Truth be told: Motherhood changes everything
Before I had children, I was full of parenting advice and know-how. I'd see parents floundering and think to myself, "Jeez, maybe those parents shouldn't have had children." "Maybe those parents just aren't cut out for parenting." " I would never let my child do that." Yes, I was completely full of shit.
It's so much easier to be a Monday morning quarterback than it is to be the one running the plays in the middle of the game. Motherhood is a game of survival, not a game of chess. We've all heard that having a baby changes things, but the truth is that you just don't realize how much having a baby changes you. Having a baby and giving birth are seriously indescribable experiences that you cannot justly explain from one person to another.
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Before giving birth, no matter to what extent someone describes to you how it feels (the physical, psychological, and mental aspects), you cannot really fully grasp the depth of it because there is nothing close to compare it to. It is the most profound moment of your life when you are at your utmost pain threshold and you experience a miracle. It is truly an out of body experience.
Just like you can think and believe that you are going to parent in a certain way and a make a laundry list of what you will and won't do as a parent, you never know what kind of parent you will be or what lengths you will go to until you hold that child in your arms and are in the thick of parenting. You don't know what you will do until you are confronted with the question and you may even surprise yourself with your answer.
I've known many parents-to-be, myself included, say they would never do this or that and have a solid plan in place ... but once that child is in your arms and out in the world, you can't imagine that degree of love until you have a child of your own and it completely changes you. Your priority becomes the child, everything else is secondary. You know the saying: "People make plans and God laughs"? Well, that is never truer than when you are planning on parenting.
Before I had children, I was sure that I would go right back to grad school. Why not? I was getting a masters in elementary education, I was a graduate assistant for a professor, and my office was next door to the daycare ran by other grad students. It was perfect. I had my plan in place. I'd have the baby and we'd carry on. Only when I held the baby, I realized I didn't trust anyone else to take care of her the way I would. No one else would love her and risk their life to keep her safe. She was perfect and I wanted her to stay that way. It was a no brainer. I was going to stay home. Believe me, I surprised even myself with that decision.
Before her birth, I was very independent. I was almost condescending towards stay-at-home moms because I couldn't understand how a woman would sacrifice all of her hard work to stay home with a baby. I thought we should be able to have it all. But when I held my daughter in my arms and she looked up at me, depending on me to take care of her and love her, I found myself wondering the opposite. How could I ever leave?
From that moment forward, there has been no greater priority or more fulfilling job, for me, than raising my daughters. Motherhood is never what you expect and so much more than you ever could have imagined. The problem is that you just never know how it's going to be until it's already happening.
Image via The TRUTH about Motherhood