I actually wrote this a few years ago in honor of a sister in law who was pregnant with her first child. It has been published several times, online, including Helium.com and in print. As Mother’s Day is fast approaching, I thought I’d post it here as well.
Welcome to the sorority of motherhood. You’ve done the Lamaze, read all the books; you’ve gazed wistfully at those tiny pairs of favorite slacks hanging in your closet. You’ve prepared the baby’s room and have the doctor’s number on speed dial. You think you are all prepared for what lies ahead. But there are a few areas that no book or class can quite prepare you for. As a friend and sorority sister, I am going to clue you in to those little secrets all mothers learn.
Sleep: Pregnancy prepared you for short sleep times. The baby will need to eat or be changed or both every few hours. If you are nursing, you are it. Dad ain’t got the equipment, and besides WWIII isn’t going to wake him up at 3 am.
Multi-tasking: When the baby gets older, he will have a scary dream, and you will sleepily let him climb in with you. You will soon learn to sleep with an elbow in your ear, a foot in your rib, and a strangely warm but damp feeling creeping underneath you. This will last till grade school.
You have eyes, ears, a mouth and two arms and two legs. Plan on using all of these simultaneously and all with individual tasks. Here is an example.
You are on the phone with the pediatrician (holding the phone with your shoulder), while looking for your car keys, while listening for the dryer to buzz, while zipping the baby’s jacket, while keeping him from eating your earring, while opening the door with one foot while keeping the cat outside with the other. You will get very, very good at this.
Romance: The number one reason there are baby-sitters. Even though romance caused the baby, the baby now has the ability to thwart romance at every turn. GO OUT! Or pray that baby will sleep just 15 more minutes.
Listening Skills: Not only will you be finely tuned to the sounds of your baby’s voice, you will also be able to pick his cry out from a room full of crying wee-schoolers. WARNING! All small children seem to say “Mommy” almost exactly alike in certain conditions, like at a playground. Don’t be surprised to go answer the Mommy call along with ten other moms. Don’t worry, the child will sort out the correct Mommy.
Art Appreciation: Your refrigerator is your child’s personal art gallery and bragging corner. This will last for at least 18 years. Decorate around it. Toddlers also delight in the wonders of nature. They are master explorers and discoverers. You must lose your fear and repulsion of frogs, bugs, worms, dirt, and undecipherable lumps. Enjoy their curiosity. Try sharing with them the excitement of their find before they eat it.
Education: Read up on everything you can or leave the TV on the Discovery Channel, 24/7. The “Why” stage is coming. You cannot out-why a 4 year old. Every answer prompts a new why question. “I don’t know” prompts a why, “I’ll tell you later” prompts a why, “Go ask your father” prompts a why question. That is why God invented kindergarten.
Housecleaning: It will be a long, long time before you see your house totally clean for longer then it takes for your child to take a nap. But that’s ok, life is short. Dirt will always be here, children grow up. Leave the vacuum in the closet and go play tag with your child.
Entertainment: Telle-tubbies, Barney, Veggie Tales, Bob the Builder. You will get very, very familiar with these characters. You will get very, very familiar with the songs that go along with these characters. You will sing the theme songs to these programs in your sleep, or Barney’s “I love you” will keep you up at night. Thankfully your child will eventually outgrow those shows and prefer programs like “Power Rangers” a slight improvement on the intelligence scale. Very slight.
Humor: Don’t ever lose it. Children can drive you bananas sometimes, but right before they send you over the edge, they make you laugh at something they say or do. Enjoy every phase of their life. In a blink they are born, the next blink they are walking, the next playing t-ball, the next driving a car. You will laugh, cry, worry, yell, sing, punish, reward. You will have moments of great disappointment and of great pride. All are part of the great institution of motherhood. It’s exhausting, never ever boring, but oh so worth it.
Welcome to the club sister.