I feel like I came into parenthood pretty well prepared. I had so many parenting books, all of which I had read cover-to-cover and analyzed ad nauseam, that my friends teased me about it. They said it was like I was studying for a degree in motherhood. That was fine by me. It only made sense that I would study before entering the most important career in the world. But all the books in the world couldn't have prepared me for some of the things I've experienced as a mother. Here are five things that Benjamin Spock and others forgot to mention to me:
1. The mistake you just made has been made by millions of other parents.
My daughter once rolled off the couch -- the first time she had ever rolled -- when she was two months old. I was hysterical when I called her pediatrician and was worried that he would turn me over to CPS, but he told me that he thinks every kid rolls off a bed or couch at some point in infancy. When I mention all the other "unforgivable" mistakes I've made, other parents are always quick to chime in and say that they did the same thing.
2. Your kids are going to love you.
I had no doubt that I was going to love my child, but I had no idea she would love me, too. I read so many parenting books that talked about difficult kids who don't show much affection for their parents, but every child under the age of 12 who I've ever known has been sweet, happy, and affectionate toward their parents. The coolest part is that we don't even have to work hard to earn that love: it's part of the job.
3. You'll forget what life used to be like.
All the parenting books warned me that I would miss my old life. None of them told me that I'd forget what it was like. No, really. Honestly, I have no idea what I used to do with all my spare time. I don't know how it was that I felt tired after working a 40-hour week when I had no kids, or how it was that I "didn't have time" to hang out with my friends every weekend. The pre-motherhood world seems so alien to me now that I've honestly forgotten what it's like.
4. Kids masturbate all the time.
Yikes! I'm guessing that they left this out of the parenting books simply because it's something we'd rather not see or hear or think about, but kids start masturbating in early infancy. Nobody warned me that part of parenthood invariably involves awkwardly explaining to your kids that they shouldn't touch themselves in public.
5. Parenthood is gross.
No mother makes it through parenthood without being vomited on, pooped on, and peed on. We begin motherhood with puking and hemorrhoids and meet our babies after an experience fit for a horror movie. We all, at some point, have to clean some kind of disgusting bodily excretion from the couch… or the carpet… or the kid's bed. Toddlers wipe their snotty noses on our sleeves. If our kids get hurt, we end up seeing blood, sometimes lots of it. We all, at some point, have to wait half an hour or more before washing the snot or blood or vomit from our bodies, because we're too busy tending to the immediate needs of our sick or injured children. It's all worthwhile, but I wish someone had warned me just how disgusting motherhood really is.
What are some things about motherhood that you wish had been mentioned in parenting books?