If someone asked me today whether family life as a wife and mother is what I thought it would be, my answer would be no. It’s not what I thought it would be; it’s so much more. It’s so much more joyful and incredible than I could have fathomed; it is also much more challenging and, at times, difficult, that I imagined.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
Expect to be loved, deeply, truly… just the way you are. Your husband’s love will be very different from your children’s love, but both will be total, and both will fill your heart. You will soon realize how much you mean to your family. Even if your voice is plain, no one can beat mom’s singing. Even if your baked goods end up a little flat or hard, mom’s cakes and cookies are always best. Your family isn’t looking for perfection; they are looking for you.
Expect to spend a lot of time on your feet – especially during the first few years. I don’t think I sit down for longer than 5 or 10 minutes at a time while the kids are up. Whether it’s changing a diaper, getting someone food, cleaning up a mess or playing on the living room floor, you’ll almost always be doing something.
Expect to learn a lot. Welcome to the school of parenting. Yes, you’re the teacher, but it’s more about learning than teaching. It’s about learning how to be patient, learning how to “get through” to each child, learning how to run a household, learning how to identify and respond to the needs of each one, learning how to effectively pass on values, beliefs and traditions, learning how to educate young minds and hearts…
Expect to laugh a lot. Believe me. Your spouse and children will come up with things funnier than the funniest character on your favorite sitcom. Even when they aren’t saying anything funny, you will be laughing out of joy as you see your kids grow and develop, and enjoy special moments with your spouse. This is fun, but also important and necessary. Laughter relieves stress, and you will need to relieve the stress that builds up from worrying about finances or your husband’s career, or wondering how many more weeks you have before your baby’s colic stops or how long your active child will go before needing stitches.
Expect to be tired. ALL THE TIME. You’ll wake up early and go to bed late, and won’t get much rest in between. Even if you are a very sound sleeper, you’ll start waking up at the slightest sound – it’s a mother’s instinct, and helps you make sure you’re children are fine even during the night. You won’t mind as much as you think. There will be tough days, but
Expect to be challenged. You will be stretched. You will sometimes feel like you are being asked more than you can give, whether it’s getting up another time at night, walking into another mess when you already feel like you’ve had it that day, or finding out how best to resolve a difference between you and your spouse. Give it the very best you have, and trust that God, your spouse and your kids will make up the difference. They always do!
Expect to apologize. No matter how hard you try, you will make mistakes, sometimes big time. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a good wife or mother. It just means you aren’t perfect. Remember what we said before: your family isn’t looking for you to be perfect; they are just looking for you. Mistakes on everyone’s part can’t be helped, and that’s fine as long as you use your mistakes to grow closer as a family instead of letting them tear you apart. Acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them and move on. Forgive the mistakes of others.
Expect to hit “repeat”. Over and over and over again. You will keep saying the same things over and over again. Kids never catch it the first time round… or the tenth time. It’s usually the fiftieth time that they catch on and make it a habit. You will keep rewashing the same dishes, folding the same shirts and sweeping the same floor, over and over… Boring? Perhaps, but necessary. The world keeps going because mothers are willing to repeat themselves.
Expect support from your spouse. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and turn to your spouse for ideas, practical support, or just an extra hug. That’s part of what the marriage is about. Be ready to support your husband when he has rough days or just needs an extra hand too.
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
Don’t expect to be appreciated all the time. It won’t happen. There will be plenty of times when hard work on your part goes seemingly unnoticed. Don’t take it personally. It just means your husband or kids were tired, distracted or oblivious and didn’t even notice it. If you really feel offended or forgotten, talk about it. Usually the result will be that you realize your family wasn’t slighting you. Remember that there are also many things your spouse does for you that you don’t notice either.
Don’t expect to finish your to do list… EVER. Keep making it, but don’t feel depressed when things are added faster than they are crossed off. That’s a mommy’s life. Set your priorities, and stick to them. If everyone makes it to bed clean, full and happy and the house is in one piece, you’re succeeding. Be happy when you get more than the essentials done, but don’t expect it.
Don’t expect to create “Pinterest worthy” projects. I’m not saying not to try; I’m just saying not to expect it. If a project turns out picture perfect, be pleased, but when it doesn’t, don’t feel like it reflects lack of talent or ability on your part. It doesn’t; it reflects the number of children clinging to your leg and demanding more than three-fourths of your attention all the time. It reflects the number of times you interrupted the project to do something more important. It reflects how good of a mom you really are. When your project does turn out well, be happy, and be grateful for having a family that supports you in your interests and did without you for the amount of time you dedicated to the project. Either way, it’s a winner.
Don’t expect your kids to listen to you. TEACH them to listen to you and uphold the standard consistently… But don’t expect them to from day one. It will take a few years for them to learn to listen to you, and even then, it won’t be all the time, so teach them the important things when they are listening, be patient when they aren’t, and be consistent in teaching them that they should…
Don’t expect your kids to be the best at everything. That’s impossible. No matter how bright, beautiful and brilliant they are, they can’t be everything at the same time. This might sound obvious, and many mothers probably “know” this, but the reality is, even if you know it, you are still tempted to want them to be the best… maybe not in everything, but just in this thing, and the other and the other and the other, which, all together, makes everything. Make sure you don’t place unnecessary expectations on your children. Teach them the important things, but aside from that, don’t try to turn them into someone. Watch who they become. Enjoy it and support them. Be proud when they are the best, average, and worst, as long as they are doing their best.
Don’t expect your husband to pay attention to you all the time. This is another “obvious” one that can be hard to live out. It’s easy for a woman to get jealous of the things her husband does, how he spends his time. We do have a claim on our husband’s attention, but we need to remember that the amount of attention we like from our husbands and the amount of attention we need from our husbands are not always the same. Talk to your husband and decide how much time the two of you can realistically spend together. Enjoy, treasure and look forward to those moments. Try to find extra time together when you need it. But also make sure you are supporting your husband in his other interests, even in moments when you are bored and would prefer him to be talking with you or doing something else…
Don’t expect a picture-perfect house. You know those perfectly clean, decorated rooms you see on blogs, magazines, Facebook, and other mommy-sites? Don’t be fooled – it doesn’t really happen like that. They have toys all over the place, crumbs on the floor and sippy cups on the counter too. They just don’t showcase that side. There’s nothing wrong with looking at the “perfect” photos and getting ideas (I love doing this too), as long as you don’t really expect your home to look like that. They’ve caught their home in a perfect moment. Don’t compare the worst of your home with the best of their home – it’s not fair to yourself. Be happy with your home’s messy moments as much as you are with the showcase moments – it means your home is lived in and full of love!
Both of these lists could be continued ad infinitum, but I’ll leave them for each of you to continue on forever, but I’ll leave them as is for you to add to and adjust as needed based on your own experience as you go along! In the end, remember that being a wife and mother is the best thing that could ever happen to you!