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What no one ever tells you about motherhood

Deborah Cruz is a SheKnows parenting expert and blogger at The TRUTH About Motherhood, which she calls a place of "humor, support, honesty and integrity." Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Our expectations of motherhood and the reality of motherhood are never the same. Sometimes it's better and sometimes it's worse (though no one would ever admit it). But no matter what it is, there is no wrong way to love your children, and no one can dictate what you are supposed to feel or how you are supposed to love your children. Of course, no one tells you that, and that is by far the hardest part of all.

happy mother with son and daughter

As women, from the moment we find ourselves pregnant with our first child, we know our lives are going to change. We just have absolutely no idea how much and in what ways. The changes begin almost the minute we pee on that pregnancy-test strip. Within the first few weeks, we find ourselves urinating more often, we're more tired than usual and our mind is thinking about things that we'd never thought of before. Suddenly, things that didn't matter to us at all now concern us more than we could have imagined. Mother Nature is good about letting us know immediately that changes are imminent.

Becoming a mother is more than just the physical acts of becoming pregnant and giving birth. Gaining weight and agreeing to dedicate your life to taking care of your little person is just a very small part of what motherhood means. It is so, so much more than that. Trying to have reasonable expectations of motherhood is futile because you can't put expectations on the unknown. It is imagining the unimaginable. Becoming a mother is unlike anything else you have ever experienced up until the point in your life when you become one. It is the adjustment period between who you were and who you are meant to be.

Motherhood is day in and day out, all day, every day. The physical adjustment of pregnancy at times feels insurmountable. You feel like a foreigner in your own body — a guest who has overstayed her welcome. But you read all the books and watch all the shows, and you think you can handle it. You think you are prepared, but how can you really be prepared to have your entire life change so profoundly in one moment?

At the moment of my daughter's birth, everything from my life before that had ever been of any importance somehow seemed small and unimportant. My life's priorities fell to the wayside. I understand that may sound antiquated, and if you meet a woman in the thick of motherhood, you may at first glance feel sorry for her because she looks so exhausted, unfashionable and unable to have a life. But if you look closer, you will recognize that she's experiencing the profound bliss of loving her own child. There is nothing like it.

Suddenly having someone who's dependent on you for survival and realizing that you can love someone so much that it physically hurts can be a bit overwhelming. We all go into motherhood expecting to do things a certain way. It usually falls somewhere between the way our mother did it and how we envision the perfect parent doing it. Then a baby is born, and we are shocked to find out that babies are unpredictable creatures who don't live by our plan. It hits us that we are not in control. We are at the mercy of this tiny baby whom we love so much that it takes our breath away to think of anything bad ever happening to him or her, because we know that would seal our own fate. It's terrifying — the power that the love of our child wields over us.

Our expectations of motherhood and the reality of motherhood are never the same, and sometimes it's better and sometimes it's worse (though no one would ever admit it). But no matter what it is, there is no wrong way to love your children, and no one can dictate what you are supposed to feel or how you are supposed to love your children. Of course, no one tells you that, and that is by far the hardest part of all.

So throw away your birth plans and your five-year plans and your expectations of what the perfect child/parent dynamic looks like — because none of that is what matters. The greatest adjustment of motherhood is that hard part when you are letting go of who you used to be, relinquishing the idea of who you thought you'd be and becoming who you were meant to be all along.

What was the hardest thing for you to adjust to when you become a new mother?

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