Pooping Alone and Other Expectations to Drop Before Baby Comes Along
There is nothing like a first kid to make you realize how quickly your life can truly change in an instant. Our daughter was a big surprise to us and whenever anyone conveyed to us how life was about to change, we brushed it off. It felt so… cliche. We certainly didn’t think we were experts, or even ready for that matter. But I guess we just didn’t realize how right all of those friends were when the time came!
Becoming a parent is an adventure every step of the way, and we’re never ready for anything until it’s here! I never thought I’d be the parent that served half-thawed non-organic chicken nuggets for dinner; I never thought I’d ever let my daughter watch TV, and I certainly didn’t think my kid would be the one with ketchup in her hair. I just really, really wanted a clean baby. On top of that, she’d never say anything awkward or embarrassing in front of strangers. Ha!
Among the first of expectations I lost in the earliest days of parenthood was the dream of bathroom privacy. It starts out so innocently… you bring the bassinet into the bathroom because you want to hear every little whimper just so that you can finally take a shower. That child will grow; they will follow you into the bathroom. When your pants are at your knees and you’re minding your own literal business, they will want to snuggle your lap and play with your underwear. “Mommy, you don’t have Elmo on your underwear!” (the audacity!) They will watch you wipe. I am not kidding when I say that they will try to wipe you for you. It’s all very kind and well-intentioned, just… sigh. After all, you’re just modeling what they will do one day!
Send the expectation of understanding social cues out the window. My child is only two and a half, and it’s already beginning. Worst is, I know what’s coming. How do I know that my child will only increase in the volume of embarrassing or awkward behaviorisms as she gets older? Because I remember committing the same offenses to my parents. It is inevitable and unavoidable. Like bathroom privacy, it starts off small. A grab of a friend’s ear here, a request to see a stranger’s belly button there. At first, it’s cute. And then… “Mommy! That lady has a big bottom! I have a little bottom!”, she yells in Chipotle.
You’re more of a sucker than you realized. Don’t tell me otherwise. There are very few moments that I am completely and utterly at my wit’s end, and I often give in well before I get there (maybe that’s the problem?). This summer we were vacationing at the beach, and I remember putting my daughter down in the pack and play one night. For the first time, she said, “Mama, you wanna snuggle with me?” Of course, and now I am crying a river thankyouverymuch. Those beautiful eyes yearning for one more m&m… I can’t help myself sometimes! Can you blame me?
We live in a very small home – 980 square feet to be exact. I had this expectation that it would be easy to keep my house clean with a kid. While there is some truth to that (it takes less time to clean a small house than a large one), it’s more of a myth than anything. Even as I write this, there are stickers stuck to my hardwood floors, empty applesauce pouches on my table, and sad remains of goldfish and cheerios ground to a crumb on virtually every surface. That’s nothing to speak of the toys and clutter – my house looks like a ToysRUs going out of business sale. I vacuum twice a day and we declutter twice or three times daily. It just doesn’t stop – but that’s okay.
The first year or so of baby’s life aren’t necessarily as cluttered as toddlerhood has been for us. Little babies require far less ‘stuff’ and they don’t move around as much on their own. But, oh, can they be gross. Even through toddlerhood and beyond. When my daughter was little, it was curdled breastmilk under her chin or poop in weird crevices. Now, it’s ketchup in her hair and tinkle on the rug. Hey, it keeps me humble.
You’ll be imitated constantly (for better or for worse). When I do my little daily 7 minute workout, my daughter loves to do her own interpretation of crunches or wall sits (it’s pretty cute). She climbs on my back and pretends I’m a horse when I’m trying to plank or do push-ups. She even says, “Go, neigh, go!”. At least I’m getting stronger. She sees me wearing oven mitts in the kitchen and surprises me by playing in her own kitchen with her little mittens on.
Before having a kid I never understood why moms in public looked so harried all the time. Now I understand. Seatbelts. Car seats. Kicking. Cheerios in car. Coats in cars. In and out, in and out, all the time. And of course, you’re never going to compromise your children’s safety, but boy, that extra adjustment of a car seat strap is just one more thing for a tired mama. Body contortions of children in shocking ways to avoid said car seat. Holding the front door open with your hands full for approximately 17 minutes while your toddler decides whether or not they would like to accompany you on your travels (as if it’s a choice). Yesterday, I returned a diaper pail to a friend. My daughter was in preschool when I made this errand. I was shocked by how easy it was. I just walked out to my car, got in it, buckled myself, and left. And then I came back and it was all so effortless.
That’s another thing – your kids will always surprise you. In the scheme of things, we’re still just getting started over here. As weird and hard as it often is, they will imitate you in the sincerest and sweetest of ways; they will tell you that they love you out of the blue, and they will jump on top of you to show it. You will be everything you always swore you wouldn’t, and even if the ride is bumpy on some days, hang on – there is always something little to look for like a tiny hand or the way their right thigh has one extra roll. Hold onto those things and write them down. And congrats, mamas; being changed by your kids is the best thing you can imagine.