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Dear Moms of Newborns: What I Couldn't Tell You

Photograph by Getty Images

When you're an experienced mom—that is, you've been a mom for at least 24 hours—you share all your uber-helpful mom knowledge with every pregnant-for-the-first-time mom you come in contact with. And having been through all sorts of parental trials and errors over the past 21 years, it's hard for me to shut up once I start sharing.

But what about the real dirt on motherhood—the things you just can't explain? Turns out, I'm not being all that honest about everything. Along with the joys are some harder, undeniable aspects of motherhood that you'll have to experience for yourself.

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How hard it will be to leave them with someone for the first time

It doesn't matter if it's the new daycare provider you carefully vetted or your own mother, leaving your wee one in someone else's care is tough. Sure, part of you will do a happy dance, but you will probably feel equal parts sad and giddy.

How much it hurts YOU when they are sick

That first time your child is sick will break your heart. Tiny sniffles, fevers or horrible, barky coughs are not for the faint of heart. Moms lose a lot of sleep when their little ones aren't feeling their best.

The worry that begins with his first breath will continue through the teenage years—and beyond

I remember thinking that all I had to do was get him to 18. That's it. But now that my son is 21 years old, it's becoming more and more obvious that I will always worry about him, even well beyond the teenage years, even though he is doing well, finishing school and has a great head on his shoulders. Oh, the worry.

The fear you will feel when teaching them to walk, ride a bike, cross the street safely or drive a car

Learning to let go is both exhilarating and gripping. I can remember feeling like crying while smiling a mile wide at those first few solo laps on a bicycle and the first solo car ride. Gulp.

The feeling that a chunk of your heart goes missing every time you are apart

Being a mom is a 24/7 commitment, even when they aren't physically with you. I thought this would change as mine got older and more independent, but no. It's not like I can't handle being apart from them—really, I can. But there is just this feeling of unrest in my heart until all my chicks are back in the nest. I sleep the best at night when both of mine are home and fast asleep in their beds.

You would do anything in your power to keep them from feeling hurt

It starts early on, with those first friend rejections on the playground or at preschool. There isn't anything quite as heartbreaking as watching your child suffer through hurt feelings. And just wait until the romances begin, moms. Your heart will break right alongside hers, even if you didn't like the dude in the first place.

They will test you and test you until you break—many times over—as they try their wings

Your children will put you through the wringer multiple times between the toddler years and the 20s. And the thing is, they have to do it in order to grow up and succeed at being on their own. Nobody really likes to admit how big a part of parenting this give-and-take is until you are deep in the trenches. Sorry about that.

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They will make you both more angry and more proud than any other person you will ever meet

Seriously, when you look at that little face and those sweet newborn eyes, you cannot even imagine being upset at her. But you will be and you will recover—only to be insanely proud just around the corner.

Maybe the most important thing we can tell those new moms is to just enjoy the ride.

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