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20 Secrets of Motherhood

Psst. PSSSST. You there, with the tired eyes. I know those eyes; I’ve had those eyes.

I could spot a new mom anywhere (and it has nothing to do with that adorable babe strapped to your chest, swinging those baby moccasins). I actually recognize it from the inside out. I remember when everything was so new and confusing — the contentment and adoration and complete exhaustion?

Actually ... now that I’m back to a normal human sleep cycle and can think clearly, and now that I’ve gained a bit of perspective over the past six years, I could let you in on a few secrets. If you want.

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Now ease up, it’s nothing mystical or juicy. These are secrets that get learned and understood as the years tick on, markings of the Sisterhood of Mothers. Some of these secrets bring out defensiveness or insecurity from certain moms, and they might not like us talking about them in the open like this. Most of these secrets were suspiciously glossed over by our moms or society in general, although all moms know them to be true on some level. Yet you won’t find them in a #happyfamily Facebook status or perfectly filtered Instagram photo.

These are the things that I wish a friend told me back when I was a young, scared pregnant woman or a young, overwhelmed new mom. So allow me to impart a little wisdom and reassurance, between you and me…

1. We all feel like we’re failing, at times.

Those moments of internal failure still hit us like a brick to the heart.

And other times, when our children are polite and inquisitive and lovely, we feel like we’re doing a pretty solid job. It’s a roller coaster, but those moments of internal failure still hit us like a brick to the heart. You’re not the only one who feels them.

2. We’re judgmental because we’re insecure.

Of course we “should” be less judgmental of other moms/people, but nothing will change unless we stop judging ourselves first.

3. We might be mothers, but we still have unhealthy patterns and hardwired conditioning that gets in the way.

Being a human is hard and humbling, and we don’t really know what we’re doing. Yet tiny people look up to us like we do.

4. We all want to do our best.

No matter the political affiliation, parenting philosophy or socioeconomic class.

5. We all have heaviness in our hearts.

A mixture of sadness, fear, gratitude and bursting love...

We share a body with these living organisms — we feel their hiccups and heartbeats inside of us — and then we send them out into the world, away from us. There’s heaviness in our hearts through every stage and milestone — a mixture of sadness, fear, gratitude and bursting love. Get used to that extra weight; it isn’t going anywhere.

6. We don’t enjoy every minute.

And we don’t have to.

7. We need to take care of ourselves, too.

It’s actually the best thing we can do for our kids.

8. Sometimes we really hate playing pretend.

And we engage in an impressive level of distraction and alternate suggestions before sitting down on the floor, plastic toys in hand, giving ourselves an internal pep talk. “Play with him for 20 minutes. You can do anything for 20 minutes.”

9. We’re scared.

All of us. Kidnappings, vaccine fears, car accidents, effing EBOLA. The world’s problems magnify when we bring a new life into it. That’s our new normal.

10. We’re permanently insane.

We irrationally mull over the worst possible scenarios.

We shoot up from a dead sleep to listen to a baby’s rising chest — just to make sure. We think we hear a tiny voice calling us from the other room, but the house is empty. We irrationally mull over the worst possible scenarios that could happen to our kids before falling asleep. The insanity in me recognizes the insanity in you. Namaste.

11. We feel lonely, too.

Despite the booming online parenting culture, new motherhood can be isolating and lonely. We’ve moved on to a new life stage, and some friends don’t follow us. It happens to the best of us.

12. We can’t do it all.

I’m not sure if we’re supposed to say that out loud, but there it is. It’s the truth. If we’re doing EVERYTHING at once, we’re not doing anything well. Life is about compromises and priorities. The tide will change, as it does, and we’ll eventually have it all … just not at the same time.

13. Our lives get a heckuva lot easier once we learn to politely nod at unwanted advice, or take backhanded insults less personally.

(See No. 2.)

14. Pro tip #1

The surest way to wake a baby is to sit down for dinner.

15. Pro tip #2

The surest way to make a baby poop is to buckle him into a car seat, preferably while you’re running late.

16. Pro tip #3

The surest way to make your baby puke is to put him in something really, really cute. Plan your days accordingly.

17. Motherhood doesn’t always come naturally.

That doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

18. You don’t need ALL THE STUFF.

The “stuff” doesn’t make you more prepared or accepted.

Don’t be blinded by brand names and status symbols. Trust me — the “stuff” doesn’t make you more prepared or accepted. In a year or two, you’ll be left with a $1000 stroller that sits in your closet, always in your closet, just in case there’s another baby one day.

19. Related: As soon as you sell/give away said stroller (and other overpriced baby products), you will get pregnant.

This is a law of nature.

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20. Every phase feels overwhelming, and then every phase passes.

This isn’t so much a secret — it’s an undeniable truth — but the secret is to understand and accept it into your life. To repeat to yourself: THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY. And then find ways to appreciate the hard, wonderful, painful, love-filled temporary moment.

You’ll figure all of this out on your own, in time.

For now, here’s a coffee. Four hours to bedtime. You can do it.

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