When you become a parent, some things can still come as a shock, even if you consulted parenting websites, experts, books and your friends and family in the months leading up to the big day. You know you’re likely going to be tired during those first few months. You’re going to have to change diapers, and baby spit-up can and will happen. However, there are other events, some intangible, that are completely unexpected for the new parent.
Since everyone has a different experience, we asked several moms, both new and seasoned, to answer the question, “What surprised you the most about becoming a parent?” The answers are varied and eye-opening.
That my marriage would need to be recalibrated
“We all know a newborn really shakes up life in a good way. What I didn’t realize was just how much it’d shake up my relationship with my husband. We had a lot of bumps in the road after my son was born, and things got under our skin a bit more between each other. We had to find our new normal, how to relate to one another, help each other grow as parents and people — all the while maintaining our marriage and raising our son. We were together over 10 years before he was born, so I thought it’d be easy, but I was wrong. Thankfully, we learned our new roles and have grown closer over the last nine months.” —Caitlin, 28
How quickly a child’s personality emerges
“That my son’s personality would be so immediately apparent. I had no idea what a unique and specific individual he would be, from day one.” —Jillian, 34
And new parts of my personality would emerge
“Anger. Before I had kids, I never got angry! Now I’m learning to get to know (and manage) this new part of myself.” —Emily, 39
That I would cry over every little thing
“How much more emotional I would get about everything. It turns out that having a little person breaks your heart and makes you vulnerable in all of the right ways. But it does result in a lot more crying. We were at Disney World last week and while watching Finding Nemo: The Musical, I started sobbing!” —Shannon, 35
How quickly kids change
“That just when I have thoroughly fallen in love with (and been completely challenged by) this little human, this little human would disappear and change into an entirely new little human… and I’d never see that former little human again. Rinse and repeat this ad infinitum. It sounds like something so elemental, like a huge ‘Duh!,’ but somehow it always seemed so odd and slightly cruel to me. I would mourn the loss of my daughter’s 3-year-old self while falling in love with (and dealing with) her 4-year-old self. It still seems so baffling and odd to me that I will never be sitting on the couch again with my son or daughter as their 3-year-old, 5-year-old, 6-year-old selves. Those lovely little people are now gone. But they are replaced with equally lovely, yet older, people.” —Amy, 44
That it’s so much fun
“How fun kids are. People talk about being tired or diapers being gross or how your life changes, but few people focused on just how much fun being a parent is.” —Nikki, 40
How all-consuming the love would be
“I was not overly enthusiastic about having kids, and I was completely blindsided by the overwhelming, all-consuming love that hit me the instant he was born.” —Ramsey, 36
That I would always be “on”
“The absolute totality of it — it sounds silly, but I couldn’t comprehend beforehand how I would never not be ‘on,’ whether the baby/kid was with me or not — while I was asleep, while brushing my teeth, at work, eating dinner, reading: however many mental tracks I had running at any given time, there was never not one that was entirely mom. Not negative or positive, mind you — just incessant, omnipresent.” —Lydia, 44
How one baby would be enough
“How my pre-motherhood maternal nature didn’t translate as easily. I was always the adult playing with the kids, thought I wanted several kids, then I had one. Now I’m good with one child.” —Jennifer, 37
That it’s better than everyone led me to believe
“Honestly, that it wasn’t as bad as everyone said. People loved to share the horror stories with us for some reason.” —Danielle, 34
This post is sponsored by Stayfree.