Listen up, first-time mommies-to-be: you’re gonna read a lot of articles written by a lot of people who have no more parenting experience than you’ll have in less than a year. It’s kind of adorable but mostly annoying to someone like me who’s been around the block 50 times but still scours the internet for advice on breast-feeding and sleep-training, only to find that the authors of half the articles on the line are writing off of 3 months’ worth of mothering.
Bless dem mommy bloggers’ precocious lil’ hearts.
They think they know.
Let me assure you, newbies: they do not know. And neither do you. And neither do I.
Accept this fact now. You will be unprepared for birth, for delivery, for motherhood. Just when you think you’ve got a plan, you don’t. (Read: Woman has 5 singletons and then BAM–twins.) I’ve been doing this for 22 years and i haven’t even scratched the surface of parenting knowledge yet. I don’t even know what I don’t know.
Cluelessness: love it, fear it, embrace it.
That’s lesson numero uno for you, free of charge. I’ll give you a few more tips that I’ve picked up, some from my own experiences but mostly from the ancient wisdom passed down from strong women who mommed-so-hard decades before I entered the game. We’ll just touch on some light and airy pregnancy “to-do’s” for now and I’ll follow up with information I gather on other stages as I figure it via school of hard knocks.
- Do yourself a favor: while you are pregnant with your first child, even though you think you are *so busy* (you’re not) (at all), take some time and and savor this one thing: NAPS. Doze off as often as you can. Don’t even feel guilty about it. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep. For the love of God, lay down. Put your feet up. Screw your husband and his incessant whining for things like dinner. Know what’s awesome about not having kids? You can eat dinner whenever and wherever you want, specifically after a nice long afternoon nap and before bedtime. YOU HAVE ZERO CHILDREN SCREAMING FOR CHICKEN NUGGETS. There is no one to get to softball practice or gymnastics or basketball or band concerts. You don’t have to spend 3 hours listening to a first-grader read through “Happy Effing Birthday Moon” for the 9,000th time. This is your moment! Seize it and get your snooze on.
- Take a shower, shave the legs, do your makeup and all the fun girly pampering things you probably don’t even realize you take for granted; do them regularly right up until you can’t reach past your knees. I remember once, before I had kids, I took a bath and shaved my legs and applied lotion all in one afternoon like I was Kevin McAlister. It was insane. I don’t even know what I’d do with that kind of free time anymore…probably get pregnant again.
- Get sick now: enjoy puking with no one climbing on your back. These days are numbered. Head cold? Cook some old-fashioned homemade chicken soup while nobody hangs on your leg, and then eat it without sharing. (Read also: take a nap.) Moan, sniffle, take enough pregnancy-safe meds to knock out a horse. Guess who doesn’t have to make sure the baby’s not gobbling used tissues? That’s you sister–you’re sick as hell but you’re free as a bird, and there’s a genuine beauty in not having to clean up someone else’s barf while you yourself are running a fever of 102.
- Go on all the dates: Dinner-and-movie your husband to death. Go eat fancy cheese in fancy clothes at fancy places. (That’s what people do, right?) Y’all, not everyone has the blessing of local and willing Meemaws and Pawpaws who beg to babysit little ones every other weekend so that you and the hubster can have some alone time. If you are one of those lucky people, then skip this paragraph–you might as well be in your diamond-encrusted 12-ft round bathtub aboard your private yacht in the Mediterranean Sea in my opinion, because that’s how luxurious I imagine free, trustworthy childcare for regular date nights must be. Half of my friends sent their kids to Grandma’s this past week for “grandparent time” before school starts. This is a concept beyond my comprehension, and I don’t even know what I’d do with that kind of free time…probably get pregnant again.
- Sit on your clean couch in your clean living room in your clean house, and just breathe deeply. Rest in knowing that you are capable of dusting once a week, even if it’ll be another 24 years before you experience that level of cleanliness again (or in my case, 40 years). If you want to clean the grout in your shower tiles with a toothbrush, now is the time. Same goes for big projects like, idk, putting in a stair rail or closing off gaping holes in walls leading to the attic (and certain death.)
- Murder your ear drums. Crank that Bone Thugs. Once baby gets here, anything above .01 decibels goes away. Plus you can’t risk your preschooler singing “Country Grammy” verbatim in public. Let the world know what awesome speakers you have before you’re blasting Kids’ Bop on the daily. You will never be this cool again. Never.
- Ditto for the adult programming: if you’re a tv watcher at all then I suggest getting your Office binge on yesterday, because Disney will straight up own your rear end once the kids come along. Curious about that new Netflix series? Check it out immediately, because the next episode of anything you watch is 95% guaranteed to make you feel like you’re having a bad acid trip at a mushroom festival (I’m looking at you, Sarah and Duck.) Anyone ever watch Rasta Mouse sober? It’s a thing that’ll happen to you, and you’ll just have to sit there and take it cause your kid loves it and you love your kid. Plus puppet mice with Jamaican accents are still a way better form of entertainment than blood curdling screams from a three-year-old.
- Go along with your bad touristy self: have you been meaning to go visit The Pioneer Woman’s shop in Pawhuska? Me neither–but I promise you, that will be one of the very last places I take kids under the age of 18. There are few things I hate more than dragging temperamental toddlers through aisles of breakables: A) diaper blowouts in public places, B) Newly-walking babies in ballpark stadiums, and C) Roadtrips lasting more than half an hour with infants who hate car seats. You wanna go somewhere? Get out now while you still can.
- A sugary word to the wise: eat a little junk food, but don’t go crazy ape. You hear the jokes about eating for two. You know ice cream and cheeseburger cravings are normal. It seems culturally acceptable and funny to be that pregnant woman plowing through a jar of Nutella (on her clean couch) but I assure you, it’s not a good idea. It’s fine to indulge…but from one gestational diabetic to another, it’s not ok to snarf pop tarts with a side of cherry coke for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve had easy pregnancies and I’ve had rough pregnancies; by far my most enjoyable gestating months were the ones spent eating on the healthier side and remaining active. Beyond those testy first-trimester weeks of incessant queasiness, be un-ridiculous and drink water instead of soda, go easy on the coffee, and keep the sugary snacks to a minimum. This is not the time to declare “I can eat whatever I want” and then proceed to do so–your baby won’t get all the nutrients she needs, you’ll feel like crap, and it’ll take you forever to lose the baby weight (because it won’t be from the baby).
- That said, chillax about your weight. If you are making healthy choices and following your doctor’s advice, your body will do what it’s going to do, numbers on a scale be damned. My weight gains have been 35, 60, 20, 35, and 30 (and 20 so far in this twin pregnancy). I can’t tell you I’ve done a whole lot differently in each pregnancy (in that 60-pounder I ate well and exercised while working and going to school full time). Some postpartum periods sucked more than others, but be kind to yourself. Your body is doing some cool stuff–celebrate it! There are women who’d sacrifice anything to be your shoes, even if your shoes are flip flops cutting off circulation to your swelling pregnant cankles. Weight gain: a manageable and temporary side effect. Don’t freak out.
(Hey if your feet are swelling that bad tho, for real, call your doctor, drink some water without sharing, and take a nap on your clean couch.)