That first year of parenting taught me so many things, but I would be lying if I said one of the biggest lessons I learned was the fact that there are just things no mom will admit she actually likes doing during baby’s first year of life, even if she actually does like them. Yes, that year is magical and wonderful and amazing. However, it’s also ridiculously challenging, messy, frustrating, and exhausting. It's understood (at least among my parent-friends) that we're not supposed to like everything about it. I'm not sure about everyone else, but if any of the moms in my mom's group started raving about spit-up or diapers or sleepless nights, the rest of us would probably throw our coffee cups at her and revolt. That's just not how it works. If I like something that everyone around me hates, I'm probably not going to talk about it (unless, it's Michael Bolton's '90s ballads. Wait, what? Who said that?).
Of course, to each their own. I can't begin to assume my own experience was universal enough to represent every other mom's. Still, it did give me some solid guesses about some things that many of us probably have in common. There are some lessons you can only learn from having a tiny infant crying into your shoulder, or calling for you in the middle of the night, or searching desperately for your breast, or you know, relying on you for their survival. And along with those lessons comes a shared appreciation that we can (almost) all relate to, for things like:
Frequent Doctor’s Appointments
Looking back, perhaps my partner and I were a bit, um, overzealous when it came to taking our baby to the doctor. It was trying to pack up our tiny son and all his gear on a regular basis, annoying to not have answers ourselves, and frustrating to have to go through so much trouble every time we needed reassurance (or, in some cases, genuine medical care. But, in most cases, it was reassurance). You will never hear me talk about this period fondly.
Exception: Maybe her baby is some sort of genius and the frequent confirmation her doctor gives her makes appointments awesome. This mom might tell you she likes doctor's appointments.
Pumping (If She Pumps)
Some aspects of pumping actually aren’t all that bad. The need to sit still and relax is nice. The privacy is a godsend. And, well, yeah. That's about it. The act of pumping itself isn’t fun (unless you like feeling like a cyborg cow, half-machine/half dairy-producing bovine). While I’m thankful for my pump, and for the assistance it provided during my breastfeeding adventures, I never was not wishing to be through a pumping session.
Exception: Maybe she has one of those hands-free pumping bras and has a favorite hobby or past time she can enjoy with her free hands. Speaking of which, does anyone want to teach me how to knit?
Enduring Baby’s First Cold/Sickness/Random Symptoms That Don’t Actually Mean Anything
I mean, baby sneezes are adorable, but it’s hard to enjoy something that means your child is uncomfortable. I'd trade infinity baby sneezes and at least a couple dozen snuggles if it meant my kid would have less colds in a year.
Exception: Nope. No exceptions here, no one likes seeing their kid sick.
Changing The Diaper Bin
I refrained from saying “all things diaper” are bad, because I do know some moms (OK, one mom) who swears she liked diaper changes because of the quality time they gave her with her kids. Instead, I’m going to go with changing out the diaper bin, because it forces you to face multiple dirty diapers all at once, and even though the technology can be impressive I never found a way to do it without releasing a bunch of stink into the air.
Exception: Um, she just really, really, really loves to clean?
Worrying Profusely About Every Small Issue...
You might be noticing a theme here. Even small concerns that didn’t require a trip to the doctor could still require research, Google, and late-night flipping through a a slew of reference books. OK, and a call to Poison Control and to my HMO’s 24 hour nurse hotline. Better safe than sorry, right?
Exception: Moms with awesome abilities to manage their moods, who can overcome nerves and fears through sheer mental will. I would imagine that, for these moms, small worries only make them stronger and more powerful.
...And Losing All The Sleep Over It
To be fair, our baby did a lot of things in the middle of the night. It wasn’t as if he only stirred to freak me out and then dozed off again. But, sometimes, it felt that way.
Exception: Maybe moms who like extra excuses to drink coffee? That's all I got.
Trying To Figure Out Her Own Clothing Situation
By “clothing situation,” I mean “accepting the fact that bodies don’t exactly snap back to the way they were before pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and dressing oneself accordingly.” I wore a hybrid wardrobe of my regular and my maternity clothes for months after giving birth, and I’m both expecting and preparing to do the exact same thing again after baby number two arrives.
Exception: Moms who say "f*ck it" and take the excuse to buy a new wardrobe. You guys are the true heroes.
Belly Button Maintenance
Remember all those frequent, zealous doctor’s appointments I mentioned? Yeah, we made an ER trip over my newborn's belly button stub. I know, I know. I’m not proud. I can't imagine this being too pleasant for other parents, either.
Exception: Maybe the non-squeamish mom who likes seeing signs of her baby's progress? Actually, I think I know a few of you, so this one's for you.
Tending To Leaky Body Fluids
At least we get kinda numb to it after a while, right? Like, I’m not really a fan of body fluids in general, but when it comes to a baby (especially a baby that’s mine), I have to admit that I’m pretty tolerant. And if those body fluids are my own, like a side effect of birth or breastfeeding? I mean, I still don’t like it, but at least it gives me something to relate to my child about.
Exception: moms who like having impressively gross stories to tell one another.
Having To Clear Out Her Phone Storage Space Every Two Weeks
For the record, I’m thankful that this time in our history brings us cell phones in all their picture-taking, streaming, texting glory. I remember the early days of AOL Instant Messenger and saving my favorite BSB photos to a hard drive in the late '90s, so my phone still blows me away sometimes. That said, if only there was a way for it to stop filling up every time my son does something cute, I’d trade my entire collection of Nick Carter jpegs.
Exception: Um, probably moms who take better care of their digital archives than me. So, most of you?