While pregnant with Luna, I heard all the typical tips, warnings and advice from basically every single person I came in contact with, stranger or not. I nodded kindly and smiled when they told me all about how much my life would change, but in my head I was thinking very arrogant thoughts. Duh. I KNOW my life will change. I am perhaps the most prepared Mom ever, and I am READY.
I was cocky, so cocky. I began babysitting when I was 12, worked in a daycare in college, taught Elementary school, taught preschoolers, toddlers and worked with LOTS of babies. I knew what to expect, and in some ways, I was really prepared. I mostly behave like the mother of a second child. Eating food off the floor? Putting dirty hands in their mouth? Explosive diapers? Snot and spit-up on my clothes? Forced to look like a fool in public? It’s all totally fine. I have yet to stress over any of this. I knew it was coming.
However, Luna is now a year old and after reflecting a lot on the past year, I realized that I was in many ways not at all prepared for parenthood and have discovered that there are some things you will never realize until you have a kid.
1. There are basically zero healthy drive-thru’s. We are out and about often, and too often I fail to pack myself any food. It never fails that severe hunger strikes when I am in the car and Luna has just fallen asleep. It’s, of course, nap time and the absolute last thing I want to do is wake her up. So, the only reasonable option is to get food at a drive-thru, but where? I’m a vegetarian and try to eat healthy as much as I can. I usually end up at Starbucks, because when all else fails, coffee.
2. Mom friends are imperative. Most of my friends in Tennessee are childless. I never once cared that I was having a baby and no one else was, until I had the baby. It gets lonely and often isolating when you are taking care of a baby 24/7. Also, your baby is sometimes all you want to talk about, and I’m here to tell you that 30-year-old single guys do not actually want to talk about breastfeeding, meeting milestones and post partum depression. In fact, the only people who want to talk about these things are other Moms. My new friends are so important that I may soon be writing a blog specifically for them.
3. Parking at the grocery store is a real challenge. There was a moment when Luna was a couple of months old and the two of us were grocery shopping together. After checking out, we walked to the car and I faced a completely new dilemma. First, who/what do I load first? Baby or groceries? Baby, right? I should get her buckled in safely before unloading the groceries. Then, after everything was unloaded, I looked at my empty basket, then at the “basket return” area 50 feet away… shit. It’s rude to leave your basket wild and free in the parking lot, but if I return it and leave Luna in the car someone is certain to call child protective services on me. I stood there in the parking lot, glancing between the basket return and Luna, debating, when an angel dressed in a Publix apron asked if he could return my basket for me. Now, I always park as close to the basket return as I can get, and Luna doesn’t get unloaded first anymore.
4. My body is so not my body. Having a baby does a number on your body. My hair, nails, skin, eyesight, blood pressure, belly button and even my teeth have changed. I have so much to hold over this poor child’s head.
5. I know where every decent bathroom is located. When you have to breastfeed and change diapers in public, you very quickly learn which stores and restaurants have decent places to sit and changing tables. Shockingly, many places do not even have changing stations. And, in case you’re wondering Nordstroms has the BEST bathrooms. They have a super clean, comfortable, spacious and private room just for Mothers. There are chairs for breastfeeding, enormous changing tables, mirrors, end tables, sinks and very clean women’s restrooms are connected. It’s totally worth walking across the mall.
6. I have never ever had so much respect and appreciation for my parents, and I respected them a lot before I had Luna. Raising a kid is hard, scary and freaking awesome. Luna is only one and I am already so proud of her. My heart breaks when she cries. I miss her when we are separated for more than an hour. I want nothing but the best for her, and suddenly everything my parents said and did (well almost everything) makes so much sense. I get it now, I’m a parent too.
7. You do not need half of the baby crap you will buy, and what you buy you will only use for a very short amount of time. There should be some sort of system in place where all Moms rotate their baby gear from new Mom to new Mom.
8. We watch way too much TV. I like to have the TV on 90% of the time. Not because I want to sit and watch TV all day, but because I like having the background noise. Being in silence with my own thoughts is rarely a place I want to be. I prefer to have reruns of Friends, The Office or Gilmore Girls constantly playing through the house. It’s comforting, like having an old friend over. However, I do not want Luna to be in the habit of watching so much TV. We have had to change our habits, and we now play a lot of music… and mix in some TV, especially in the evenings.
9. I miss my family more than ever. I have lived far away from home for about 8 years now, but this is by far the most I have missed everyone. I want my Mommy all of the time! Also, I want Luna to have more time with her Grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousin and all of my long-distance friends too. Thank God for Skype and smart phones!
10. My baby wins. I know that every parent thinks their baby is the cutest. Before we had Luna, Husband and I often talked about this phenomenon, and thought some parents must know that they’re kid is not actually the cutest, smartest, funniest most talented kid. However, now we have Luna, and I must tell you, she actually is the cutest baby ever.
11. Sleep is a luxury I miss severely. I have always been able to function on little sleep, but I was also always able to sleep-in here and there. When I taught Elementary school I usually slept about 4 hours a night, but on the weekend I would sleep-in until my heart’s desire. If I went out on a Friday night, I could stay out until the sun came up and sleep the next day away or enjoy a nice Netflix marathon. Now, if we go out at night I stare at the clock and constantly think “in 5 hours I have to get up… in just 4 hours I have to get up…” I miss you, sleep.
12. The last one is one I have heard time and time again, but I didn’t really get it until I too was a parent. I love Luna more than I ever could have imagined. It’s true, you don’t understand this kind of love until it happens. I love Peter, I love him more than I could ever put into words. I ‘m completely mad about him, but my love for Luna is entirely different. She is our entire world, she’s everything.
What did you learn after having a baby?