8 Things No One Tells You About Being a Mom
Plus, how to deal with the ups and downs!
Your baby will eventually insult you
Indulge in a nice-mommy whim and make a special chocolate-chip face on a toddler's pancake, and you're liable to be met with indignant howls. ("That's not how a pancake looks!") One minute you're the best thing since ice pops and the next, mud. And the mercurial moods of a growing child mean you never know which will happen when.
Silver lining: Repeated verbal stabs make you more immune to them. Unless it's clearly intentional antisocial rudeness (rare before the school years), blame child development and don't take anything personally. Two-year-olds, for instance, are notoriously resistant to change because they're trying hard to figure out the world and once they've "got" a concept down (pancakes don't have faces), it's disorienting to have their expectations foiled.
You have to force yourself to back off
If, like me, you're a Type A control freak (or were in your pre-kids life, until they leeched it out of you), it's a constant internal struggle not to step in and finish the puzzle, Velcro-shut the sneaker yourself, or issue reminders every ten seconds about what your child should do, say, or remember.
Silver lining: The more you incrementally step back, the more self-sufficient they become, which is how it's supposed to be. Kids need to do many things on their own -- and feelings of accomplishment are as mentally healthy for them as they are practical. One morning I watched my 5-year-old laboriously try and try again as my hurry-meter clanged inside me. But you know what? I refrained from butting in as long as she was calm and focused -- and she did it! Her pride was far more valuable than my hectoring would have been.
You won't know if you've done a good job for, oh, 20 or 30 years
Every decision you make -- from discipline to extracurricular activities -- has repercussions, though usually not as momentous as you may think. You can have a pretty good inkling of how things are going, but you won't really know what sort of person you've helped to create until your child is fully grown.
Silver lining: That's the marvelous mystery of parenting. So much time, money, hope, and love poured into one tiny creature -- but I can't think of a better use for those resources.
Paula Spencer is the coauthor of Bright From the Start (Gotham), out this month.