My entire life I’ve been hearing “Just wait.”
“Oh, you think you have a lot of homework in third grade? Just wait until fourth.”
“Did you say that prepping for the SAT is stressful? Just wait until college.”
“You think budgeting is difficult now? Just wait until you have a family.”
In pregnancy, it’s amplified. Any joy you express at the prospect of bringing a new life into the world or any minor complaint you have about the discomfort of pregnancy is met with resistance from naysayers about just how awful your life is about to be. Just wait until morning sickness hits, they say. Just wait until the baby is born and you really find out what tired is. Just wait until he’s three and is pitching an endless tantrum in Target, they chide.
So now, as a new-ish mom standing confident in her two years of maternal experience, I’m going to pass down that same sage knowledge given to me for years. New moms and those dreaming of their future babies: just wait. Oh, believe me. You just wait.
Are You Ready for This?
Just wait until they look into your eyes for the first time. That first look, after the runner’s high of delivery reaches its peak, will sear into your memory forever. They will cry and cry after taking their first breath on this earth, but then they’ll hear your voice, faintly, behind all the other voices of doctors and nurses talking in the delivery room. In the split second your voice reaches their tiny ears, they’ll stop crying and look at you with wonder. Immediately they know, “This is my mama. This is my home.” And then you might start crying, too.
Just wait for that first real smile. The first weeks of newborn life are Hard with a capital H. You will dedicate every waking moment to this tiny human with so little positive feedback. They’ll cry for every single thing – it’s the only way they know how to communicate – but it will wear on you. One day, maybe while you’re running on two hours of sleep and after you’ve reheated your coffee for the third time that morning, they’ll look at you and flash a big, gummy smile. And your heart will melt into a puddle on the floor.
Not Spooked Yet?
Just wait until they start daycare. Yes, you’re going to miss them like crazy. It is so tough to leave a little one behind when they are still so small and so dependent on Mommy, but as they grow and get comfortable with the routine, you will be so proud of how smart that little kid is. They’ll learn numbers and letters (and they might pronounce the letter W as “bubble,” and you might never want them to say it another way). They’ll sing the Wheels on the Bus with an enthusiasm you thought was only reserved for a Saints Super Bowl win. And, best of all, when you see them for that first time at the end of a long work day, they will drop whatever it is they are doing and run to you with outstretched arms screaming, “Mommy! Mommy!” When your life flashes in front of your eyes before you take your last breath, that is certainly one of the scenes in the highlight reel.
Just wait for that first Christmas where they really understand what’s happening. It’s pure magic. Sure, they might be terrified of Santa in the flesh, but they’ll love the idea of him. They’ll squeal with glee every time they see Christmas “yights” and playfully un-decorate and re-decorate your once-perfect Christmas tree. Actually, it’s around this time your definition of “perfect” will change. You’ll start to see that perfection isn’t a measure of appearance but a metric of the heart. When you have a little kid, an impeccably decorated designer tree has nothing on salt dough hand print ornaments. Now, your Christmas tree will go from color-coordinated, perfectly spaced ornaments to handmade preschool snowflakes and angels. It’ll be the most beautiful, perfect Christmas tree you’ve ever had.
Just wait until they’re turning two, and you find yourself writing a blog post about how awesome it is to be a mom to such a cool little person. They’ll put you through the ringer some days. They will test you and make you question if you’re doing this parent thing right. But then they’ll throw their arms around your neck and say “I yove you, Mommy.” Each day has its own struggles, but the years are overflowing with joy. Don’t believe me? Just wait.