Remember when you were dating or newly married, and you dreamed about the future?
How many kids you would have? How long would you wait before trying? How many years apart? Would they take after you? What kind of future would they have? Will they play T-ball, take ballet? What about middle names?
Well if your life went anything like mine, you quickly realized that not everything goes exactly as planned! Perhaps a few decisions stuck, and maybe the family name was carried on, but I think we can all agree that there are parts of parenthood that we didn’t see coming. For me, a few things really jump out as “curve balls” that I never planned into my mommyhood future … things like loneliness, having a child with serious health issues, and hectic schedules, coupled with the cost of kids!
I’m a people-person. I am rejuvenated after an hour (or three!) of hanging out with a girlfriend chatting about anything under the sun! I never EVER saw loneliness affecting my life, but as one child turned to two, and then three, I found myself more and more absorbed in Dora the Explorer and less and less in girls’ nights out! It’s so hard, it seems, to get some free time … go out and have a kid-free, care-free night with the gals, when all you can think about is laundry and legos.
Having a child with health issues is definitely not something a parent plans. My oldest daughter Alexandria was born with a hand deformity. That alone sent our world into a tailspin when she had to have her first surgery at 7 months. We thought that was the extent to her health issues, until at one year old she was diagnosed with a seizure disorder. She is now 14 years old and has had four surgeries on her hands, tubes put in her ears, two Vagus Nerve Stimulator surgeries, and a two-part brain surgery to remove a mass in her brain, which was followed up by intense therapy to relearn how to walk, talk and move her right arm and leg again … approximately 10 EEG’s, multiple MRI’s and countless hospital stays. Yep, I never saw that coming!
Kids are expensive. Kids have demanding schedules. Kids test your character. And yet, kids add depth to our lives. They can say the darndest things and make us giggle when we want to scream! Yes, when I was dreaming about my future, I never imagined a portion of what really happens as a parent.
So where do we go from here?
I remember when I first moved to Florida, I had a 3 year old and an 11 month old. Within a couple years we added our third child. The days were exhausting. Between struggling with nap schedules, doctor appointments, health issues and experiencing a loneliness like I never imagined, it was hard. Then, one day a friend told me something.
It’s only a phase.
She was right.
However, those four words didn’t completely sink in and come full circle until about seven years passed by, and I was having lunch with a friend. She was frazzled, tense … her toddler was testing her patience BIG TIME. She had a hopeless look on her face, and then words slipped out of my mouth … “It’s only a phase.”
Did I really just say that? Yep!
If I were to pass along one bit of advice, it’s this. Follow closely to someone who has walked down the path that you are on. Whether it’s the hardship of a miscarriage, the day-to-day struggles of a child with health issues, if you are a mom of multiples, or if you are just plain exhausted from this new adventure of mommyhood, find a support group or friend who’s been there and done that. Learn from them. Stay encouraged by them.
Secondly, and just as important – be available to someone who might learn from you! Your words of encouragement might be a lifesaver to a frazzled mommy on the verge of collapse!
Yes it’s a phase, but it’s a wonderful one! One day you will look back and reflect on this time of your life. I hope you will see how much you have grown as a person and as a mom. I hope you will have many stories to tell. And, I hope that you will be a voice of encouragement to other young moms.
editor in chief
We asked our Facebook Fans
What is the most UNexpected thing that mommyhood has thrown your way?
Anna C. – “How hard breastfeeding is and that it doesn’t work for everyone.”
Leslie L. – “Thrush”
Chelley M. – “Dwarfism!”
Jackie V. – “Loss of brain cells! —or is that just me making up an excuse for old age?? Lol!”
Gina D. – “Dwarfism for me too!”
Amy N. – “A lot more love and a lot more anxiety!”
Donna R. – “That I’d keep wanting to have more children.”
Sarah P. – “The amount of bodily fluids.”
Sarah L. – “The realization of my own selfishness. I didn’t realize how much I would improve as a person by having children.”
Thomas L. – “The fact that someone so little can be such a BIG part of my life, and how happy those 4 words ‘I love you pa-pa’ can make all the worries of the day seem so unimportant.”
Sarah B. – “The lack of sleep! But oh so worth it!!!”
Sara O. – ”To truly learn what unconditional love means. They loved me even when I didn’t love myself, and that alone brought me back some from very, very dark places, showed or reminded me that everyone deserves love!!”