Dear Pregnant Caitlin,
Congratulations. This is it. The moment you’ve been dreaming of for years is finally here. After months of negative tests, happy pregnancy announcements from current and former friends, and one consolation tattoo, it’s your turn. You saw those two lines and couldn’t believe it. From here on out, your brain will go a million miles a minute in a million different directions for the next 30-some-odd weeks. Vaya con Dios.
I’m sure that in that nonstop brain of yours you have grand plans and vivid pictures of what kind of mom you’ll be. You have clear ideas and strong opinions on everything else in your life… why would raising a child be any different? Well, Caitlin, I hate to tell you this, but somewhere around month 8-ish, your adorable, easy going, calm little boy is going to become a stubborn, strong-willed, monkey toddler. And he’ll never look back. Maternity leave? It will be amazing, and your heavenly angel will sleep most of the day and be content to just lounge with you and look at you adoringly. At months 6 and 7, when he is just sitting he will be easy enough to contain and entertain with a few well-chosen toys. Then, Caitlin, I have some news…
Kiss the calm goodbye, and learn to embrace the chaos.
As soon as your precious infant begins to crawl and gets a taste of sweet, sweet baby freedom, he will never stop moving again. Ever. Not even while he sleeps. Oh, and about sleep. As an infant, other moms will be jealous of the sleep. Through the night at 8 weeks! You will be able to put him in his crib while he is still smiling a drooly, bubbly smile, and within minutes, it will be lights out. But all of a sudden, he will turn 1. And sleep won’t come so easy for your cherub anymore. The crib is a prison! He needs OUT and FAST. And he will figure out how to get out. The climbing. Remember when I used the word monkey earlier? It wasn’t just for comedic effect.
Your tiny tornado will scramble up things most kids his age are afraid of. If there is a flat surface and a ledge, he is on his way up. And man, if that little boy isn’t so proud of himself when he makes it to the top. His smirk at his accomplishment will simultaneously warm your heart and anger you. Get used to that smirk. And the pride. He thinks he’s hilarious. And most other people do, too. Which just is going to make your job harder.
Sorry, I’m not quite done.
Also, just a fun FYI, your kid is loud. And talks a lot. To everyone. I mean, he is your son, after all. I figured I’d throw that in just in case you had grand ideas of him flying under the radar in restaurants and stores. And at soccer. And swimming. Or anywhere he accompanies you in public. People you didn’t notice in the grocery store will comment on his singing or storytelling in the checkout line. People across the room will chuckle at his questions and comments. Be careful what you say in front of him. The boy has one volume and no filter. He will notice your tendency toward profanity and will quickly learn to use those same words at an expert level.
Don’t worry too much about that, though. After a little while he will turn into the profanity police. And he will remind you every single time he hears you drop a well-placed swear that, “Mama, you can’t say those words. Those aren’t nice words.” You will be both proud and ashamed.
Have I mentioned how stubborn he is? Look, I’m not trying to overwhelm you, but this is important stuff. I mean, you really should have known this would come. He is just next in a long line of people with strong opinions who like to make them heard. You decided to name your son after your father, after all — the king of opinions and stubbornness. You brought this on yourself. I don’t want to exaggerate anything, so I’ll keep it short and sweet here. Your beautiful boy will have big ideas. And he won’t like hearing that he can’t follow through on them. Tears and yelling will ensue. And I don’t just mean his. Be prepared for bargaining. And bribing. And compromise.
I’m not trying to scare you.
A little preparation goes a long way. A wise in-law told me on several occasions that you should prepare for the worst and hope for the best, because what actually happens will fall somewhere in between. Most of being a mom falls somewhere in between. There will be moments where things seem like they can’t be any worse. But, and I say this with every ounce of honesty I have and mean it 1,000%, there will be moments that are better than you ever hoped for.
That little boy will try your patience and test your limits. But he will also think the sun rises and sets on you, Mama. He will not be able to tell you enough how much he loves you. He will not be able to sit close enough to you.