Before you become a parent you think you know things.
Like, I knew there would be a lot of laundry. I thought I did a lot of laundry before, but I had no concept how much more laundry one tiny person with even tinier clothes would generate. Sometimes I feel like I spend more time in our (downstairs, shared, sigh) laundry room than I do in my bedroom. I probably do. Because you also think you know you’ll be tired. But you don’t fully understand the mind-numbing, deep in your bones exhaustion that eventually becomes your status quo until you realize that your phone is in the fridge. Or that your memory is shot. Or that you read the same email 8 times and still don’t know what it said. Or that trying to follow a conversation while your eyelids are drooping down into your lap is fruitless.
I’ve been asked many times what was the most surprising thing about becoming a mom. And I’ve considered mentioning the laundry. Or the exhaustion. But if they really want to know what the hardest, most surprising thing was for me, it was the surreal end of innocence. For a time it felt like mourning, heavy and consuming. I was grateful and in awe and, yes, I was also truly happy.
But I mourned the time before my son became an indelible part of my trajectory. When I could be selfish. Before I knew what it was like to have a love that also has the power to destroy you, in a different way than you’ve ever loved. Before I knew what it feels like to have part of my heart outside of my body. All things I may have thought I knew before…but I had no idea.
I can’t unknow those things, but it finally feels less raw. The edges have become softer. And I know I would never go back.