Maybe I ignored anything that sounded remotely negative in the months before I gave birth to my one and only.
Or maybe my well meaning circle of female relatives and friends just didn’t want to freak me out too much. Whatever it was, when I became a first time mom, reality sank in quickly.
Don’t get me wrong, becoming a mom was an absolute blessing! But there are some new mom #truths I learned along the way that shocked me. I’m sharing them with you hoping they will help to shed some light on some of the more surprising experiences new motherhood can toss your way.
Truth #1 – You will cry. Like, A LOT!
Think about it, your body just went through the most significant physical transformation a human being can endure. Your belly expanded over a short, 9 month period (give or take) in order to accommodate another HUMAN BEING!
You ate for two. Some of you worked through most, if not all of those months. Some of you received concerning news along the way. Some of you were so excited you couldn’t sleep through those nights, not realizing that soon, sleepless nights will become the new norm. At some point I’m pretty sure you all received unsolicited advice from an obnoxious stranger, or your aunt Bertha. You found the mental and physical strength to push through it all and then you pushed a human out of your lady bits or had one yanked out of your stomach.
So if the sight of a diaper commercial gets your waterworks flowing, go ahead and ugly cry like Kim (No offence girl, I watch you every Sunday on E). I say you earned it! And if your next door neighbour’s twice removed aunt from Wichita has a problem with it, I got your back! give her my email, I’ll straighten her out.
Seriously though, don’t let anyone make you feel like releasing your emotions, expressing them, working through it or just being in the moment is anything but normal. And if it doesn’t feel normal to you, go ahead and see your doctor. They’re the only ones qualified enough to advise you on the next steps.
Truth #2 – Sick days are about to get real
Remember that time you called in sick, circa 20PK (pre kids) and instead of hiding under a blanket in your apartment, you found the strength to spend a lovely afternoon at the spa? Your secret’s safe with me, but the jig’s up. Kids bring a whole new meaning to sick days, and spas, but that’s a whole other post.
Under new Ontario labour laws that kicked in January 2018, an employer is only obligated to offer two fully paid sick days, and up to 8 additional unpaid ones. Some companies might offer more or unlimited sick days, but let’s assume for a moment that most offer what they are legally obligated to.
In the meantime, your toddler is about to come down with a case of hand, foot, and mouth disease, for the third time this year. Now you’re digging into your vacation days and by the end of the year you have enough time left to call a night in Niagara Falls your annual family trip.
It sucks really but unless you have a village literally raising your child, it’s you, and maybe a partner. I was lucky because I had employers that allowed for flex time which meant I could work from home and change up my hours. But that’s not the norm.
Truth #3 – You too will get sick
Did I mention hand, foot, and mouth disease is highly contagious. Enough said!
Truth #4 – Life will sometimes feel like a never ending marathon
‘Closing time’ used to be that catchy tune by Semisonic that you’d hum to yourself. But if you plan to enrol your child in daycare, be prepared for closing time to mean something completely different.
Most daycares close at 6 p.m. sharp. 6 p.m. means 6 p.m. and not a minute later. Literally! In fact, there are policies at many daycares that clearly state if you pick up your child past closing time, you will be charged by the minute. Of course, one can appreciate the reason for such strict rules, but if you’re a working parent, rushing to catch the subway, or stuck in traffic due to unforeseen circumstances, these policies can seem harsh.
Truth #5 – Have you checked your bank account lately?
As if the sleepless nights, illnesses named after body parts and harsh rules by your childcare provider weren’t enough, here’s one final sobering truth. Your standard parental benefits cover you for a little more than half of your average weekly insurable earnings (55%). But there’s a cap on that weekly earnings amount. According to the Government of Canada website, you can only earn up to $51,700 if you apply for standard parental leave. That’s $547 a week.
If you choose the extended parental benefits option, which gives you more time with your little one, the weekly earnings dip down substantially to 33% or $328 per week.
For all the harsh realities of becoming a parent, here’s the silver lining: There is no one else in the world who will make you cry more tears of pride and joy. There is no one else you would rather comfort and cuddle when they are down with a highly contagious disease. No one else who will make you find the strength to sprint across town so you make it in time for daycare pick up following an exhausting work day. And most likely, you will never spend more time, energy and money on another person as you will on your own child.