Before I had my kids, I truly believed I'd have some sort of "ah-ha" moment that would let me know when I was "ready" for children. In the near 11 years I've been a mom, however, I've experienced more than a few moments that made me realize there's no such thing as being "ready" for motherhood. Like, at all. In fact, if I'd waited until everything fell into place (when angels sing, apparently), I'd never have kids.
If I'm being honest, I have to admit that I'm not the kind of person who has ever been a huge fan of other people's kids, and if you'd asked me before the birth of my firstborn when I wanted to start "trying" for a family, I'd have laughed. Laughed, and then I probably would have walked away from the conversation completely. In my early 20s I'd just come out of a marriage that lasted four years out of high school, so I had just started dating the man that would eventually become my (now) husband and the father of my children. In other words, talk of family and settling down weren't part of our daily discussions. Ever. I mean, why give up all that fun for more responsibility?
Plus, I wasn't even sure I'd be a good mom. I survived a rough childhood that forced me to question a lot of things, including love, marriage, and all the things that make up what our family unit has become since. Marrying out of high school (and getting divorced four years later) only reminded me that maybe "family life" wasn't for me. So if I'd spent time waiting to be "ready," I'd still be waiting. With that in mind, here are some of the moments that helped me realize motherhood is something you learn to be ready for as it's happening.
When I Met My Baby For The First Time
There's no way to feel fully ready for those first moments after delivery. You can dream about it, ponder what it might feel like, and think you're ready, but once you're holding your baby you realize there's no form of readiness for motherhood. It comes at you slow at first, through pregnancy, then all at once this realization hits you like a freight train, full-steam ahead.
The first time I met my baby I knew I wasn't ready. I knew I didn't exactly know how to be a mom, too. However, from that moment on I promised I'd figure it all out.
When I Experienced That First Diaper Explosion
You've heard the stories about diaper blow-outs, right? They sound awful and disgusting and all-around terrifying, right? So, if you know that's a part of your future as a parent, it makes sense you'd want to avoid the whole thing and just stay child-free, right?
Yeah, that was kind of me. I wanted kids at some point, but when it came down to thinking about how gross it could be, I was like, "Yeah, I'd rather not." You can never be ready for the things I've seen when it comes to poop and pee, but I've also realized that you don't have to be. You'll get through it anyway.
When I Couldn't Stop Crying
Between my postpartum depression, and my fussy baby I had a hard time bonding with, it was easy to wonder what life would've been like if I had decided to stay kid-free. I certainly didn't feel ready for motherhood in any capacity. If anything, I felt like I was doing it all wrong and not cut-out for motherhood. I may have cried more than my daughter at some points because, honestly, parenting is that hard. However, now that my girl is older, I see being ready wouldn't have mattered or made it less challenging as we lived through it.
When My Baby Took Her First Steps
I couldn't wait for my kids to take their first steps, until they did. Once that milestone happened, I couldn't stop them if I tried (and I tried a lot). Being mobile meant I had to be aware of our surroundings more than usual and, well, it's tiring. There was no way I could be everywhere all the time, and yet, my babies didn't care. If anything, they became more frustrated when they couldn't walk further or faster. The only way through this stage is to let them take the lead (and don't let your eyes off of them).
When My Baby Started Teething
There's no around this one. It's just, hard. You can't always soothe the teething pain your little one is going through, and that makes the entire experience worse. I never felt like I was doing enough; never felt like I was enough for her.
When My Kid Was Hurt
I still remember the first time my daughter was semi-seriously injured. She fell from my bed and hit her head on the corner of our dresser. It was, of course, a blizzard outside and the nearby clinic was closed. We had to drive more than a few miles away, while I sat in hysterics trying to calm her in the backseat of the car. I jus kept thinking and re-thinking about the series of events that led to her fall.
The cut wasn't deep enough for stitches, but it didn't matter. Her pain was my pain. Had I known long before how much it would hurt me to see her hurt, I wouldn't have thought I could be that great of a parent. I know now that's just part of the gig.
When My Kid Was Old Enough To Start School
I cried the days each of my kids started school. No matter how much I did the self-pep-talk thing, or thought I was prepared to give my full attention to other areas (like work) while they were away, I still had a hard time letting them go. That's something I'll never feel ready for.
When Someone Hurts My Kid
My daughter's had some issues with other girls over the years. She seems to be the one they either turn to or turn on, and it all happens so quickly that there's little I can do to help. When I was her age, I didn't have so much drama so if you'd told me to brace myself for all her tween years would be, I'd have likely argued I'd be fine. I was wrong. Even still, I'm getting through it (kind of).
When My Kid Started Needing Me Less
Much like letting them go off to school without me, anytime they reach the next milestone of any kind — the ones where independence is the goal — I can't help but feel weepy. I started out wishing they'd learn to walk, talk, feed themselves, and wipe their own butts, only to look up and realize they don't need me for anything. It's jarring.
When My Kid Hit Puberty
No one in the history of humans has ever felt prepared for puberty. Whether you're going through it or you're the parent of someone who is, you can' possibly feel ready. My daughter's at the age where body image and self-awareness are king, and although I thought I knew how I'd talk about these things, now that the time is here I realize I have no clue what I'm doing.
When I Couldn't Make Things Better Instantly
There's nothing worse than seeing your child upset about something, knowing there's little you can do to make it better. I want to be the one to take their pain away but the hard lessons of motherhood is, sometimes, I won't be able to.
No one is ever really ready for what parenting has in store for them. The biggest lesson I've learned is that the only way to deal is by going through it. No matter what you think you'll feel about it, you won't know until it's happening. Actually, I think that's the best part.