Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Knowing What I Know

I've got 5 kids under my belt. And, when I say "under my belt" what I mean is, "I need a serious Kate Gosselin-style tummy tuck."

Having 5 kids officially puts me into the "Are you crazy?" category. Which would offend some people who have 5 kids. But me? I'm too busy wiping up baby barf or cheking homework papers or putting together school lunches assembly-line-style to care about that. When I tell people I have 5 kids, they always 1)raise their eyebrows, 2) say, "really?" and 3) ask, "Well, are you going to have any more?" To which I always reply, "Well, why not? It's already pretty crazy. I can't imagine it would get much worse."

So anyway, having 5 kids doesn't mean I did things the same way 5 times. Some things I tried to duplicate but those damn kids just HAD to go and be all "unique" and "special". Sheesh, they are so inconsiderate.

One thing is for sure: I laugh at myself as a first-time mom. I was such a bumbling mess. As a matter of fact, the name of this blog "Who Put Me In Charge Of These People" came from my memory of sitting in the hospital, when Peppermint Patty was just 2 days old, and they were ready to discharge me and force me to go home. I couldn't help feeling that these people were WAY too remiss about just handing over this tiny human to me: someone who clearly didn't have her shit together. They seemed awfully trusting and all too eager to let me have charge of a small, helpless baby with so very many working parts - parts that I needed to learn how to navigate. I think at the time, I was afraid of the unknown more than I was afraid of messing up. I could handle having a sick baby, but what if the baby was sick and I didn't know where to take her or how to help her? What if she had some illness and the doctors dismissed me as being a nervous mother; would I trust them or would I get a second opinion? What do I do if she doesn't meet her milestones on time? How do I teach her to make friends? How do I stand back and let her do things on her own?

Being a first-time mom is not just about the care and feeding of a baby. Being a first-time mom is about learning who this person is that's half of you and half of your husband. This new person will be with you forever. Being a first-time mom is all about growing, and learning the HARD lessons, and putting yourself second because NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU THOUGHT YOU'D DONE THAT BEFORE, REALLY, YOU DIDN'T.

Being a first-time mom changed me. For the sake of some of my friendships, I'd like to say that it didn't change me, and that I'll always be the same person I was before I had kids. But that's not true. And to a person who's never had kids, this will sound snobby or eliteist or something, but, it changed me in a way that can never be understood by a person who's not had kids. It changed my world view. It changed my hopes for humanity as a whole. It changed the view I had about myself. I could not have made those changes had I not become a mother.

I'm still learning, every day, 10+ years into this mothering gig. In many ways, I'm still a first-time mom. My daughter hasn't had her heart broken yet, she hasn't broken a bone, she hasn't had an argument with me. She will have a lot of firsts and I hope she wants me to be a part of them too. So, to all the moms out there who are expecting their first child, I can give you the stock advice: don't sweat the small stuff, enjoy them and don't stress yourself out, sleep when they sleep, yada yada yada. All that advice is good and true and spot on. But, instead, I'd like to suggest something different: expect the unexpected. You won't be able to watch shows about kidnapped children anymore. Your purse will suddenly need to be 3 times bigger. You will memorize the words to the Barney song. You will go to Kindergarten again. All the things you swear you'll never do, you'll do.

If you think I'm wrong, just bookmark this post and come back here in a year or two. It's okay. I won't tell anyone.

This post is part of Mamakat's Writers Workshop. Go over there and see some other great posts!

Mama's Losin' It


Gigi said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean - how could the hospital possibly send me home with this little being?? I didn't have a clue (and truth be told? 15 years later - I still don't). And no it's not being elitist to say you change when you become a mom - because it's true. You change in so many ways, big & small.

And by the way, yes yard work (and the painting I'm currently doing) counts as exercise! ;-)

Bridgett said...

Oh my gosh having a baby, looking back a year later, made me such a better person. And so much smarter.

Jennifer said...

That is ALWAYS my first line of advice to new parents. Everything you thought, is wrong. All your plans are turned upside down. Everything you thought was a certain way is not the opposite of that. Being a mother completely changes your perspective.

nicole said...

Yes! I could have written this post. I always tell people that the hardest transition was going from no kids to one kid (as we expect our sixth). Now most of the challenges are more about details and schedules and such. I also tell people I pray for patience and the grace to be less selfish and I keep having kids--I think there is a correlation. ;)

Aunt Crazy said...

My kids are 17 and 13 and I'm still bumbling my way through parenting.

Karen said...

Awewsome post! I am still bumbling my way through this mothering thing and my kids are 24 and 29 years old. Now I am learning how to be a nice mother in-law who leaves all the hair in their bathroom floor alone.

Foursons said...

Your on. The other advice- it's good. But yours- yours is the important stuff.

Sturgmom said...

"Being a first-time mom is all about...putting yourself second because NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU THOUGHT YOU'D DONE THAT BEFORE, REALLY, YOU DIDN'T."

Classic!! And SO SO SO true.

Fantastic post!

Frogs in my formula said...

Aw, I LOVE this post.