I waited until I was 30 to have kids, mostly because I wanted to have my sh*t together before I became a mom. And I did, at least by "child-free me" standards. I thought I knew how to be an adult and do adult things competently. Then I had kids and realized that being a competent adult and being a competent adult with kids are two entirely different things. There are so many things I thought I knew how to do, and then I became a parent.
You see, when people say that everything changes when you become a parent they aren’t lying. Turns out, one tiny human makes a huge difference when it comes to major things like your career, and also seemingly simple tasks like doing the laundry or keeping your house clean or, you know, sleeping. I used to be so good at sleeping. Now I can't fall asleep at night, wake at every sound, lie awake replaying every hot mess moment from my day, and can't nap even when I have the opportunity.
To make matters worse, I was one of those annoying child-free people who thought I knew everything there was to know about being being a mom. When I was pregnant I read books, took classes, joined internet mom groups, and was annoyingly confident about my choices. Until, that is, I brought a baby home from the hospital. Everything from breastfeeding to baby getting some damn sleep is so much harder and different than I thought it would be. I had no idea.
So, yeah, I should be way better at this than I am, and I totally have no idea how I got here. Help.
How To Change Diapers
I’ve literally been babysitting children and changing their diapers since I was 10. So I thought that I would be a relative expert in diaper-changing once my baby was born. I can't figure out how my kid managed to poop and pee all over me, and as often as they did. Maybe it’s a matter of volume?
And once my kids were toddlers, they wiggled their way out of my clasp and got poop all over their legs, feet, back, and hands on a daily basis. Don't even ask me about changing tables. Apparently, I suck at changing diapers.
How To Keep My Damn House Clean
Before I had kids, I was one of those ridiculously neat people who actually enjoyed cleaning. When I brought my baby home from the hospital, I thought it would be relatively easy to clean up after such a tiny human, but no. I had no idea. And it get's worse. My house hasn't been entirely clean in almost a decade. Fortunately, I've stopped caring.
How To Be On Time
I used to be on time for everything. It actually annoyed the hell out of me when other people were late. I have no idea how to be on time for things now, though. Either I get ready too early, and then something happens like a potty accident or someone touching someone else, or we aren't even close to leaving on time and I might as well give up before I even make my way towards my front door. It's so embarrassing, but there's nothing I can do. It's a good thing my kids take the bus to school.
How To Do Self-Care
I have always understood how important it is to engage in regular self-care. Before kids, I would take time to hang out with friends, read for fun, go shopping at Ulta, get facials, and actually drink coffee when it was still hot. Now that I’m a mom, though, it’s so hard to carve out some time in my schedule for myself. I almost can never find the time, and when something's gotta give, I place myself on the back burner. It sucks.
How To Do Laundry
I started doing my own laundry in elementary school. About once a week, I managed to gather, sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away my clothes. It’s easy. Right? Wrong. Laundry is impossible when you have kids. If I do manage to wash some clothes, half the time I forget that it’s in the washer and, as a result, I have to re-wash the entire load. Once a load is dry, it sits unfolded in a basket until someone wears an article of wrinkled clothing. Don't even ask about how often I iron. I'm pretty sure I have no idea where my iron is. It never ends.
How To Have A Career
Before I became a mom, I was super focused on climbing the corporate ladder. I thought it would be easy to maintain that momentum after my baby was born, but no. It's been a constant see-saw of trying to find balance between my career and my kids, and always managing to miss out on something, no matter how hard I try.
How To Nap
I remember staying up all night drinking tequila, then simply catching a nap the next day to make up for lost sleep. Then I became a mom and seem to have completely lost my ability to sleep. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is a damn lie, falling asleep is hard, and if I manage to get some shut eye my kids wake me up at night. I wish I were a cat.
How To Breastfeed
If you ask me which part of motherhood is the most different than I expected, the answer is breastfeeding all day long. Breastfeeding is hard. In fact, it's much harder than I thought it would be. I took classes, read books, and thought it would be effortless, because everyone said how “natural“ it was. I soon realized that I had no idea what I was doing, breastfeeding was anything but natural for me, and was an uphill battle.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.