As the great Ricki Lake once said, "Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing." Amen to that. Read on for the truths about mothering that we can all relate to.
Our best moments in life involve our children. The hardest moments in life involve our children, too. We have learned more about life, love and existing in the moment from our children than we ever thought possible. The HoneyKids team have put our thinking caps on and come up with our top 10 universal truths of motherhood for your reading pleasure (if you can spare five minutes without being harangued by a child).
1. You’ll never be truly ‘alone’ again
Alone in your body: maybe. In your head: never. Quite possibly the most intense truth of motherhood is the all encompassing nature of it. It’s almost as though we’ve been changed at a molecular level. Even going on a child-free getaway is tainted now, because you’re not just acting for you anymore… you need to take care of yourself so that you’re around for your kids. No more moped rides with the wind in you hair in Bali, no more reading We Need To Talk About Kevin without being deeply disturbed.
2. Don’t even bother with silk clothing. Or expensive sunglasses.
Actually, let’s just say don’t bother with anything nice. At all. Until the kids are at least 18. Is it just us, or do the kids have an in-built radar for anything that you hold dear (your favourite earrings, your designer sunglasses, a pretty shell that is perched on your bedside table, etc. etc. etc.)? Clothes are the biggest change at first, with the introduction of sensible fabrics that don’t show dirt and stains and sensible lengths and cuts so you don’t flash cleavage or undies when picking up children. Then once the child is mobile comes the sensible home. Your beautiful low glass coffee table, decorated with a thoughtfully curated collection of objects, becomes a distant memory. Your home is now filled with more colourful plastic than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
3. Babies who have otherwise gone to sleep without crying will ALWAYS cry just when you’re walking out the door
Whyyyyyyyyyy? Honestly, children have a wicked sense of humour, even as newborns. You put them down with no issue. Slowly, you back away towards the door. Just as your foot touches the hall, BAM! Crying. How do they know how to do that? Children are particularly good at this when you’re facing a deadline. If you’ve got plans to head out for dinner, or see a movie or make an exercise class, that in-built radar kicks in and they will cry spontaneously, even if they’ve gone down without a fuss every other night.
4. Children’s noses can hold more than their body weight in snot
Gross but true. How many times can you look over at your child and see it running? It just comes out like water from a tap. And the worst part is you do the best you can, wiping it at every opportunity, but some judgey-pants old lady will still tell you your kid’s got a runny nose when you’re at the mall.
5. Your child will be possessed by a demon immediately prior to speaking to their grandparents on FaceTime
The weekly FaceTime ritual with the grandparents is special. Some of us are far away from relatives and rely on FaceTime to stay connected to family and feel less isolated. So you ask the kids to stop what they’re doing and say hi to Nanny and Pa. Well! Anybody would have thought you’d asked them to chop off a limb! It’s as though the kids turn into the quintessential brat every time they’re asked to speak to their grandparents on FaceTime. And the funny thing is, they love their grandparents in person and behave perfectly normally (most of the time). But not on FaceTime. It takes a fair bit of bribing (and off-camera, between-gritted-teeth threats) before the kids will sit down for 60 seconds to talk sensibly. So fun!
6. You’ll never think about poo, wee and vomit this much again
The colour, the texture, the volume, the smell, the frequency. So much precious brainpower dedicated to thinking about our children’s bodily functions. Before children we couldn’t even remember the last time we did a number two, but now we can keep track of all of the kids’ bowel movements for the previous seven days. No wonder our minds are racing!
7. Your body will change in ways you never expected
Ever gone through old photos and found one of you in a bikini at 25? “Wow! I look hot! I should have appreciated my awesome body and walked around half-naked most of the time.” Yep, we’ve all been there. A woman’s period of matrescence (loving this word…we’ll write a whole story on it soon) or the birth of a mother is an intensely transformative time, both mentally and physically. Some of the changes are welcome, while some can be utterly shocking and upsetting, because they’re not reflected positively in society. Who knew we could get cellulite on our knees? What are those weird brown splotches on my face? Seriously, how can nipples get this big? Nobody ever told us that feet would grow a whole size every time we have a kid. But we definitely don’t think Miranda Kerr got haemorrhoids after joyfully sneezing out her baby. Incontinence wasn’t on the Christmas list. And so the list goes on. But, as with so many changes in life, we just need to embrace our new bodies and love ourselves just the way we are (and see a doctor about those bloody haemorrhoids).
8. Nobody can ever prepare you for childbirth
Oh. My. Gosh. There is nothing that can prepare you for the sheer humanity of childbirth. The whole graphic shebang… from your waters breaking (how many times did you ask yourself if you didn’t indeed just wet your pants?), to the contractions, the transition (there is no pain that has ever come close to that feeling), the thrill of that final push, the alien-like newborn (the most beautiful alien you’ve ever seen), the afterbirth, the shock of seeing your swollen body without a baby inside it, the soreness of it all, the afterpains, getting periods back, the tenderness of nipples in those early breastfeeding days, day three emotions and so on. And don’t get us started on emergency caesarians and how much fun they are. So much pain and discomfort: yet it is overshadowed by insane, all-encompassing love. No matter how many books you read or how many stories you listen to, childbirth is something that cannot be put into words.
9. Children are living, breathing teachers of patience
It’s almost as though pregnancy and childbirth are Mother Nature’s way of preparing women in the ways of patience. The agonising wait of pregnancy, nine whole months of anticipation before a child is born. And for childbirth itself, you must submit to the pain, to whatever the gods have in store for you, whether it’s a natural birth or a caesar – it’s all beyond our control and we must relinquish our overwhelming instincts to take charge. We cannot control that pain, nor the will of our child. And so begins a mother’s lifelong journey of understanding that you cannot control others and that patience is indeed a virtue. Our children will demand infinite patience from us, so learning to be compassionate with our children as they learn and test their boundaries is a true blessing. As philosopher Lao Tzu said, “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” We like your thinking, Lao Tzu.
10. There is no love like that of a mother
Did you ever think you could love another human as much as you love your children? Nope. That lay-down-in-front-of-traffic, I-could-cry-I-love-you-so-much love feeling… From the moment you realise you’re pregnant and stop drinking alcohol, life will literally never be the same again because you no longer love yourself most (sorry, partners… this one’s hard to explain). A mother instinctively puts her children’s needs above her own and that feeling of love, the ‘lioness’ instinct, is just so strong. We’re wondering if the intensity of love ever dims – sniffing the hair of sleeping children, locking eyes and feeling intensely connected, wanting to smoosh their little faces when they say something cute, the heartbreak when they say they choose Daddy over you for the first time. The thing about motherhood is that it’s generally a thankless task – there are no prizes, no awards. Just the knowledge that you have known the most powerful force of all and held it in your heart – the love of a mother.
Top image: Julie Johnson via Unsplash
Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy:
Sweat, wet patches and heat rash, oh my! How to handle the heat in Singapore
A love letter to my boobs after breastfeeding
What happens to your body after giving birth? Plenty!
The power of joy, love and kindness: finding hope through grief
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