Becoming a parent is one of the most pivotal moments in your life that will change your life so substantially, forever. You have never known a love quite like the love you will have for your child. You have never known the heartache you will feel when that child feels an ounce of pain or the level of stress you will feel when you are worried about your child. After becoming a parent, every emotion you may have known becomes that much more amplified.
These are Momtourage Media’s top five things we wish we knew before becoming a parent.
It will not matter how old you are or how old your children are; you will always be their parents. You will always love them deeply and always feel compelled to help them in any way you can, even when they are middle-aged adults.
Children are unpredictable initially – sleep patterns change, teething can be stressful, going through growth spurts (in all stages!) can throw things off. Sometimes your child won’t fall asleep at bedtime, won’t eat certain foods, or behave as you wish they would. As they get older, their changing hormones make them less emotionally stable, creating consistent behavior and attitude modification. You have to roll with it, baby, and trust your instincts! At every step of Parenting, there is a certain level of unpredictability.
Upon becoming a parent, you may not have the time to be organized; your first order of business will always be to meet your child’s needs; this is when, if you have not already, the quality of selflessness will develop. Organization and other things you may have once viewed as a priority will suddenly become less important. Certain situations will sometimes be beyond your control, and your house and your life will unequivocally get messy. You have to embrace it, which can be difficult for a lot of Type A personalities.
The truth is that if you are not a parent yet, you have no idea what it feels like to go through labor. You will think you have an idea about it in your head, based on what others have shared with you. In actuality, the circumstances surrounding your delivery will dictate how you will deliver; it will not be what you want; it will be what must take place to keep you and your baby safe.
There is nothing any of my ten female cousins (or my mother) who went through labor and delivery several times each could tell me that would even remotely get me to understand what would happen. I could say nothing right now to help any mom who is about to have a baby realize what it will feel like or how it will progress because everyone’s experience is unique.
Sometimes your journey into parenthood can be without going through labor; you may go through the process of adoption or surrogacy, which is an unknown and unique journey in itself.
You cannot predict how you will feel after having a child. I insisted I would go back to work, but I felt completely different after having my first child. I felt such a connection that I did not want to be away from my baby for five minutes, let alone eight hours a day. I had to change the plan, and thankfully, with some sacrifices, and although it was difficult, we found ways to make it work financially.
As moms, we constantly reinvent ourselves; when I decided I would be a stay-at-home-mom, many things changed for me. I didn’t have the mental stimulation of work that I craved, and I no longer earned my own money (that was difficult for someone who worked and earned money since they were 14 years old). I also had to be brave and put myself out there into new groups, which I did, despite my initial apprehension to meeting new people. I thankfully made many new friends on my journey, known as my #momtourage; some of them are my best friends to this day. I remember saying to a friend who was going back to work and was uneasy about it; “you are going back to everything you know. I am going into the unknown.” Thankfully, that shift in perspective made her feel much better.
Raising a responsible, kind, intelligent human being is not a job for the faint of heart. It takes courage, dedication, love, patience, persistence, understanding, empathy, caring, and so much more! There is no guidebook to help you with every decision you make, no immediate gratification for the work you’ve done; you have to parent the best way you know-how and hope you are doing a good job.
Every smile, every hug, every giggle, every accomplishment will bring you such immense joy- a joy you have not felt before. Every day, watching your child learn and grow; it’s like opening a beautiful gift. Being a parent is truly one of the most incredible experiences that life has to offer, and although nothing can prepare you for it, it will force you to grow, as a person, in ways you never imagined.
Lauren Hagerty is the Co-Founder and Content Creator for Momtourage Media a media-based company that focuses on creating crowd-sourced and researched parenting advice for modern-day moms. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut with her husband Keith, daughter Ava, age 12, son Max, age 10, and her two Goldendoodles, Parker and Harley.
Join our newsletter and you’ll receive this free guide, along with continued support and resources from The Colette Louise Tisdahl Foundation.