After having worked in early childhood education for almost ten years, I figured that being a Parent would come easy. When I was little, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I would reply, "homemaker." Now that may seem silly, but it was my honest answer. There was no doubt in my mind that I was born to be a mom.
Becoming a parent, for me, was a difficult transition. There was so much more involved in it that I could have ever imagined. Yes, I am a special needs mom, which throws a whole new twist into the story, but I truly believe that regardless of that, my transition would have still been rough for me.
Today, I want to share with you why I believe my transition from an early childhood professional to being a parent was so difficult. I share this because maybe you're like me, and you thought it would be easy and are surprised by how much harder it is than you imagined. Please know you are not alone in this journey. Yes, being a parent does come easy for some, but not all, including myself!
Here are the 5 Things I Wish Someone Told me before I became a Parent:
After working in the early childhood realm for over ten years, I figured, I got this. I knew I could handle four babies to myself, our state ration, how hard could one be! What I didn't realize is that when the child is your own, there is so much emotion mixed in, and they are yours 24/7! Both of these facts rocked my world. I honestly think that I had a false sense of how easy it would be just because I had done it 9-5. I am here to tell you there is nothing that can prepare you for being a mom. There is a crash course, and that is learning by doing, and that's about it.
Something I never fully understood or even thought about before becoming a parent is that being a mom is one job that has no breaks. Even if you are away from your child, you're still a parent. The pressures, expectations, and worries are all still there. I think this is something that particularly hits the primary caregiver, but has impacts for sure on all parents. Taking breaks physically from my child has been a great help. If you don't already, make sure you schedule in a few breaks here and there, you'll need them!
Before becoming a mom, I had experienced much success in my job. I had just been given a new role for about a year prior, and I had my dream job. When we found out we were going to have a baby, I didn't think twice about giving up my career, of course I would stay.
Everyone's situation is different, but after having a baby in the NICU for 30 days, a lot has changed for us. My priorities changed, and I knew I might not be able to go back. I'll say I tried, and I did, very hard, but it wasn't working. My medically complicated child needed me home, so that's what I did, I left my job and stayed at home.
Leaving this success behind was so hard. Yes, there was something better instore, but at the time, I was not able to see it. All I could see was my dream job going away while I stayed home with my crying baby.
If you go on Pinterest or any social media site, you will see all the pressures that parents face. The struggle is real, and it will impact you whether you like it or not. There are so many decisions you need to make. Cloth vs. disposable diapers, breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, or squeeze pouches vs. homemade food. As a new mom, making all these decisions can be overwhelming. My advice is to think about your family values. Choose which things you want to stand up for and do those things, don't worry about the rest!
After the shock of being a mom sunk in, I was left to rediscover who I was. I found this particularly hard and still find myself developing in this area today. I realize that I can be more than I thought as a parent in the beginning stages. I am currently redefining my identity as a mom, wife, community citizen, writer, vlogger, and a leader in the child care industry. Time will tell where this will go, and yet I can finally say I am excited about the possibilities that await.
If you are a parent, I can guarantee that you related to at least one of the five things I mentioned, and I am here to say, YOU GOT IT! If you are thinking about becoming a parent yourself, I hope that this blog helps prepare you for the road ahead. I also encourage you to help support the new parents around you because they need it!
Nothing in the world can replace the joys we have as parents, it's just the transitions in life that can be difficult as we rebuild ourselves in the mist.