For me, the surprises didn’t end after my baby was born. Almost everyday feels like a surprise. Picking him up from bed first thing in the morning feels like a surprise! It’s pretty amazing. Here are some things, good and bad, that have surprised me in the last 14 months:
That world news would hit me even harder. I feel so much more connected with others pain now and I think of both victims and perpetrators as…someone’s child.
That the stigma of single motherhood would run so deep. I live in a very progressive area and it is a huge stigma. I had a different take on things when I visited Canada but here and now in the U.S. it seems like a lot people think single moms are not much more than makers of bad choices. And it seeps out at the most interesting times…
That watching my child is like a deep meditation practice. Both the peace of it and the struggle of it when it’s hard to stop myself from leaping up and helping him with something he’s figuring out.
That non-judgementalness would be so affirmed. I really do not care how other parents choose to care for their babies. Co-sleeping, cry-it-out, plastic toys, wooden toys, homemade baby food or not – it’s all good. It’s a really hard job and we are all doing a great job.
That when I was pregnant my belly would be lopsided from the baby hanging out on one side. I really thought pregnant bellies were very round and symmetrical places. It was like there was a colt in there!
That I would understand why moms wear stretch pants so much. You are crouching and crawling around, getting baby food smeared on you and taking a nap at a moments notice (if you are lucky). Stretch pants it is for me!
That I would gain clarity on right and wrong and relationships. Babies just seem to bring clarity along with them. Partly because you have no time for anything less and partly because they can really change your view of your self worth.
That I would become much more decisive. I think this is a part of the no-time-for-dawdling.
That friends would so absolutely disappear. I think people without children might sometimes see people with new children as hibernating their true selves. Like we go in a deep freeze for ten years or something. Not so, I miss my friends. It will be interesting to see what happens if and when they have children.
That it would be a spiritual journey. As a scientist and as close to a non-believer as I have always been – there have been moments that made me sure of the existence of god.
That it would be as hard as it is. It’s hard to be a baby and it’s hard to be a new mom. People try to tell you when you are pregnant but you do not understand. There is only one way to understand this. And this is coming from someone who spent many years as a nanny. There is no preparing.
That soon after my child was born I would develop a feeling like I would just simply drop dead if my child died. And then again that this feeling fades. A bit. Your well-being is so tied up in the well-being of this other little person. It’s incredible and intense.
That child development is on a day by day basis – and so is mom development. And you have to keep letting go of what you are so sure of. When he was small I was so sure my child was not going to ever have a crusty nose / eat anything sweet / smack babies on the head. But they all pass through these stages whether you like it or not.
That sometimes I would look at him and feel like a bank robber – like I got away with millions!
That formula feeding is as great a way to go as breastfeeding. There is so much pressure to breast feed these days – and breast feeding is great. But so is formula feeding. If I had to do it over again I would plan to do a mix of both.
That I would be turned down for apartment after apartment after apartment when I put the baby down on the application. And that I would get the FIRST apartment I applied for when I stopped doing that. Wow, the pissed off look on my new landlords face when I showed up with the baby to sign the lease. An incredibly sad snapshot of humanity.
There’s more, there’s lots lots more. I’ll keep you posted 😉