Try as I might've, nothing prepared me adequately for motherhood. Nada. I think I could have read all the books under the sun and solicited advice from every expert-swaddler, La-Leche-League, organic-homemade-baby-food mom within a 100-mile radius and still felt totally inept. Don't get me wrong; it wasn't for lack of information at my fingertips. Heck, it could have been from TOO MUCH information at my fingertips (I wore WebMD out like a boss in my early parenting days, which only served to routinely convince me that my child had bacterial meningitis, or the West Nile virus, or both).
Honestly, I think I could have held a doctorate degree in raising tiny humans and still felt vastly unprepared. I think it's next to impossible to be truly ready to be a mom. It's like saying you've studied how to survive a bear attack, then actually encountering a massive bear while you're alone in the woods and realizing that textbooks can only get you so far when you're facing an unpredictable wild animal. The whole "play dead" thing goes out the window and you run for your life, hoping for the best.
You can study and decorate and take breastfeeding classes until you're a milk machine, but it's not uncommon to go blank once you realize you're dealing with an actual 7.5 pound human being with a mind and an appetite and a schedule of its own.
Motherhood is hard. It's more than hard, actually; it's exhausting. In some seasons, there are more rough days than fun days. There are the weeks on end of sickness and nasty coughs that stick around like an unwanted houseguest that has overstayed his welcome. There are the frustrations and the limitations and the worries that plague your mind.
Yes, I felt unprepared for the hard aspects of motherhood.
I was also unprepared for the life-altering, heart-transforming, paradigm-shifting moments that (in the words of Miley C.) came in like a wrecking ball, destroying me in the most beautiful and profound ways, changing me forever.
Motherhood is not for the faint of heart, and it WILL change you. If you're' thinking of embarking on this journey, pause for a moment and consider the following reasons you might should avoid having children:
If you hate hugs and abhor being showered with adoration and being told you're the best when you're pretty positive you're actually the worst, you probably don't want to have kids. It seems that, even when we're at our lowest as moms, those pesky kiddos still love us and want to hug it out (and often). A hug when you wake up, a hug before school, a hug after school, and maybe even one "just because." For some it's entirely too much expressed affection, and if you're one of those people it's best that you avoid procreating.
Once you meet your kids, you'll love them, and once you love them, well...it's next to impossible to unlove them. It's kind of bizarre, because even when they're super annoying and they're back talking and whining and acting the fool, you'll find that you still love them. If you are someone who doesn't like feeling compelled to love people forever, you might want to reconsider motherhood.
There's a lyric from one of my favorite Broadway musicals, Les Miserables, that says, "To love another person is to see the face of God." Now, I realize the Bible might beg to differ with that description of what it means to see God's face, but it's such a beautiful visual that I hold tightly to. To truly love another person, without pretense and without strings attached, is to love like God Himself loves, and in the moments when we give our love freely, I believe we catch a glimpse of the character of God in a profound way. It's impossible to experience the love of a parent and not have a deeper understanding of God the Father's love for you. If you don't want a peek into the heart of God, don't have kids.
Poorly-timed, audible farts. Mispronounced words. Birthday cake smeared from one end to the other. Poop explosions in public places. Kids are hilarious, and their antics elicit laughs on a regular basis. If you hate laughter and smiles and sunshine and unicorns and all good things, children are not for you.
Don't you hate being refined? Being thrust into the fire for long periods of time in order to slowly burn away the nastiness is no fun. It's a painful process, and sometimes we feel that the blistering heat will never subside. That said, I don't know anyone who, upon looking back at the old self, the pre-refinement self, would say that the refining process wasn't worth it. Once you're a better version of you, a more Christ-like version of you, it's extremely difficult to look back on the old you and say you aren't glad that the ugliness has been burned away. News flash: NOTHING REFINES YOU MORE DEEPLY AND MORE WHOLLY THAN BECOMING A MOTHER. Nothing will make you better more quickly than motherhood. If you don't want to change for the better and grow to look more like Jesus, definitely avoid motherhood, 'cause it's a blazing furnace.
