Before every life changing event you always get lots of advice and warnings from all the experienced people who have "been there, done that." Some of it good, some of it - though well intentioned- really lousy. The trick is to just filter through it all and apply what feels right for you. I can clearly remember right before I got married all the tid bits of unsolicited advice I received. Things like: "remember the first year is always the hardest." or "don't ever go to bed angry" or "you're still in the honeymoon phase; just wait until after you get married and you find out who you really married!" Well to be honest, the first year was really wonderful. To be sure, there were some adjustments and struggles but most of them didn't come from "finding out who I really married." Most of the hardships I experienced in the first year were from living 3,000 miles away from the place I called home for 22 years of my life and adjusting to a new culture and life. But I digress - that's a whole other post for another day.
So when we got pregnant and I received all this advice like "enjoy the time alone while you can" or "get in your sleep now because you won't be getting a lot once he arrives" or my favorite was when my manager said, pointing to my nine month bloated belly, "they (meaning babies) are a lot easier to take care of in there then they are out here so enjoy your solitude." That comment really irritated it me since it came from a guy and my first thoughts were "typical guy comment. He has absolutely no clue how tough it is to be carrying around another person 24/7." So to most of these well intentioned comments I just politely smiled and maybe even forced a courtesy laugh but inside I was thinking "What is wrong with people? Why are there so many pessimists when huge events like this happen? I am sure this will be just like when I get married and everyone tried to tell me how hard it was going to be. I'm sure there will be some nights where I go with out sleep or need a break but it won't be that bad. After all, this is my child and I know that once he is born I will just instantly fall in love with him and I won't adopt this cynical, selfish attitude everyone else seems to get after they have children. "
Well after being peed on who knows how many times (I've lost count), feeling guilty over fulfilling some of my simple basic needs (like showering, or if I am feeling adventurous, putting on make-up ), after trying the 100th thing to try to get Toby to sleep so I could actually catch some Z's, and crying because of feeling overwhelmed and completely exhausted, I finally had to admit my naivety. The moment of concession came around 3 am and I was on the bathroom floor with Toby in his car seat next to me and I was desperately trying to lull him into slumber with the bathroom fan (I won't go into how I had actually discovered this soothing tactic). My perspective of all those who gave me advice changed from seeing them as pessimists, to seeing them as realists. Being a mom is probably the hardest job I've ever undertaken. Every other job I have experienced only lasted 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. And on the tough days I could just go home, complain to my husband about the days events, and then flip on the TV to relax. This job is a 24 hour, 7 day a week job with little or no breaks, with a strict 2-3 hour feeding schedule, with lots of "dirty work" and plenty of overtime. I have such a deep and profound respect for my parents seeing now only a glimpse of what they endured through with raising 7 children (holy cow! how did they do it?).
But I will say that I still take the "mom job" over any other job I have had. Even though I don't receive monetary payment for the work I do, I don't get consistent praise for a job well done or regular feedback letting me know on the areas I need to change or improve, the "mom job" has its own special dividends. All those "realists" left out all the fun, rewarding moments that make the tough ones bearable. Like the other day I smiled at Toby and he looked straight into my eyes and gave me a huge smile back. Also the times when he makes funny little grunts and squeals when he wants to be picked up makes me laugh. And just the fact that Nick and I created this beautiful, healthy baby boy that has little bits of both of us in him makes all the hard times so worth it. Never in my life have I experienced such an extreme range of emotions all at the same time - exhaustion, frustration, and constant worry mixed with an overwhelming amount of love, joy, and yes - fun! I feel very blessed and honored to hold my new title as a mother and look forward to all the wonderful experiences that awaits our little family.