My Unwritten Instruction Pamphlet for New Moms, I Wrote After Lots of Wine
Ahh, parenthood. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to a life you never imagined, full of exhaustion, snuggles, explosive joy, a plethora of bodily fluids, and SO MANY wipes. If only there were some kind of instruction manual. But there isn’t. Just a tsunami of contradictory information on everything, everywhere you look. What I find most useful (and comforting) are the weird absurdities, brutally honest insights, and war stories parents in the trenches trade in whispers at play dates and over cocktails at backyard BBQs. So, in the spirit of making a new parent’s life easier, I’m sharing a few of my own strange discoveries in what I like to call: My Unwritten Instruction Pamphlet for New Moms, I Wrote After Lots of Wine.
WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD! We’re so glad you’re here – not just because misery loves company, although it does, but because we’re always on the hunt for normal people for play dates. For the first few days after birth, this all may not seem real, and that’s expected. I think it’s your body’s way of making you forget about everything, so you have more babies. Which you totally should. Just try to remember, you are the real parent and no other parents are coming to pick up your baby. It’s really yours. You should also know you can’t return the baby like an adopted pet that you’re all of a sudden “allergic” to.
Next on your exciting journey, you’ll quickly discover that it’s totally possible to fall asleep while walking. Did you know sleep deprivation is a form of torture? Coupled with trying to keep a baby alive and clean while you’re wearing undies made out of a hairnet, you might question your choice to be a parent at all at this point. You might even think you’re terrible at it. And you probably are, but that’s OK. This is trial by fire for crying out loud, so cut yourself some slack as you get the hang of it. I promise you will. Luckily, babies are notoriously forgiving, and kids don’t really start forming explicit memories that they’ll keep as adults until they're about four to six years old, so you have some time to get it together.
I hate to bring this next part up but, if you had a vaginal birth, you’re in for a bit of a surprise. Your body performed a miracle, and what’s left looks a little like the aftermath of Coachella. At this stage, my lady parts looked like a Picasso painting, with two misplaced lips, and one eyeball keeping a lookout for intruders. Having sex for the first time after birth felt more like the rescue of a trapped Chilean miner. But somehow it all worked out and everything eventually healed, although a few things were left just a little darker, longer, and wiser. The good news is, you’re allowed to wear your maternity clothes for as long as you want. I wore mine for three years straight.
Which brings me to the pelvic floor, an ignored muscle that holds up some really important organs. In fact, if it’s too weak, those organs can tumble like a Jenga tower and fall out of your vagina. And I thought Kegels were just for fun. Nope. Get help with this STAT.
Now, on to diapers. You might not think so now, but let me tell you, newborn poop is adorable. It’s like the tiny turd of a teacup poodle. Just wait until your child is two and a half, eating solids, and takes up the entire length of the changing table. You’ll feel like you’re changing the diaper of a forty-six year old. So dab a little of that meconium joy on your neck and wrists and enjoy this moment.
You know what else is adorable? Your baby. So cute, in fact, you might want to eat it. Not in a cannibal kind of way, more like you’ll wish there were a fuzzy-baby-head-smell froyo flavor. Our bodies release pheromones to help you bond with and love your baby so much that you won’t fantasize about putting it in a basket and leaving it on your more capable neighbor’s doorstep – at least until they’re toddlers, anyway.
Speaking of when they become toddlers, did you know it’s easier to train a dog than a child? Knowing that small fact will save you years of frustration wondering how you can repeat “Your private parts are private,” and “Get your head out of the toilet” on a daily basis for several years, yet all they remember is every single word from Frozen, and how you said something bad about grandma four months ago.
That’s because toddlers truly are magical creatures that will do so many impressive things in a span of just a few short years, you’ll wonder if they’re a genius. They’re not. Because if they were, they wouldn’t prefer playing with a pair of your husband’s dirty boxers over your expensive Montessori toys, and they definitely wouldn’t believe all the lies you tell them like, “Sorry, my ice cream is too spicy for you,” and “No, that animal on the road isn’t dead, it’s just sleeping.”
Moms with older kids will constantly tell you, “Enjoy it, it goes by fast!” And you will want to punch them in the face because sometimes it feels like the slowest, hardest time of your life. But they mean well, and what they’re trying to say is, “I wish I took more time standing still, not rushing, worrying, overthinking, fearing, trying, learning, escaping, crying, and found one moment of pure joy with my innocent babe each day to stand still in, because it gets louder and more chaotic fast.” And they’re right. So do the best that you can, and get whatever support you need to remember the tiny beautiful moments, kisses, snuggles, mispronounced words, and giggles more than everything else. Because that’s what this wild ride is all about.
Martini Paratore is a comedian turned mom/weeper/oversharer. She wishes she were a mom in the 80s, because that sounds easier. You can follow her on Instagram @MartiniADay
PHOTO CREDITS: All photos provided by Martini Paratore