Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

When I Have Kids I Will Never …

Recently I have come across a few different posts about the things moms said they would “never ever do” before they had children.  One of these posts is from my friend, Mary Evelyn, at What Do You Do, Dear.  The other is here.  Basically, the idea behind these posts and others like it is that we often have so many ideas of how we will be when we have children, and we absolutely are certain of things we will never, ever do.  But, the reality is, once those kiddos come home, the game changes significantly.

I have been thinking about this a lot and wondering why?  Why is it that we think we know what it takes to be the perfect mom and then, come to find out, we don’t know as much as we thought we did?  I think I’ve narrowed it down to three major things …

1.  Before I had Micah, I severely underestimated the emotional connection/attachment/investment that I would have for this tiny human being.  Oh sure, I knew kids were great, I’d heard how much they change your life.  But to actually have him in my arms and feel those emotions was a different story.  And it impacts everything I do and all the choices I make.  Discipline isn’t as cut and dry as I thought because punishing my boy is about as enjoyable as sticking my fingers in a hot toaster.  

And worrying.  Oy.  The what-if scenarios my mind was (and is!) capable of imagining was multiplied by infinity as I worried about everything from germs on a paci to the emotional damage I must certainly be incurring by allowing my child to cry in his crib while I made myself a sandwich. My emotional drive to protect this tiny little person might have even lead me, earlier this year, to sass back to a three-year-old who was just teasing my barely two-year-old for still using diapers.  That may have happened …

Those new emotions are such a crazy mine-field.  And they make all the difference.

2.  Before I had Micah, I severely underestimated the relentlessness of it all.  Let’s just say that newborns, especially nursing newborns, care very little about your need for space.  And, come to think of it, neither do infants or toddlers.  The other morning my son came to me at 5:45 am (less than an hour before I needed to wake up), tossed his sippy cup in my direction and said, “Mommy, want to get me some more milk?”  (For the record, no, no I don’t want to get you more milk … but I will do it because I love you).  

There is no real “break” for mommies.  You work long hours and are still on-call at night.  The kiddos never cease needing food, clothes, snuggles, and playtime.  It really is wonderful, but it never stops.  And that can drive you to do things you thought you would never do, just for sanity’s sake (Curious George tv marathons, anyone?).

And lastly, 

3. Before I had Micah, I severely underestimated the levels of fatigue I would experience.  Newborn days, certainly.  But even after Micah slept through the night (and stopped sleeping through the night, and then started sleeping through the night …), I was, and still am, operating on levels of sleepiness I’d never pushed through ever before.  And, it is my personal theory, that the reason for this never-ending, extreme exhaustion is the level of emotion and constant demand involved with motherhood (see points 1 and 2 above).  

Knowing now all that motherhood entails, I let out a slight chuckle when I think about the girl who claimed she would never let her child have a messy face or sleep in her bed or disobey.  There was so much I had never even considered would become factors before I actually started living life with my sweet boy.  And, now that I have, I realize that obsessing over messy faces and sleeping arrangements isn’t that important.  And the obedience thing, hopefully I’m setting up good patterns now that will pay off in the future because right now … yeah.  

Motherhood is an amazing, breathtaking, overwhelming, joyful, exhausting, unbelievably humbling experience.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.   

What would you add to the list?  What did you severely underestimate before you had children? 

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  • Darla - Fun Post idea – while I DO believe in a good/better/best parenting styles (there are the multiple ways to get the same end result, but some of those methods are better than others, honestly) – Anyway, that is a tangent I could talk about for hours:-) Something I said I would do – and I actually stuck to it – was a 7pm bedtime for my kids. Something I said I would never do – and I do it -feed them oatmeal. Something I underestimated – …there are probably many things, actually, but one that comes to mind at the moment is how angry/upset they can make me. I guess that is a weird thing to confess, and granted it does not happen often, but given my family background, even though my younger siblings were not *mine*, I really did kinda feel like they were my kids, and the overwhelming love aspects that you feel as a new mom…well I was surprised to find out that I had felt those before (I was 21 when youngest sister was born) – so that didn't surprise me quite as much as the flip side to that – the emotional investment with siblings was basically all on the loving, cute and happy side of things. I didn't deal with discipline or the frustrations therein. So I was perhaps under a false impression that infants or small children were not capable of making me upset or even mad/angry. HAH!! It's *amazing* how easily those little tyrants can push my buttons! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Robin - Such a great post! We are only 13 weeks in to parenting but there are already a handful of things we said we'd never do….for example we said we'd travel often with our baby and wouldn't let having a baby stop us. Well, we do have a lot of trips on the horizon but what I didn't expect was how stressed/nervous I'd be about it! There's just no way of knowing until you hold that little one in your arms 🙂


  • fawne - Love that last picture!ReplyCancel

  • Mary Evelyn - Yes yes and yes! "Relentlessness" is just the right word for it. I don't think I had any idea how constant everything would be– that I would have so little time to take a breather!ReplyCancel

  • Larissa - Gorgeous pictures of you and Micah 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Well I think you handle motherhood with great aplomb. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - It's so true! And, it's amazing how much you have to pack for those little ones. Sheesh!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Thank you … me too. After bathtime snuggles <3ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Me too … it was the biggest shocker for me. But, if anyone was to not give me the space I need, I would want it to be my little man 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Thank you! He's my special sweetie.ReplyCancel

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