Surprise #1: Your relationship with your partner will change
Surprise #2: You’ll have no idea where the time goes
Surprise #3: You may look different
Surprise #4: You’ll join an exclusive worldwide club
Surprise #5: You’ll be stronger than you ever imagined
Surprise #6: You’ll make “mistakes” you never anticipated
Surprise #7: Your friendships will change
Surprise #8: There’ll be times when you hate parenting
Surprise #9: You’ll be overwhelmed by love (and other emotions)
Surprise #10: You’ll have to let go sooner than you think
No matter how much you prepare for it, parenting will blow your mind.
Your kids will challenge you, bring you to tears, crack you up, and make you forget what you urgently had to do. They’ll shatter the life you knew into a million pieces. Then they’ll put it back together, like a stained-glass window, into something infinitely more complicated and beautiful.
While every parent’s biggest surprises are different, there are common themes to the ways that kids revolutionize our lives…
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Fighting during the first year of the baby is, I have found out, very common. One Sunday, Father’s Day it actually was, I took off to get some refuge at my friends’ house like I always do after Ryan and I had a fight. I called my eldest sister to talk and cried on the phone with her for hours. I could not talk to my friends about my issues since none of them are married. I was one of the first ones in all my many groups of friends to get married and for a time longed the company of married women like myself for some good talk about married life; and all the more did I look for mothers after I had the baby. Now I even join online groups for moms just so I would have an outlet for the myriad of issues I come across with and, sometimes, just to know that I am not doing so bad as a mother. My sister told me there will be a lot of fights as exhaustion and stress build up. It happens. It’s normal. We’re all just humans anyway and taking care of a baby is just really hard. That was just one of the many times I am thankful that I have sisters and that they are mothers like me too; and even more that they were mothers before I was.
Though most of my friends say I look the same, I know I don’t. Some of them say I am prettier. I think only because I have gained weight and this added weight looks good on me. At 95 lbs, I am still actually 5 lbs off from my ideal weight and 10 lbs off from the standard ideal weight for my height class. I have always wanted more weight on my frame, it just was so difficult to meet the 6,000 calories per day my nutritionist-dietitian recommended. More than the added weight, my body shape is different. Aside from a fuller chest, I now have wider hips and bigger thighs. It came as a surprise to me when two months after I had the baby, I took out the box of shirts I stored last January and found that eighty percent of my shirts did not fit me anymore. My body shape is different, but I love it.
I was never a party girl and thus did not have friends who were all about partying. I had different sets of friends, some of them drink a lot, some of them drink socially and some of them don’t drink at all. I stopped drinking beer back in 2005 and only had cocktails thereafter. I stopped having cocktails too in 2007. (I still smoke though, because it really is a hard habit to break.) I still see most of my friends. We still have good times together. I try not to talk too much about babies though, only when they ask, so as to avoid making my friends uncomfortable. Most of them do not have kids and some of them do not even have boyfriends. It’s a girl thing. I am happy though that at twenty-seven, I have friends (few they may be) who are now planning to get married or are planning to have kids of their own. It means our friendship will grow stronger. I am excited for them and excited at being able to possibly help them out too.Â People evolve and it is only natural that friendships do too. Friendships are still relationships and like all other relationships, it has to be nurtured. Nurturing relationships come from a common desire to maintain communications or in other words, simply not let each other go. I am very grateful that I have managed to, so far, make such wonderful friendships. My friends are one of the things I think about when I am down, and that never fails to make me smile.
I had my first Mother’s Day a month after I had the baby and though there weren’t any gifts or even a hint of a celebration, just simple text greetings on the phone, I felt every minute of it. I got teary-eyed at every Mother’s Day commercial I saw on TV. I was even crying at the opening scene of Star Trek. I have always been such a cry-baby, but now that I am a mother, I am even more so.
Surprisingly, even if they said it would, my relationship with my own mother did not change at all. My mother and I never got along and we have always had a strained relationship. She almost never goes anywhere with just me. For a long time I dreaded having a child of my own because I was so afraid of what my own relationship with my own daughter was going to turn out. When I was pregnant, I even prayed the child I was carrying inside me was not a girl. As a child, I made my mother cry one too many times, perhaps even as an adult and, perhaps even now, and that made my mother say, “You made your mother cry. Your own daughter will too.” So afraid was I of this curse my mother put on me that I was not too happy when we confirmed, a week before I gave birth, that the child I was carrying inside me was indeed a girl. Now that I think about it, my daughter’s making her mother cry, was one inevitable fact.
We will always make our mothers cry. Be it out of sorrow or joy.
I cried and cried when I left my baby on top of the pillow and found her moments later, crying face down on the bed. When I first saw her face down on the bed like that, my first thought was, “Oh God I hope she is not dead!”, but she was crying and therefore was very much alive. I cried and cried because I felt so guilty for leaving her on top of the pillow like that and because I realized that the fear of losing my child is very real. It used to be that my biggest fear in life is losing everything in a fire but now that has been undeniably and understandably surpassed by the fear of losing one’s child. Material things are just material things but people, especially one you carried inside for thirty eight weeks, went through hours of labor for and made the center of your life, are worth more than any material thing I have, ever had and will ever have.
I have only been a mother for three months and have already shed a lot of tears. I know there will be more but it’s something I am prepared to have. Only because I love. I will cry buckets if I have to, and maybe, I even want to.