Things I wish I was told about motherhood
10 THINGS - Bianca Gonzalez (The Philippine Star) - May 5, 2016 - 10:00am

Paraphrasing Lysa Terkeust, ‘Whatever you do, whatever you decide to do, it will always be good enough. Because you are her mother. God knew exactly what kind of mother your child needs long before she was born.’

Dear nine-month-old pregnant self,

You’re about to meet our daughter Lucia! I know you have mixed feelings right now. Excitement that you’re finally meeting the little human being you carried for many months, but nervous because you have no idea how exactly a mother should take care of her newborn. So here’s a little letter I wish I could have given you in some way, shape, or form before you give birth.

These are the things I wish I was told about motherhood.

I know you’ve been trying to read up and ask fellow mommy friends’ advice, and these could be things we were told, and it’s either I just didn’t remember, it didn’t stick, or I didn’t think much of it. But after six months of being a first-time mom, here are a few important things I want to share with you.

1. Motherhood isn’t like what you see on your Instagram feed. You scroll your feed and see posts of your gorgeous mom friends and their babies, happy and glowing and seemingly without a worry in the world. Motherhood isn’t exactly that. Motherhood is a whole lot of sweat and tears. There will be days that even when you’ve done everything to try to make your baby stop crying, she just won’t stop, and you’ll end up crying, too. There will be days that you won’t get to take a bath even if you can already smell yourself sweaty because by the time you finally put your baby down to sleep, all you’ll want to do is rest yourself.

There will be days that you will get to eat lunch at 5 p.m., because you adjust to the baby’s schedule which is a seemingly a never-ending cycle of feed, burp, play, poop, change nappy, put to sleep, feed, and then it begins all over again. There will be days that your baby will not want to be put down in her crib and she’d rather rest on you, so you’ll have to carry her just so she can sleep even if your back and arms are already hurting like a b*tch, and to top it all off, you are dying to pee, so you pee while carrying her. (Yes, true story.)

After a whole day of crying and feeding and crying and feeding, suddenly, that evening, your baby will stop, stare at you straight in the eyes, smile, and coo. And your eyes will well up with tears, and your heart will overflow with joy. Because at that exact moment when you’re at the peak of exhaustion and smelliness and helplessness, you’ll feel love and joy like you’ve never felt before.

And then, tomorrow is a whole new day and a whole new challenge.

 

 

 

 

Yes, motherhood will give you moments when you’ll feel like you’re going crazy.

2. You will question yourself many, many, many times. As you watch your baby sleep after a long struggle of getting her to nap, you will ask yourself, “Am I doing good enough?” On days that she just cries and cries and cries, you’ll question yourself, “Am I failing at my job to be her mother?” The constant judging and unsolicited advice given by those around you doesn’t make you feel any better either.

I try to be as realistic as possible with my posts on social media about motherhood. I share about both the good times and the tough times — because being a mom is not always sunshine and smiles. One particularly rough day, I posted something sentimental, and the comment of our Instagram follower Kristine Kaspy brought me to tears. She wrote, paraphrasing Lysa Terkeust, “Whatever you do, whatever you decide to do, it will always be good enough. Because you are her mother. You were created exactly for her, just as she was created exactly for you. God knew exactly what kind of mother your child needs long before she was born.”

3. Keeping your husband your top priority even when you have a baby is much easier said than done. In our pre-wedding church seminar, one of the most important advice given to us was to prioritize each other. Your spouse comes first, the children come second. At the time we were told, we were like, “Of course!” Apparently not. 

When your baby needs your full attention almost 24/7, it’s tough to squeeze in quality time with your partner, and even tougher to find time for yourself. In the middle of feedings and washing bottles, taking three-minute baths and wondering when you’ll have time to cut your nails, it’s extremely difficult to prioritize your husband over the baby. So, I try to sneak in little ways to be a sweet wife by wearing short shorts around the house (which the husband likes) or getting takeout of his favorite food (since I’m not a good cook.)

As the baby grows older and develops a schedule of sorts, remind yourself to start exerting more effort to being more of a wife again. We have the most understanding husband, and we’re very lucky.

4. It’s easy to lose your sense of self when you’re a new mom. As far back as I can remember, we’ve always been on-the-go. Busy, career-oriented, never not doing anything. Even now as you’re pregnant, you’re working and working out. Start to psych yourself that all this will change. When you give birth, boom. Suddenly, the girl who was out of the house all day is home all day, every day.

As a career woman, you know what you are good at. You know your strengths and you know how to get what you want. As a new mom, suddenly, you’re clueless. It’s easy to lose sight of yourself because you’re suddenly thrust into a whole new role you’re not sure you’re prepared for.

When you can, try to do things you used to do. Your supportive husband will encourage you to work once in a while, so you can be in the environment that you’re used to and boost your self-confidence. Try to make time to see or even talk to your friends, so you can take your mind off the pressure of being a new parent. Just keep in mind my mantra nowadays: Every other mom in the world did it, so I can, too.

5. Everything changes when you have a baby. Really. Even now that our daughter is six months old already, whenever I have to leave her at home to work, I’m constantly on edge, checking my phone for baby updates. Sometimes my mind is not 100 percent where I am because part of me is wondering if the baby already slept or if she already fed, if she’s crying, or if she’s in a good mood. The Pinay Doulas Collective put it simplest. When asked by a client mom, “So when will I go back to normal?” They answered, “You don’t. This is your new normal.”

Before, when we’d have a few days off, my husband and I would just randomly book a trip and go off with our backpacks. Now, while arranging travel plans, so many options for what we can do or where we can go are crossed off the list. Every little detail about the trip has to take the baby into consideration. I told my older brother, an amazing father and our true #parentgoals, “Everything changes with a baby pala talaga, no?” He casually replies, “The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you can move on in life.”

So brace yourself, soon-to-be momma. Life is about to turn 180 degrees. Sleep as much as you can now because you won’t be sleeping more than three hours straight very soon. And get ready for your heart to grow in ways you never thought possible.

Cheering you on,

Bianca the new mom

PS: Happy Mother’s Day to our mom, Ofel, the reason we’re where we are now.

 

 

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