out. Some days, Forrest is an angel; some days, I swear, he’s trying to make me miserable.
But then I get to kiss Forrest’s chubby little cheeks, read a book to him, and put him in his cute little shark pajamas, and I realize I get to experience the greatest journey of all mankind. Being a mom isn’t easy, but it’s also pretty great.