I often find myself writing songs for my daughter to help her remember her spelling words. By songs, I mean raps. By raps, I mean that I'm the whitest of white girls and it's more like poetry, 'cause mama can't really throw down the beat, yo. Songs like "Homophones sound the same, but you spell them different-lay," and the like. Jay Z would be so proud. I have also been known to do cool things like attempt the human pretzel and press a raisin against one of my upper front teeth just so my kids think I'm awesome. I'll dance a jig if it'll make them laugh. If you are unsure about writing rap songs, attempting body contortions, faking a missing raisin tooth, or dancing like it's 1999, I'd say that motherhood might be particularly difficult for you.
You have to get out of bed on the weekends before 9am, and you have to take care of your kids before you take care of yourself. You have to wake up at night for what feels like an eternity (but is, in reality, just a blip on the radar), and you have to do stuff like buy clothes and shoes and food for them. You have to fill out paperwork ALL the dang time at ALL the dang places for ALL the dang things, and you have to memorize their social security numbers. You have to consider what's best for them before you consider things like fun and having donuts every day, and you very probably use your brain to the fullest extent for the first time. And in doing all of these things, you realize how much better you operate as a person, how much more efficiently you do things, and how much your judgment has improved. If you don't want to become a highly-functional person who can multitask and handle a boatload of stress, avoid motherhood at all costs.
Knock-knock. Who's there? I don't care. No, really, I DON'T CARE. But therein lies the problem -- you have to pretend that you do, in fact, care or else you will crush the spirit of the child challenging you with a knock-knock war (even though we aren't all that glad (s)he didn't say banana again). Knock-knock jokes are the worst kind of jokes, mainly because they're not funny like jokes, by definition, are. However, the smile on your kids' faces when you play along and then laugh like a maniac at the sheer hilarity of it all is worth the price of admission. If you can't muster up the energy to go along with ye ole knock-knock jokes in order to basically make a kid smile for life, don't have kids.
The painted clay handprints marking a season of life when your child's hand was small enough to grab one of your fingers. The cigar-box jewelry organizer covered in rhinestones that will sit in your closet until the day you die. The drawings from your daughter that always, ALWAYS, include an extremely phallic looking image, like the one where she was helping her brother hold up his "gun" while he shot the bad guy. You receive these gifts from your children that quickly become priceless (at least in your mind), and you store them away in Rubbermaid containers that you look through every few years while simultaneously giggling and tearing up over the memories. If you don't like the idea of receiving gifts like these, you probably don't want to be a parent.
The day your first child is born (and at every subsequent birth), your heart does the impossible. Much like Dr. Suess wrote about our green friend, "The Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day," I never knew my heart had such capacity to care until I became a mother. As moms, we love. We worry. We hurt. We hope. And our hearts are filled with the rawest, realest emotions we've ever known, and they grow bigger and bigger until we feel they might just burst. Everything is bigger, including the love and the worry and the hurt and the hope. We feel more deeply than we ever imagined. If you are concerned about your heart growing almost to the point of bursting (metaphorically-speaking, of course; if your heart actually grows the point of exploding, you have a serious medical condition, and you should hang up immediately and dial 911 or head to the nearest emergency room), DO NOT have children.
Do you see a common theme here? I hope so, but just in case you somehow missed it, here ya go: CHILDREN MAKE OUR LIVES BETTER! Even Jesus was drawn to them, probably because they were incapable of the hypocrisy and Pharisaical attitudes so many of the "good" adults displayed. Children enhance life. They remind us what matters, and raising them reveals the depth of our character (or the lack thereof).
I realize not everyone can or is meant to have children. Some women weep tonight over yet another failed attempt to conceive. Some women weep over their singleness, wondering if their dream of having a family is slipping away day by day. Other women weep over an adoption that fell through again, wondering if they'll ever fill their empty crib; some even mourn the loss of a child that was once living and breathing among us. All I can say is, God will never leave you or forsake you, and He never stops being GOD. And, contrary to how you might feel, He never stops being GOOD. He loves you and He a plan for you.
There are also those who wonder if they are meant to be mothers, the ones who wonder if they even have a maternal bone in their body. I can't claim to know the mind of God when it comes to what He wants for you. I can say, however, He will lead you if you'll let Him. Give your future and your plans and dreams to Him and watch what He does. Kids or no kids, you know it'll be good.
I can't wait to watch my kids grow up and become parents themselves. My daughter wants to be a mother and an artist and a teacher, and it's already apparent that she'll be a great mom because she takes over my job daily. My sons both say they never want get married, that they just want to live in a house with their friends and float all day in the pool while they play video games.