Most people have all good intentions as they plan for their future with kids in it. No one plans to be an inadequate or less than able parent, we all want to be the best we can for our children. However, reality has a different plan altogether, even if we put in place the best strategies and catered for contingencies - you never really know what each new day will present. Parenting doesn't come with a manual, so they say, and those who've experienced it first hand will tell you the script is different from one parent or home to another. While we were growing up, we never quite understood why our parents behaved the way they did, or made certain weird choices, and its only until we became parents that we realize they too must have found themselves in the same woods. People who move from non-parents to being parents experience a kind of seismic identity shift. They come down from their high horses, and submerge themselves into the deep and enduring relationship with their children, while revising their plans as they go along. Parenting has a way of changing the self, more like giving you a new role and a new identity to go with it - that of a parent. Whether you carried the child for nine months, or had a gestational surrogate do it for you, or even if you adopted your kids, being a mom is the same across the board - its amazing - there's nothing like it. Here are 20 things that non-parents just won't understand about being a mom, until they become one.
20 We never tired, we're friggin' exhausted
Let's face it, moms are like superheroes. I mean, who makes time for a husband, children, the office, her girls, and her parents, all at the same time -and still wears a smile on her face - every day? If that is your mom, or you as a mom, we salute you. There's some kind of grace that comes with being a mom that you don't necessarily have when you're a non-parent. Its amazing how one person in the family can take up a lot of tasks, from cooking, cleaning, making sure everyone's well dressed and fed, putting up with different personalities and temperaments, and still have time to look good on a Sunday morning. It's hard. So yea, moms aren't just tired, because the right word...is exhausted!
19 Using spit to clean mystery dirt off kid's face is worth its weight in gold
“Ewww, Mom. Noooooooooo, not the spit!” That's how most, if not all kids react when mommy tries to get something off their little cheeks. Mom spit is a thing, and every mother knows that its much easier to use saliva to scrub off the schmutz. Imagine you're out at a public gathering or a function, and you notice an unusual mark on your child's face that needs a wet dab to wipe it off, but all you have in your purse is your lipstick, wallet and phone - what to do? Instead of running all the way to the washroom, a real mom will lick her thumb and use her spit to get it off. Moms act fast, so spit - in mommy world - is fast therefore worth its weight in gold - it works!
18 Mom jeans are your friend
There's a lot that goes unexplained when a woman becomes a mom. Her body undergoes many changes, so does her identity. When you become a mom, your identity is intertwined with mothering, you hardly remember the wife part. Clothes that used to fit don't fit the same even if you get back to the same body you had. So yea, mom jeans always come into the picture, not the blotchy ones, but just a comfortable pair that understands you. Moms also get exhausted and overwhelmed by the role, so its possible to develop a 'why bother' approach to appearance - it actually takes a back-burner compared to other stuff she's learning along the way.
17 That feeling of isolation
Have you heard of the 'Silent War'? Well, this is the stage where women are lost in motherhood, and end up fading away from themselves, their own passions and the things they like, without realizing it. At one point or another, moms face this crossroad, and its only when they're asked 'when was the last time you did...' that they actually notice they're in isolation. Mommyhood is a full time job, from diaper changes, to breastfeeding, checking homework, listening to the hubby go on about his day, cooking, and still play nurse and love magnet - its a rollercoaster. You actually become your own identity stealer, because you're not yourself anymore, even you don't know who you've become.
16 Co-sleeping/Passing out anywhere
Before the kids, there are always things you'd swear never to do once you become a mom. Well, most moms agree with you on this one. Most moms also figured they know everything about parenting and the best way to approach every situation, until they have to share a bed with the baby and they've been thinking all along that the child should learn to sleep on their own. News flash mama! Co-sleeping will happen, whether you like it or not, and you may not be able to stop it, why? Because, as moms will tell you, sometimes babies get sick and they need to be held because they may not be able to sleep flat on the bed - you are that crutch. Other times, you find yourself breastfeeding while lying down, and the only way to avoid the hassle of moving up and down at night to nurse is to bring baby closer - kills two birds with one stone, saves time, everyone is happy. Its a win-win!
