When I was pregnant with my first child, I just knew.
I knew I was meant to be a stay-at-home mom.
I knew I was going to be thoroughly content in my role as a mother.
I knew I was going to breastfeed for a full year.
I knew I was going to be the hands-on crafty mom.
I knew I was never going to use a drop-in daycare center.
I knew I was going to have three kids, three years apart.
I knew I was going to unfailingly be a good example for my kids.
I knew I was going to ensure that my kids always listened to me.
I knew I was going to do everything right.
But motherhood has a way of unraveling everything you know and revealing hard truths you couldn’t have understood before.
Because what I didn’t know was how stay-at-home motherhood would never quite feel fulfilling.
I didn’t know how lonely and frustrating it could be.
I didn’t know how suffocating breastfeeding would sometimes feel when for a time, my existence seemed to revolve solely around feeding my baby.
I didn’t know how little patience I’d actually have for those hands-on activities like crafts and the messiness that goes along with them.
I didn’t know how much help I would need and that sometimes a break from my child—yes, by means of drop-in-daycare—would be the best thing for everyone.
I didn’t know that my plans for how many children I would have and the spacing between them would be foiled by pregnancy loss.
I didn’t know how lack of sleep and frustration and grief and mental overload would so often prompt behavior that was exactly the opposite of the example I wanted to set for my kids.
I didn’t know how little control I’d actually have.
And I didn’t know how hard motherhood would be or how often I’d get it exactly wrong.
But there are so many other things I didn’t know that surprised me in the best of ways upon discovering them.
Like how my baby’s smile would seem like the most magical thing in the world.
Or how hearing the laughter of a toddler would release a hit of dopamine I never knew I needed.
Or how dandelions and scribbles would feel like the best gifts in the entire world.
Or how hearing my kids utter the name “Jesus” and unabashedly lift up their kid-sized prayers to him would overwhelm my soul in the best way.
Or how the sound of little voices singing would make the most beautiful music.
Or how watching my kids sleep would cause actual tears of deep gratitude to surface in the corners of my eyes.
Or how watching them grow would produce a continuous cycle of awe and wonder.
Or how loss would somehow make space for love to grow in places I never knew possible.
When I became a mom, much to my surprise, I realized how very little I knew. And despite my years of experience, I still can’t claim to know all that much, nor will I ever reach expert status.
But what I do know is that the memories of everything good and the moments that gush joy to the point of overflow, even when they last but a second, make the hard and heartache, mayhem and mistakes every bit worth it.