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To the me before I was Mama:

There are some things I want you to know. This parenting thing is going to be kind of cool, to put it lightly. One day you’re not a mom and then the next, you will be. You’re not given a manual. You’ll have no idea what the heck you’re doing. But you know what? You’re going to do it and have so many laughs and so many tears in the process.

In the beginning, you won’t be preparedno matter how many books and blogs you’ve read. You’ve never known the pain of labor and have never had your body hurt and leak and ache in so many places for so long. There’s truly nothing like the physical (or emotional) toll of bringing a child into this world.

You’re going to lose who you were for a short time. You will give nothing short of all of yourself to this new little life. You will live in one-and-a-half-hour increments and have to decide whether to eat or shower or sleep or do something “for you” before needing to pump or feed and change a diaper all over again, pressing repeat for what will seem like an eternity.

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Spoiler alert: sleep usually wins that battle. You’re going to be deprived of it. You will feel a tired that’s so deep in your bones you’ll wonder how you ever used to pull all-nighters in college. This is not the same. I repeat, this is NOT the same. You may hate coffee now, but you’ll drink it like it’s your job as a mom. And whether you want it iced or not, it’ll always be cold. You’ll just have to get used to that.

You’ll have lots of bagsunder your eyes and over your shoulder. Who knew something so little could need so much stuff?! Your bags will have bags, and you will still forget things. It’s inevitable. You won’t only forget things, you’ll forget to text people back. You’ll forget about the load of laundry in the wash for a few days then have to wash it again, a couple of times. Baby brain—it’s a real thing. You’ll also forget what it’s like to have no worries in the world. From here on out, it’s not just about you anymore.

You’re going to struggle to stay awake during the day from lack of sleep, and you’ll struggle to sleep at night from an overabundance of anxiety. You’ll have plans made for everything—not only for doctor appointments and meals for the week and birthday parties and holidays, but also for what happens if the baby chokes or the escape plan if the house catches on fire. You will have all of life’s problems figured out in the wee hours of the morning.

You’re going to praise and curse your new body. It made a whole human. It’s pretty stinking marvelous. But it’s also going to look different. And feel different. And it may not be a good different in your mind’s eye. You’re going to have to learn to give yourself grace and have patience. That is going to be really, really hard to do.

You’re going to cry in the shower on the regular and attempt to wash away the guilt of yelling too much or not snuggling them enough. Or not doing anything enough because you will never feel you’re doing enough. Except when it comes to laundry or bottle washing or doubting yourself—you will do more than enough of that. That doesn’t ever seem to end.

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You’ve never known love like this. You thought life was pretty cool when you could sleep in and go out whenever you wanted. You thought it was cool to spend all your money on fancy new purses or shoes for yourself. You thought life couldn’t get any better. But then it does. And when you hold your baby for the first time or hear “I love you, Mom” coming from the cutest little voice, your heart will burst into a million tiny pieces over and over again.

You think you’re strong now. Just wait til Mama Bear has to make an appearance. She has no weak bone in her body when it comes to the protection of her child. But my goodness how weak you’ll be when you see a skinned knee or hear cries from a bad dream.

You’ll want nothing more than to raise strong, independent, and kind children. And when you do, you won’t be prepared for the ache when they can get dressed on their own or walk into school by themselves. It’s hard not wanting to be needed, but wanting to be needed at the same time. Like, super duper hard.

So, to the me before I was Mama, know this is going to be the best and hardest thing you will ever do. You’re going to be good at it some days. You’re going to be bad at it some days. But most of all, you’re going to love it all of the days.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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