The Top 10 Surprises of Parenthood

“It will change your life,” everyone said, when I was pregnant. And, while I ended up disagreeing with them on the finer points, they weren’t wrong about this.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 surprises that motherhood has brought me:

10. The fun didn’t stop. I addressed this more in this post. Other people kind of implied that we would have to “grow up.” In fact, moved out of the trailer park and bought our house, because people said our kid would need more room. We were foolish to listen to the advice regarding this. Yes, our dreams needed to be modified, but, in reality, not much needed to be changed. Beanie is just a member of “us.”

9. It’s not a question of what the put first: our marriage or our kid. It’s about putting our family first. If we need some couple time, then that becomes the priority. If Beanie needs more attention, then it’s all about her. It’s about getting all three of us what we need.

8. I stopped caring about superficial things. I used to “strategically” highlight my hair. I used to worry about wrinkles. Then, my husband was there when I gave birth, which is not the most dignified moment in any woman’s life. And guess what? He left with nothing but more respect and admiration for me. So I still take care of myself, but I don’t sweat the small stuff. I now have “white highlights.” They actually work very nicely. And I’ve become proud of my smile lines. AND, even though I hide none of my signs of aging, I still get carded…

7. I stopped caring about what other people think. I talked about this more in this post. I was going to do what I thought was right with my baby, and that meant putting up with some comments. After I had the courage to breastfeed for an extended period of time, pick up my baby when she cried, treat her reflux–first with medication then with diet, discipline her without spanking, and so on, it was not a large step to stand up to conventional thinking in other aspects of my life.

6. I revisited my priorities. For as long as I can remember, I felt like my job was my calling. I was put on this earth to teach those children, so I had no problem with staying at work late, sometimes very late. When I talked to my friends, the topic was usually my job. (Unfortunately, it was out of balance with my marriage, but my poor husband put up with it). Then, suddenly, I had a new calling. I still give my students my best, but afternoons and evenings are Beanie’s time. Family time has become very important. I have been working on achieving some much-needed balance.

5. I discovered who I was. Because I had the courage to be different, I was free to, finally, find myself. I found that I had passions I never knew existed. We’ve really found our identity as a family.

4. I can be a mama bear, if need be. I was always one to let the experts be the experts. Now, I realize that I am the expert on the Beanie, and I won’t work with people who do not recognize that. This meant changing doctors when the Bean’s pediatrician did not respect my point of view. In the end, it’s led to Beanie being healthier and making more progress.

3. A colicky baby can make or break a marriage. Beanie had a difficult start. After that first sleepless night, I went through the day in a haze, bursting into tears when my friend called to see how the baby was doing. Rob came home from work that evening (also very tired), with a rose, a candle, and The Hunt for Red October. He said the rose was because, if we were going to make it through this, we would have to do it together. The candle was from Beanie, because she knew I would figure out was wrong with her. The (very long) movie was for us to watch the next night she was up crying. Tough times require that both parents work as a team.

2. Yes, I would do crazy things. No I was not martyring myself. I have a friend who pumped exclusively, every 3 hours, for 9 months. I thought she was insane! Why martyr yourself, when there is formula available at the store? Then I borrowed her pumping machine, sometimes having to lock myself in the bathroom at work to use it. I washed cloth diapers. I went on a crazy diet to try and treat Beanie’s reflux. I slept in a hospital crib. This isn’t martyrdom. It’s loving someone so much that I will do whatever it takes to give her the best.

1. I never expected to fall so in love. I tear up when I read people’s birth stories, because I remember the first time I saw my Beanie. The first time I saw her, I said “You’re beautiful–I love you!” Yes, she’s my child and I need to make sure I teach her right from wrong. But she’s also my little pal.

I hope parenthood has brought/will bring great surprises for you as well!

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