From the moment you announce your pregnancy until the end of time and space and the universe as we know it, you'll be told, "There's nothing quite like motherhood." To a certain extent, this is true. It's difficult to describe parenthood and the massive amount of beautifully confusing juxtapositions it provides: Motherhood fills you up and leaves feeling drained; Motherhood gives you another sense of purpose and can leave you feeling lost; Motherhood makes you unapologetically happy and unbelievably frustrated. There are so many instances and emotions that seem exclusive to parenthood and, as a result, are complicated to correctly explain, comprehend and (every now and then) endure.
Then again, sometimes the parallels between motherhood and other life moments are obvious and simple, and you notice that parenting is a lot like past experiences, so (thankfully) you have a pool of knowledge to draw from. Like, for instance, your freshman year of college.
OK, just stick with me here.
While early motherhood and early college might not seem similar at first glance, they are exactly alike. I'm talking painfully similar, you guys. Sure, your financial status may have changed and maybe you're not staying up until 4 a.m. writing long-winded papers, but your first year of motherhood might as well be day one of orientation. Here are just a few ways motherhood is exactly like freshman year of college and, hey, if you can get through Economics 101, you can get through your baby's first year of life.
You Don't Sleep
You lose a lot of sleep your first year of college. This is not news. There are reports to write and papers to edit and, of course, a social life to be had. Eight hours of sleep turns into three or four and you think that is just fine because you have coffee and energy drinks and youth on your side.
You lose a lot of sleep your first year of motherhood too, but instead of reports there's night feedings and instead of papers there's night feedings and instead of a social life there's night feedings. The baby is up every 2-3 hours to eat and whether you're breastfeeding, bottle feeding, taking turns with your partner or having to tackle it alone, it's exhausting.
Someone's Constantly Trying To Get At Your Boobs
In college, a large number of hormone-fueled, newly independent teenagers (you guys, were were seriously still teenagers back then) probaly found your breasts to be fascinating. Maybe they had never seen a real set before or maybe they think eye contact happens below the collar bone or maybe they were just idiots, but more than a fair share of drunken dude bros tried to get at your tatas. (Ugh, freshmen.)
If you're breastfeeding, your baby will constantly be getting at your boobs, only this time, it's for actual food so you (maybe) don't mind as much. It can still be annoying because it's your body and you've already allowed another life to inhabit it for ten months and a little space would be nice, but you're a mom and you chose breastfeeding and so now your boob is out for half the day (which probably would've made the unbearable freshman bros happy).
You Get Thrown Up On A Lot
In college, it was your roommate or a drunken frat guy or some random partygoer who couldn't handle that ill-advised last shot. You were either in the wrong place at the wrong time or you were being a great friend, helping someone into their bed and out of their (now-ruined) clothes.
As a mother, you're being spit up on after feeding time and while you burp and your clothes are quickly starting to smell like baby vomit. In fact, it can happen so frequently that you don't necessarily notice it and you have to live through a stranger pointing out a string of vomit slowly dripping off of your shirt at the super market. (OK, yes, maybe that exact thing happened to me.)
You Find Yourself Often Wishing Your Mom Was There
Whether you're calling to ask about separating your clothes to wash them or wondering about insurance to just needing some emotional support, calls to mom are frequent during your first year of college and your first year of motherhood. You need some advice from someone who has "been there, done that," someone who loves you unconditionally — in spite of and especially when you screw up — and, well, you're never too old to need your mother.
Your Body Goes Through Some Changes
In college, you might gain weight or lose weight, but even if you don't, it seems like your body goes through a "hey, I'm a grown up now" set of changes. During your first year of motherhood, your body is totally adjusted after doing the awesome task of having a baby: your hips are probably a little wider and your breasts are maybe a little bigger and, just like with pregnancy, your postpartum body changes dramatically. It's like awkward adolescent puberty all over again, but with babies.
There's A Lot Of Talk About Sex
In college, it seems like everyone is talking about getting laid or how they just got laid or their plans to get laid or how they have no intention of having sex with some person, or definitely will die if they don't get to have sex with some person. Sex is a big issue during your first year of college.
Likewise, during your first year of motherhood, sex is probably on your mind quite a bit. You're wondering if you'll ever have sex again and asking your doctor if you're cleared for "sexual activity." You and your partner are wondering if there's even enough energy between the two of you to take your pants off. Sex is an important part of life. Freshman year made that glaringly obvious and not even motherhood can change that. (Because, yes, moms like getting laid you guys.)
You Stress Out About Reports
During your freshman year of college, you had mid-terms and finals and waiting for your teacher to post grades was so stressful. You studied (maybe) and felt prepared (sort of) and you wanted to know if your hard work (ha) paid off.
During your first year of motherhood, you stress out over your child's pediatrician report. You calculate percentages to wonder how your kid's doing with height and weight and is your kid's head too big? No, that's a normal sized head. You study baby books and read about developmental milestones and hope that your baby is hitting all of them when they should be.
You Start To Think Freedom Is Overrated
Remember that moment in college when you procrastinated (you know, that one time, hahahaha...ah..uh..ugh...yeah) and you realized you were the only person responsible for your decisions? Remember when you started thinking that the whole "grown up" thing was really overrated and hey, curfews aren't that bad, are they? Yeah, you experience that when you become a mother too.
Every mother (OK, maybe it's just me) has that moment when she thinks that the freedom of being a grownup and getting to have a baby is overrated. Sure, you're the adult now and you get to make all the rules but wow, talk about responsibility and pressure! Can't someone just make you dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and tuck you in for a nice nap?
You Second Guess Your Decisions
You'll be hard-pressed to find a college freshman who didn't, at one time or another, wonder what the hell they were thinking when they enrolled. Realizing that you're willingly putting yourself through (and paying for!) that one Statistics class is enough to leave you questioning your sanity.
Of course, the first year of motherhood is filled with self-doubt and second guessing. When you have never done a thing before, it's hard to feel confident when you're trying to do that thing.
You Probably Buy A Lot Of Birth Control
In college, there were birth control pills and condoms and morning-after pills (hopefully) within easy access. People were having all the sex and (again, hopefully) being safe about it, so birth control was something that mattered a lot.
The first year of motherhood, for most people, is also all about birth control. Your body just went through a lot of changes and just did a hell of a lot of hard work, and frankly, deserves a rest. Yes, a lot of people want to get going on that next baby as soon as the first one is breathing fresh air, but for a lot of us, we just can't imagine having another baby any time soon, which again, makes birth control a highly prized thing to have.
You Figure Out Who You Really Are (Sort Of)
Freshman year of college is all about self-discovery. For so many people, the first year of college is the first year they're on their own, outside of the house their parents provided them, and capable of screwing up in their own unique way. You learn a lot about yourself your first year of your undergrad, even if it's just that life is confusing.
The same can be said for your first year of motherhood. You learn that you're stronger than you think you are and that you're vulnerable and deserve support and that you can handle a blow-out diaper, even when you haven't slept in three days. The first year of motherhood is confusing and you might not have it all figured out when it is over (or ever) but you learn something about yourself, even if it's just that life is confusing and so are babies.
Images: Helen Tseng/Romper; Giphy(11)