Saturday, February 23, 2013

Motherhood: Expectations vs. Reality

The topic this week, as I'm sure you already know, is what we expected of motherhood versus the reality of having a child.  Going into motherhood was the same in a lot of ways for me as it was for Heather and Tori.  Even the things that are a little different though, I'm sure we can all relate to and understand.  (Also, I've been trying, and I just cannot get over Herman the Hemorrhoid.  Haha.)

When I was eight, my sister, who was sixteen at the time, gave birth to my nephew.  I remember it all clear as day.  I was at school, in the second grade, and it was lunch time.  My aunt was a substitute lunch lady that day, and when I went through the line to get my food she told me B had been born and that he had a lot of really dark, almost black, hair.  I think back on that and laugh because soon after all that hair fell out and it came back in very, very blond.  That was seventeen years ago.  (WHAT!?)  Of course, being a teen mother, my sister still lived at home with us so I was around him as a baby every day.  From then on, it seemed as though I was always around little ones.  When my niece was born, I was twelve and she was attached to me from day one.  I would often watch her, B, and my sister's now-step-son overnight alone.  (I know.  I know.  Totally not going into whether this was great parenting move on my sister's part, though.  So long ago, and at this point it is what it is.)

By the time my youngest nephew was born, I was 15 and babysitting regularly, for family and other people.  I KNEW going into motherhood at 23 years old that it would be difficult.  It was often difficult to care for another person's kid, and I could give them back at the end of the day!  While I didn't realize how difficult it could be at times with my own, I also didn't realize how absolutely rewarding it would be as well.  You never truly know the feelings parenthood can bring until you are there.  I have tried explaining it to people, and I haven't been successful yet.  That is where I think most people get tripped up.  They are either stuck on being this wonderful super-parent that has super smart, well-behaved kids and don't really consider the other side of things (like Tori mentioned, and what I leaned toward as well), or there are the ones that are terrified of having kids because they will have to deal with poop diapers and tantrums but don't consider the love a child would bring into their lives.  I don't mean people who truly don't want to have kids.  I mean the ones that do but get hung up on having to deal with the downsides of parenting.

It's definitely not all rainbows and butterflies.  You won't be supermom or superdad.  Your kids won't blow sunshine up your butt all day long and do everything you want them to.  They will talk back, they will throw a fit in public, they'll get sick.  It happens.  It's a GOOD thing.  It means they are developing naturally.  What you can control is your reaction to it and guide them in the right direction.

Now, being a parent, I see that it is everything I ever dreamed of, and everything I ever had nightmares about.  There is nothing like seeing my little baby smile for the first time.
There is also no feeling like the one I had when she first got sick, and even worse, had to be in the hospital for a time.
She has grown right before our eyes, and every day I wake up and think, "When did her hair grow so long?  Where did my baby go?"
She has made me laugh and she has made me cry (in the same moment).  I never knew I even had so many emotions.

When she says, "I love you mommy (or daddy)," or, "Mommy (or daddy) is my best friend," my heart just completely melts.

Reality is so much better than my expectations, and so much harder.  But it's so very worth it.  I used to think it was kinda cheesy when parents would say, "My child is my life."  I didn't get it back then, but I do now.  I chuckle at those who think what I thought, because life is so much better on this side.  That little girl IS my life, and I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING.

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