15 Serious self-esteem issues (but then again, who cares)
You probably wonder why moms hardly get their hair did or they keep dressing the same old clothes almost on a daily basis. Well, one day you'll get it, if you're not a mom yet. Before the kids, most moms had the energy, time and the cash to get a good manicure, pedicure, facial, and even a massage if time allowed for it - and they never left the house sans makeup. The situation changes after kids come (though it isn't the ideal but it just happens), and this varies from one mom to another, but most moms are totally at home with their baggy sweatpants, thanks to putting the needs of a tiny human over her own, and sleep deprivation. There's hardly any time to try and lose the baby weight, shower, or even put on makeup - and perfume is a rumor.
14 Feeling overly emotional even when nothing is the matter
It is normal for moms to be super sensitive after having babies, and some of the mixed feelings or emotions that are all over the place include joy, fear, anger, sadness, doubt, and many others that a mom cannot even begin to describe. Sometimes it could be the exhaustion after the pregnancy, other times the body is just hypersensitive, and some cases it could be postpartum depression but this isn't always the case when you can't seem to hold back the tears. There are moments when the kids do something really cute and you just find yourself breaking into tears (usually of joy that you actually are doing something good in a little human's life). One lady shared on Parents.com that she cried nonstop for two weeks, not out of sadness but stupid reasons like her hubby hadn't vacuumed, or the baby was so sweet she couldn't stop hugging her.
13 Why mom cars are messy with food stains everywhere
Kids can create impressive messes in just a matter of seconds, if not minutes. The moment they can walk, run, climb or just move around by themselves, it is almost impossible to keep up with them, or the trail of disaster they leave behind. Whether it is in the home or in your car, messes will happen. Most moms admit to letting their housekeeping standards slip even after swearing the house would always be tidy before and after getting kids. Before the kids, even the tiniest of stains would not live on your floor, carpet, walls or table tops, until the children come and all that is thrown out the window. The car can always be cleaned when you get home, what's the rush, right? Your level of tolerance actually expands.
12 Kid having a meltdown or throwing a tantrum in public? No biggie
Tantrums, no one likes them, as much as moms have a way of working around them. Kids seem to have the perfect timing especially in public places like supermarkets, at the park, or some place that just has a large crowd. Sometimes you feel like they're little schemers who wait for the opportune moment just so they can get whatever they want - like when visitors suddenly show up at home. But once you become a mom, you learn your child over time, his behaviors, thoughts, and what makes him tick, which is why moms are always prepared for any eventuality - even a full blown tantrum.
11 Letting the kids play on tablets or cell phones
Until you become a mom, you may throw shade at those who let their kids play with their phones or tablets, or even the computer, because shouldn't they know that kids aren't supposed to be exposed to these gadgets this early? Sure, most moms know in the deepest part of their hearts that leaving their phones or tablets with the kids isn't good for them, but there's a reason why they do it - not necessarily all the time. There are moments when you the kids are hungry and you just need a few minutes to get the food ready, or you want to use the bathroom and can't go with them in there, so these devices come in as a handy distraction - if only for a moment - and with the appropriate content. But that's not to say that it is an acceptable practice.
10 There's a meal for baby and a separate course for everyone else
There's a reason why moms prepare separate meals for the kids and for the rest of the family. One of the major reasons is time, because kids cannot wait up to the time the full family meal is placed on the table, especially where there's no particular schedule or meal plan. Another reason is because their food is supposed to be simple (but creative), without the spices and salt levels that we add to the usual family meal. Sometimes mom prepares all meals at the same time so everyone can eat at the table together. Its something non-parents will just find themselves doing, or learning to do...naturally.
9 No sweat, no dirt, not going anywhere - no need to shower
Once you become a mom, stuff like exercising, manicuring your nails or spending time setting your hair in place, no longer seem like acts of caring for oneself. They're not necessary, at least not as important as spending quality time with your little one. The same goes for taking showers or washing your hair, and other beauty treatments. In fact, it gets worse because you start feeling less guilty about such things, or even showing up to the office with gross nails, because who cares! For moms who are nursing, showering is very important because of the daily contact with baby and breastfeeding, but as they grow, its a non issue.
8 Staying in pajamas on the weekends all day
When you become a mom, you'll realise some things aren't what they once were. Sleep has no particular pattern, sometimes you're an early bird, other times you hit the sack at ungodly early or late hours or take power naps whenever possible. Then there's the pajama moments when you find yourself waking up in them, and carrying on with your day without noticing you're still in pajamas, and there's nothing wrong with it. Its not that you're too lazy to take a shower and change into proper clothes, just that after kids, comfort is everything, so if it comes in that form, then so be it.
