Tomorrow, I will have 5 years of motherhood under my belt. Sometimes, I can't believe it's been 5 years and other times it seems longer than that. We had a rough start at parenthood and it's been a whirlwind since. Our son was born 3 weeks early, had a TON of feeding problems and ended up in the local children's hospital at 4 days old with jaundice.
It wasn't the beginning we had in mind, but things leveled out and here we are 5 years later. Even though I babysat for years as a teen, was a nanny and worked in a daycare in college, and eventually a pediatric nurse for 7 years, none of it prepared me for motherhood.
The long nights. The sleeplessness. Cries and lip ties, pumping, working, daycare, bumps and bruises. Nothing prepares you for the birth and raising of your own child. But in these 5 years, I've learned 5 key things about motherhood.
Even the "easiest" of days aren't necessarily easy
Though my oldest was a great sleeper, I do remember those early weeks of newborn baby cries. Nursing every hour to hour and a half around the clock. Endless diaper changes, baby onesie laundry and washing/sanitizing bottles and pump parts.
Those early days are rough. I really don't remember some days because I was just that sleep deprived. But as the years start to roll by, I've learned that even "easy" days as a mom aren't really easy. See, I don't have to worry about all the new baby craziness anymore. But each age comes with it's own trials. None are really worse than the others, but they are trials nonetheless.
And I've learned that even though he's getting older, as a mom, motherhood changes but doesn't get easier. It just changes. And if I've learned anything from the older women in my life, you still have concern for your children even when they're grown and have children/grandchildren of their own.
Boys aren't always rough and tumble
Now, I don't have any daughters so I can only speak from a boymom perspective. But you always hear when you tell people you're pregnant with a boy or just had a boy that they are going to be a handful. They will wrestle and jump off of things and test the physical limits.
While this is all very true in our household, the opposite can also be true. Between the two boys, the little one is definitely more rough and tumble than his older brother. But they are both soft hearted little things. While the older one loves mommy, he definitely has started to gravitate towards daddy. He still will come snuggle with me on occasion and cannot watch movies that pull at your heartstrings because he will full on cry.
The little one? He's as rough and tumble as they come (as he now has two goose eggs on his forehead!). Every day, he climbs into my lap multiple times just to sit with me and lay his head on my chest. Just because. He comes up and will ask for a kiss while he's covered in dirt.
So while yes, my boys love the outdoors and wrestling with each other, it doesn't mean that's all they like to do.
I thought I was an incredible mom, until I had kids
Before we have children of our own, I'm pretty sure most, if not all of us, think we will be the best parents ever. That our kids would never act like that in public and they would never have a meltdown in the grocery store like that woman's kids.
My most memorable pre-parenting encounter with another family was maybe a year before we had our oldest. We, the childless 20 something couple without any worries, went out to eat one Saturday night. It was definitely a family friendly place, but on this particular Saturday night, there were only a handful of couples with kids there and the youngest was probably about 5 years old.
Then walked in what I now recognize as a set of newer parents that just really needed to get out of the house. They had what looked like Irish twins, the baby maybe being 3-4 weeks old and the oldest right around 1. The dad walked over to the table first with the older boy while mom had the baby in a sling.
Almost immediately, the one year old starts wailing because he doesn't want to get in the highchair. His wailing causes baby brother to wake up and start wailing as well. Mom scrambles through the diaper bag, finally finds an applesauce pouch and throws it at the dad while he ninja-like opens it and shoves it in the boy's mouth in like 2 seconds flat. Mom nurses the baby and all is well. For about 5 minutes.
The circus continues of trying to keep both kids happy, scarf their food down and leave before an epic meltdown happened. Because now as a seasoned mom, it was about 2.35 seconds away from happening. But what was my internal response to their plight at the time? "Why on earth would they leave the house and come to a restaurant with both kids. That is miserable and they are crying so loud! I would have just stayed home and ordered in!"
Now looking back, I feel for those parents. I've been in those shoes before. When you haven't been out of the house in you don't know how long and if you have to cook a meal or order take out one more time, you're going to lose it. Where you just need to get out of the house, even if it means the kids will not cooperate, just to see people. And get dressed in more than a ratty t-shirt and yoga pants to just be a part of society for a measly 30 minutes.
Kid's don't need a room full of toys because they'd rather play with a box
I will say up until recently, we had utilized our den as a toy/homeschool room. Which the kids called "the toy room". It was ridiculous. So many toys I dreaded cleaning up at night (you can read more about that plight here). When our oldest was little, we had this small handled bag with his toys in it. Eventually it grew as he got older and we added little brother, but what happened most days?
He would play with an empty box from Costco and pretend he was in a rocket ship on his way to outer space. He would pull my mixing bowls out of the cabinet and bang them with his hands until I handed him a spoon. A piece of paper turned into a paper airplane created an hour of laughing and giggling play.
So, we've gotten rid of the "toy" room, thinned the toys, and guess what? They're just as happy, if not happier. There's just as much play, and a lot more most of the time.
I never knew what this kind of love would feel like
Even before becoming a parent, you know you will love your kids. You can't wait to hold them and love on them. But after a 20 hour labor and 2.5 hours of pushing, the rush of emotion when the midwife placed that tiny little human on my chest was unlike anything I'd ever felt before.
I love my husband greatly. That is a love that could never be touched as well. But the love you have for your child is so different and so much more than I ever expected. And then when I was pregnant with #2, I had no earthly idea how this fierce love inside of me could grow any bigger with the addition of a second child.
But then it did. And it's so amazing.