I could never have imagined: Expectations about Motherhood – A TRDC writing challenge

I could never have imagined how the most menial, trivial things would become rare, precious commodities.

Then I gave birth to my son.

I expected sleep deprivation: I did not expect to only acquire five hours total sleep over the first three days of his life. My crystal ball neglected to inform me that some babies will only stay asleep if they’re being held – cribs are simply fancy dust catchers. I learned the car seat was the only place he’d stay asleep -other than someone’s arms – and wondered where was that tidbit of information in “What to Expect?” I realized four hours of exhaustion sleep a night were something to curse be grateful for.

I expected to breastfeed him: I did not expect it to be a painful, exhausting, ten hour a day ordeal.  I did everything correctly, but somehow my son had the ability to retract his tongue from cushioning the lower jaw – resulting in full pressure on me.  My insanely stubborn nature, pumping milk for the majority of the feedings, and nipple cream saved me. Yes, nipple cream – more valuable than gold in surviving the first two months of nursing my son.  Then he outgrew the retraction thing and I finally had the sweet bonding “whip-it-out-on-demand” experience I’d initially anticipated.

I expected my son would demand a lot of attention: I did not expect my bathroom to transform into Grand Central Station.  Before my son, nobody ever saw me use the bathroom – I was a private always-lock-the-door person. Never in all of my Motherhood Dreams did I ever predict I would have an audience 95% of the time.

I expected I might have to give up some “me” time as a mother: I did not expect the basic need of “take a shower” to become so difficult to achieve.  Until my son went to a single nap a day, his daytime sleep schedule was unpredictable. If I believed he would sleep an hour, he’d sleep fifteen minutes. If I thought it would be just a quickie, he’d sleep two hours.  If I dared try to shower during the day, the act of stepping into the hot spray would send a telepathic message to his sleeping brain saying, “Hey! Time to wake up screaming!” I learned to wait until my husband returned home in the evening to even try to shower.  I finally joined a gym when he was a little over six months old – not to just work out and lose the baby weight, but so I could shower before 7 PM.

This upped the Stay at Home Mommy Happiness Factor by about 1000%.

I expected I would have to put his needs ahead of mine: I did not expect to kiss good-bye any hope of consuming a hot meal – while it was still hot – for the next eighteen months.  Like the “Wake Up Mommy Is in the Shower” signal, all it took was for my food to arrive or finish cooking and suddenly, my previously happy child turned into a demon spawn unless I completed whatever task he needed from me.  This was most often feeding him instead.

I expected I would love my son: I did not expect the overwhelming you-would-do-anything-for-this-person-even-give-up-showers-peeing-alone-sleeping-or-eating-hot-food-without-even-blinking feeling. I could never have imagined loving someone so unconditionally, so deeply, when they had yet to speak a word to me. The days my son first smiled and laughed are still among the highlights of being a mother.

When he was a little over two and half years old, I gave birth to his baby sister.

Then the whole world shifted.

Your assignment for this week’s prompt is to write a piece that begins with the line, “I could never have imagined” and ends with the line, “Then the whole world shifted.” We’re going to stick with the 600-word limit this week.

Disclaimer: This is my first Red Dress Club entry.  I wrote this with a sinus headache rivaling the thunder of a wild stampede of toddlers dancing on a metal floor in tap shoes. If for some reason you still enjoyed it, feel free to check out my main mommy blog at Dances with Chaos. If you didn’t, I apologize.  I’m a work in progress.

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome, even when content is written while my head tries to re-enact the scene from Scanners where that dude’s head blew up.  Especially then.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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22 Responses to I could never have imagined: Expectations about Motherhood – A TRDC writing challenge

  1. Midwest Elle says:

    Wonderfully written!

    I was the same about bathroom use and showers. Being alone in the bathroom is the greatest luxury now days.

    • As much as I thought I knew, I just didn’t see those coming. 🙂 Bathroom alone time truly is a luxury.

      I really enjoyed yours but disqus keeps giving me an error every time I try to reply. I wanted to let you know, because my Mommy Brain will probably forget that I meant to comment by the time it is working again.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. I have a friend who is going through all of this right now. I am positive she would enjoy this read.

    Stopping by from trdc.

  3. Carrie says:

    I loved it. It’s all so so true. Sigh, 4.5 years in and I still can’t expect a solitary visit to the bathroom unless I am at work :p

    This would have fit well with one of Mama Kat’s prompts this week 🙂

    Visiting from RDC

    • Surely they won’t be doing it as teenagers, right?

      My “work” is staying at home, so unless they’re in bed, there is no solitary visit. At all. Even running errands I have to haul them into the large stall with me…

      Never a private moment.

      I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

      Glad you enjoyed it and thank you for commenting!

  4. Lydia says:

    Mine our past the age where the bathroom privacy thing should be an issue, but it still totally is. Loved this, it’s a true what to expect after list.

  5. Mandy says:

    Oh how I can relate! As, I’m sure, most mother can. You nailed it. Every bit from the breastfeeding to the bathrooms to the lack of hot meals. I almost forgot what hot food tastes like. lol

  6. Oh I could completely relate to this post! Great job! The sleep…yeah my son exactly. The breastfeeding…a no go…heartbreak, and pretty much everything else you said. Plus? 2 years and 7 months later? Little Sister and yeah the whole world does shift.

    Love it.

  7. I LOVE this post! I see me in every single thing you’ve said.

    Keep writing!


  8. Victoria KP says:

    All so very true! I joined a gym when my kids were 1 and 3 for the uninterrupted showers too!

  9. Leighann says:

    This was beautiful’
    I love all of it.
    So true, as moms we don’t get to go to the bathroom alone, take showers, eat hot meals. But the love we feel for our children makes it all ok

  10. As someone who doesn’t have kids, I really can’t imagine how the whole world shifts when they come along. I love reading these types of experiences.

  11. cristina says:

    I think maybe, you should write the next “what to expect” book, because you summed it all perfectly 🙂

  12. Oh crap…I’m at this point. Baby #2 is a couple of months away.
    Great post, great detail, you really captured the expectations and realities of motherhood.

  13. Ironic Mom says:

    So true. Well said. I’m so glad I can now finish a meal…

    I love your companion blog, Writing with Chaos. Looking forward to reading more!

  14. Kelly G says:

    OMG, are you sure we didn’t somehow manage to have the same child? I just about cried from laughter when I read some of your expectations and how they were blown to smithereens for the exact same reasons mine were too! I do not miss those first four months of breastfeeding hell before things got golden. I loved the voice you have throughout this piece, it was fun to read! I also enjoyed that the first line of the prompt was a statement on it’s own. I’ve read a few today where everything just kind of blended together in the first paragraph and it was refreshing take to see it separated and make more of an impact. And your ending was spot on. Great job!

  15. Kelly says:

    very good-sinus issues and all! 🙂

    This brought me back to a wonderful time when my kids were that age…it is exhausting, but a fun time in life…it goes quickly and it is all worth it!

  16. Jack says:

    I was the sole provider for 8 years so I missed out on some of these moments. Ok, I would have missed out on the breast feeding and birthing bit anyhow….

    But I remember the days when my kids followed us everywhere and there were a few moments where they insisted on joining me in the bathroom. Never will forget the look on my daughter’s face when she realized that I didn’t pee sitting down.

  17. Amber says:

    Oh I loved the ending! I loved how mysterious it was, awesome!

  18. What we expect and the reality of motherhood is so, so different. You captured it well! Hope you feel better soon and I’m glad you joined TRDC!

  19. Oh man, the bathroom audience. Don’t I know that well! Love your perspective and you hit the mark!

    Saying hi from TRDC!

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