While waiting (for what seemed like forever) to finally become a mom, numerous people told me things like, “Once you have kids, your life will totally change.” OK. Thanks for the tip. But what does that even mean? Does life change for the good For the bad? Somewhere in between?
As someone who always likes to be prepared, I remember Googling the mysterious topic: “How does life change when becoming a new parent?” I knew to expect the obvious things such as an indescribable love, being forced to be less selfish, and probably being more tired than normal. But what else would change, and what would I learn from being a parent? After reflecting on the past 18 months with my daughter, I can share a few things that pleasantly surprised me as a new mom.
1. Bodily fluids aren’t that bad
I had to laugh the other day when I realized that over the course of about 10 minutes, I had not only suctioned my toddler’s snotty nose and changed her dirty diaper, but had also cleaned up the vomit that inevitably occurs from her getting carsick. And I didn’t gag once!
Yes, I know. That’s what moms do. Not a big deal. And I’m not looking for a gold star or anything. But I have to admit that before having our daughter, I had barely even changed a diaper. I honestly felt nervous about it to the point where I You-tubed “how to change a diaper” before we brought her home.
And I have ALWAYS had major issues with vomit (the sight…the smell…even the thought of it!). So it was more than a little surprising when I realized that I’m OK with being puked on! In fact, one of the biggest compliments I’ve received lately came from my husband when he said, “You handled that like a champ.” He was referring to when I was holding our daughter as she was throwing up in the middle of the night. Proud mom moment for sure!
2. I am a “baby person!”
Newborns used to intimidate me. Unlike most women I know, I was never someone who would ask to hold another person’s tiny, fragile baby. I was nervous that I wouldn’t support her head correctly, or that she would start crying as soon as her mom placed her in my arms.
Aside from being intimidated, I think that subconsciously I didn’t want to be a “baby person.” For many years I knew I wouldn’t be able to have biological kids and thought that I would be adopting a toddler from an orphanage. So I kind of avoided babies (while focusing on toddlers) to protect my heart.
But all that changed (like everyone said it would) when we brought our precious daughter home from the hospital. Adopting her has taught me just how much I can love a baby. I have cherished every single day with her…including when she was a newborn! To my surprise, I’ve never been in a rush for her to crawl or take her first steps or say her first words or stop taking a bottle. Of course I celebrate her milestones, but I’m also content with her staying my “baby” for as long as possible!
3. People talk to me
I love that I can be standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in a coffee shop where, almost always, someone will strike up a conversation with me. I’ve always been a pretty social person, but I’ve noticed a huge increase in interactions with strangers since being out and about with my daughter.
For example, while at a sandwich shop recently, two elderly men from China offered me and my daughter their table. They were on vacation visiting the mountains, and we had a sweet conversation while we waited for our food to be served. That same weekend while standing in line for a food truck, we got to know a retiree who travels around the country singing karaoke.
Now, it’s not just random older men that we interact with. I’ve found that going to the local library or neighborhood park is a nice way to connect with other moms, and we always seem to have a lot to talk about. I didn’t realize that simply having a child would allow me to have so much in common with other moms, but it has been a nice surprise.
4. It’s not actually about the milestones
So far, this is my favorite thing about being a mom. I always heard about getting to be there for your child’s “firsts.” Their first smile, first steps, first words, etc. But I didn’t really understand the significance until I experienced it for myself. And this is what I’ve realized…
It’s not even about her achieving the milestone itself!
Rather, it’s being there to experience her RESPONSE when she does something for the first time! Her joyful smile. Her squeal of delight. The eye contact. The celebration. The hugs. And I have to admit, I LOVE that she immediately looks to me as she discovers something new.
This feeling of connection – this mother/daughter bond – is the surprise that Google didn’t prepare me for. It’s the surprise that I love the most, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to experience it!
What about you all? What surprised you when you became a new mom? I would love to hear about it in the comments!