You can wear out your mouse-pad surfing all the top ranked baby websites, fill your shopping cart to overflowing with the must-read baby magazines, manuals, and momoirs, but, in the end, it’s your mom-friends who tell you what you really need to know. Here are five all-important lessons about motherhood that I learned from other moms.
1. Only supermodels shed their baby weight by the six-week checkup. (Okay supermodel mommies and their biological equivalents. You’ll meet the odd non-supermodel who manages to get skinny fast, but she’s the exception rather than the rule. The rest of us take months (or longer) to lose our baby bellies.) So don’t measure yourself against the super-crazy supermodel mommy weight loss standards unless you want to start speed-dialing the therapists of the rich and famous.
2. Your partner is not "the enemy". It just feels that way at 3 am. It’s easy to start staring daggers at your sleeping partner, particularly if you’re convinced he’s ignoring your baby’s middle-of-the-night cries, just so he can snatch a few more minutes of uninterrupted sleep. Before you pack your bags and hop the next train to Splitsville, take it from other moms who’ve been there: He’s not a selfish swine: he’s just a sound sleeper. Scientists have discovered that dads simply don’t hear babies’ cries as well as moms do in the night. Of course, you can help him to hear better by giving him a gentle poke or prod if you need some middle-of-the-night support. There’s no scientific research to show that Dads can’t be roused to provide hands-on help to moms.)
3. Germs have been getting a bad rap. Studies have shown that taking things to extremes on the housecleaning front can increase children’s likelihood of developing allergies. In other words, a few germs can be a good things as far as kids are concerned. So relax a little and consider giving your inner Martha Stewart the day off every now and again.
4. Every mom needs time off for good behavior. Whether you take your time off across town, around the corner, or in your bathtub with the door locked is up to you. (Not every new mom wants to venture too far away from her baby, after all.) But taking some sort of break from baby will give you the chance to recharge your maternal batteries and get reacquainted with your pre-baby self. (Remember her?)
5. Time doesn’t move at a predictable speed once you’ve become a mother. Some days—the not-so-great days—tick by painfully slowly. Then entire months flip by in roughly the same amount of time in takes to flip a page on your calendar. S-l-o-w d-o-w-n, speedup, s-l-o-w d-o-w-n, speedup: it reminds you of the way your Slinky used to flip-flop down the stairs when you were a child, gathering up speed and taking on a life of its own.
Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting, including—most recently—Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler. Visit her on the web at www.motherofallblogs.com.