At 4 years old, she has her father’s adventurous spirit, courage, and sense of independence. She started diving under water at 2 and knows all of the Star Wars characters. She once ate an entire raw onion slice off of my hamburger and told us it was “yummy.” She will tackle any roller coaster without hesitation and refuses to let me kiss her boo-boos. But for all the parts of her that she inherited from Daddy, she is just like Mommy too. She has no less than 5 “babies” emerge from her tummy per day. They are often dragons or frogs or turtles or cats. She names them, feeds them, puts them to bed, and cares for them when they are sick. Like I was at 4, she is a little mommy.
And 20-something years from now, when she is ready to truly fulfill her role as a mother, other mothers will probably tell her many things. They may warn her of how painful labor will be. They may tell her that she will never sleep again and that she’ll bid farewell to her pre-baby body and free time. They may tell her that her marriage will change forever and that she will not enjoy sushi happy hour for years to come.
But sweet girl of mine, there are so many things that I hope nobody tells you about motherhood.
I hope nobody tells you that you will feel like a failure, because, you will. You might feel it more than you feel success.
I pray nobody tells you that nursing might be damn-near impossible and is almost as painful as delivery.
I hope nobody warns you that you’ll shut herself in your bedroom and lock the doors so you can silently sob into a pillow after your 4-year-old pees her pants for the 95th time.
I pray nobody warns you of the days that your spouse calls at 4:00 in the afternoon and hears the crack in your voice as you struggle to hold in tears. And screams. And swears.
I hope nobody scares you and tells you how isolating it will be. I hope nobody forewarns you that you will take your baby to the park and search with exhausted eyes for another mom in the hopes of bridging a friendship.
I pray nobody says that at bedtime, when the kids ask to be snuggled, you will make up an excuse of why Mommy can’t, because Mommy has nothing left to give.
I hope nobody tells you that you will, on more than one occasion, sit “criss-crossed applesauce” on the floor with your 5-year old and confess that “Mommy messed up and Mommy was sorry” for yelling at him when he did nothing wrong.
I hope nobody tells you that you will make a habit of loading up all 3 kids in the car and then steal back into the house for 5 extra minutes by yourself, because that’s how desperate you will be for space.
I pray nobody warns you that while you will relish your time alone, you will also suffer crippling loneliness in the same day.
I pray nobody tells you how terrified you will be to mess this job up and how equally terrifying (and humbling) it will be to ask for help. But I hope you do find the courage to ask.
I hope you enter motherhood naive and optimistic and confident. Because if someone tells you how gut-wrenchingly hard this job is, you may miss the pride you’ll feel watching your confident 5-year-old walk into kindergarten without looking back. If you are warned that your failure at potty-training will break you into a shell of a mother at times, you may miss tea parties and marathon puzzle races with your only daughter. And if you are warned how challenging every hour of every day is going to be with a toddler who breaks everything, steals everything, and eats everything in his path, you might possibly miss his dimples, him learning new phrases like “How ’bout… dis one?” and him asking for “hug, Mama, hug.”
My prayer for you, my beautiful 4-year-old innocent little girl, is that nobody tells you how painful motherhood is before you embark upon the journey yourself. For that would be the greatest gift you could receive.