7 Why we're up to date on so many shows (we watch while pumping or breastfeeding)
Finding the time to sit and watch the backlog of episodes from your favorite series is harder when you become a mom. However, there are some few windows of opportunity that are made possible by breastfeeding that allow moms to sit through a thirty-minute show, whether its during the day or night, and if they stick to a daily routine, its possible to catch the same show every day at the same time, while feeding baby. And you wonder why moms know what's happening in the latest sitcoms, or which celebrity came on the Ellen Degeneres show every single day.
6 Breastfeeding in public is necessary (and its a thing)
Before becoming a mom, most women will swear that they wouldn't breastfeed in public. First time moms also use baby shawls or nursing covers the first few months to sort of 'hide' or maintain some privacy, and this issue can be controversial and kinda weird to do. Non parents also don't understand why moms want to breastfeed around others. Well, it doesn't take long for that perspective to change, because once baby number two comes in, there's no hiding it anymore, no more shame in doing it in public. The truth is you just have to get comfortable doing it anywhere or stay stuck in the house with your baby every day. The most important thing you'll learn is that the baby's needs come first, which is the need to nurse and subsequently gain weight appropriately - not your preferred environment.
5 A five-minute change in your daily routine can create tons of chaos the next day
You've probably met or have some mom friends who have a carefully by-the-minute schedule planned for their kids, and you wonder, can't you even spare five minutes? Well, that's just it, there's no time to spare - at least when you have kids. The reason is actually quite logical because with kids, if you have no fixed routine, then anything goes. Moms who understand how kids operate will tell you there's not a moment of resting while they're growing up, what with all the energy and curiosity. Right from the time they wake up, feed, bathe, play, take afternoon nap, up till the time they have their dinner, evening bath and back to bed again, everything has to be timed. The same thing happens when they start school, because after a day's activity, they'll need enough rest so they can wake up early enough the next day for school. Over time it becomes the norm - for everyone.
4 Child leashes become a necessity
Until one becomes a mom or parent for that matter, it is hard to understand why some folks put their kids on leashes. Well, if you're not ready to keep chasing after a toddler all over the park, supermarket, or in a public place, then you need some way to contain them, or at least keep them where you can see them. Child leashes are a controversial topic, I mean just by looking at it, you may get the feeling the child is being 'chained' or restrained from being free to move about and discover stuff. But they're actually pretty helpful because parents aren't worried about where their kids ran off to for as long as they're attached to mom or dad by a tether.
3 How difficult it is to go back to work
When mat leave is almost over, most moms start missing their babies even before the actual day that they're supposed to report back to work begins. There's just that feeling of missing out on the moments with their little loves, waking up next to them, watching them yawn, and feeding them, plus so much more. However, when they get back to the office, they're always determined to kick butt, well, not until a few months pass by and they realise they're just so tired, cranky, and in danger of burning up! While at home, the focus was just on baby and making sure the family is okay, but going back to work means more people and more tasks, so it really is draining. Sometimes you'll find yourself asking for more time, or thinking whether that job is really worth it.
2 We'll come back to you, we really will
With so much to do and raising the kids taking up almost three quarters of a mom's life, there's a tendency to procrastinate on stuff that isn't at the top of your priorities, like responding to chats on social media, or replying to a text on your phone as soon as it comes in - like you did before the kids came. Now that they're here, calling back or replying asap changes to replying an hour later, and sometimes that can take days or a month, but you someday you actually call back. It isn't that moms are snubs, its just the game has changed, and the rules...well, they're not cast in stone anymore. The deep phone conversations are non existent, in fact, if you get as much as ten minutes, you're lucky.
1 Goodbye weekly happy hours and GNOs
There's a time for everything, and moms know this all too well. Back when you were single, or a non-parent, there was time for any and everything under the sun, like the weekly happy hours or the girls night outs (GNOs), which suddenly went poof! when the little ones came into your life. The funny thing is, even when you plan and actually confirm that you're going to show up, sometimes you have to cancel the plans at the last minute, or go but leave a little earlier. No more sleepovers or staying out very late, because either the child doesn't feel too well, or cannot sleep without mommy tucking him in. You kinda get used to it.