Tuesday, February 19, 2008

12 Things No One Tells You About Motherhood

Here's an article I found on Parents.com which pretty much reveals the untold mysteries of motherhood.

The New You

1. Your abs will never recover. (I beg you, do not look at post-Violet pictures of Jennifer Garner in a bikini. Take my word on this. You're fragile enough as it is, postpartum.) Go ahead and do Pilates, do crunches until the cows come home, but your prebaby abs have left the station. The more important thing is: you won't care. Much.

2. If your relationship with your mother-in-law is not so great, be prepared for it to improve. If your relationship with your mother-in-law is great, be prepared for it to suffer a bit. I realize this is a strange equation. But adding a baby to the mix has some quirky effects. If you and your mother-in-law have never really seen eye-to-eye, you may be surprised to discover that a baby provides new common ground. You both find him adorable! She may shock you with her nonjudgmental advice and appreciation of your mothering. And even if she's not your biggest fan, she may hold her tongue (when she never has before) because she knows you're the person with the power to grant her access to her grandchild. (Suddenly, you're like the doorman at the hippest club in the city.) On the flip side, if you and your mother-in-law have always been superclose, a baby could create unexpected tension. She may feel free to barrage you with unsolicited advice. If you're experiencing any baby-related conflicts with your husband, she may side with him. Retain your manners and trust your own instincts (as the great Dr. Spock said, way back in the day, you know more than you think you do), and your relationship with her will survive.

3. A salon pedicure will become the emotional and spiritual equivalent of a trip to the Bahamas.

Strange Surprises

4. You will learn a new mathematical formula: take the number of hours you stared, enchanted, into the face of your high school boyfriend. Multiply that by 100 for the amount of time you will stare at the face of your sleeping child.

5. As a good friend confided, "I was shocked that such a tiny baby could fart so loudly!"

6. You will make friends with people you never thought you would be friends with. Momdom creates strange alliances. You connect with a random woman in the playground about your shared nursing difficulties or about the anguish of letting your child cry it out at night. Suddenly, you're allies for life. Sadly, there's a corollary: be prepared for friendships to fall by the wayside after you have kids. You may no longer have the energy to make longstanding, if troubled, relationships work.

You & Him

7. You will be massively irked by your husband several times a day. Then you'll watch him in Daddy mode -- announcing, "You take a nap, Honey, I've got things covered"; singing the Ramones' "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" as a lullaby; giving your toddler horsie rides until she screams with laughter -- and forget every irritated thought you ever had.

8. If someone rudely questions your parenting judgment (breastfeeding? not? going back to work? not? sleep training? not?) only once a week, you're ahead of the curve.

9. You will realize with terrifying clarity that your baby will do everything he can to remain an only child by making sure you never have sex again.

The Big Picture

10. Your movie and TV tastes will change. Kidnapped babies? Small children in jeopardy? Widowed young moms? Forget about it. Sweetie, let's just rent Knocked Up again.

11. Self-congratulatory about your awesome parenting? Hang on, that'll change. Self-lacerating about being the worst mom on earth? Hang on, that'll change. Here's what I mean. Your kid may sleep through the night at six weeks, seldom cry, and eat like a champ. You tell yourself it's because of your level-headed, consistent parenting. Guess what? By the time he turns 5, your champion eater will become a French-frytarian and your champion sleeper will pop out of bed a million times a night demanding water or sobbing that she needs you in the chair all night long. The baby who didn't walk until he was 15 months old and refused to share, well, that kid turns into a star athlete, famous for his generous ball-passing and assists, whom teachers praise for his flexibility and independence. I didn't really understand until I had my second child how little I was responsible for my first child's good and bad traits. For instance, I proudly believed that Josie was a book lover because I read to her from birth; well, I read to Maxine, too, yet she would much rather play with her veterinary kit than sit with a book for two minutes. The upshot? Parenting is like New England weather; if you wait a few minutes, it'll change. The best advice of all: try to stay in the moment and enjoy both the sunshine and the squalls ahead.

12. Girls clothes get more space in the store, and it's universally acknowledged that baby and toddler girls are more fun to dress. This is deeply unfair to mothers of boys. But they'll get their revenge in three years, when moms of girls have to deal with hoochie-mama clothing for preschoolers.

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