Parenting

An Open Letter to Every Woman Who Is About to Become a Mom

Dear About-to-Be-a-Mom,

There are tons of writers out there with everything from practical advice to humorous outtakes on new motherhood. Some of it is valid. Most of it isn’t. It really all depends on your own experience. The fact that your experience will, in many ways, be completely unlike anyone else’s is why most experienced mothers simply back off and let you fend for yourself. You know, like pushing you off on your bike for that first pedal into freedom. Go, new mom, go boldly where you haven’t gone before! And enjoy that skinned knee!

There will be plenty of those, of course. I skinned my knees quite a bit as a kid for some reason that boils down to the obvious fact that my mother didn’t helicopter enough. One time as a child I remember watching as a scratch on my hand became a small scar. I’ll never be the same again, I thought anxiously. That’s motherhood in a nutshell, though, isn’t it? You’ll never be the same again.

You might sleep, you might not. If you don’t sleep you might handle the sleeplessness just fine, or you might not. In any case, it will pass. You might be dressed in yoga pants covered in spit-up for the first year of your child’s life. Or, you might pop back into your pre-maternity clothes the minute you walk out of the hospital and be getting your nails done the next week. Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, your child will eat, eat, eat one way or another, and poop too. A lot. You’ll be too enamored with your new little one, and too crazed at the idea of screwing something up to even notice the mess or care about the smell, unless there’s no poop at all. (Helpful tip: That’s what prunes are for.)

All of these possibilities will swirl around one single truth buried deep inside that will surface as you grow into your new role as a mom: You will not be the woman you were before this child arrived. Your priorities will change. They will have to because you simply won’t have the energy to care about things the way you did before baby. Your energy level will change and, along with it, your willingness to do pretty much anything. Your circle of friends will change. You’ll suddenly see some people more, many people less, and meet folks you never would have otherwise encountered.

Just when you think you’re in a bizarre world of your own you’ll realize that your spouse has changed, too. The truth is that both of you will lose yourselves when this new life comes along. The good thing is that you will also find yourselves again. You’ll still be in love and you’ll still be happy, albeit in a different way. You’ll now know what the end-of-the-movie love feels like after you’ve survived all the drama together. And it’s good. (That’s the real reason why Hollywood makes so many sequels.)

The best advice anyone can ever give you is this: Welcome the change. The folks surveyed for the statistics showing that married couples are less happy after kids are the folks who didn’t welcome the change. They fought and are probably still fighting that pointless uphill battle. Surrender to your new self the way you’re surrendering a little more each day to your new little love. Trust me, you’ll love the person you’ve become almost as much as you love the person you created.