Two pink lines were clear as day. The heartbeat on the ultrasound was loud and strong. I bought all the books, read every article, took the vitamins, drank my water, gathered all the baby gadgets and thought I had it all figured out.
I was ready.
The first years were measured in middle of the night feedings, diapers changed, babies rocked and so many pacifiers lost. This was way before the cute Wubbanubs came out, and all we had were those big green ones they gave you at the hospital. If you dropped that thing, it was gone like socks in the dryer! With all those fancy gadgets guaranteed to soothe the baby (most of them never used), I found myself bulk ordering pacifiers by the dozens.
Those late nights trying to figure out how to get my tiny babies back to sleep, even when I was more exhausted than I ever thought was possible, were the greatest lessons in patience and perseverance. Nothing prepared me for the countless hours speaking our own language through tired eyes.
Before I knew it, my rocker was traded in for a folding chair on the sidelines at early Saturday morning soccer games. I couldn't find the chapter in any of my books that tell you how to get a grouchy 5-year-old fully geared up and at the field in good spirits by 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday while also getting yourself caffeinated and in a somewhat presentable state. Oh, it's your day to bring snacks, too!
Then I blinked and they were sitting across from me at the dinner table. No bottles. No bibs. No booster seats. No dropped sippy cups. Nothing needed to be cut up. It was just a dinner with whole conversations as we laughed like old friends. I wasn't prepared to look at their little faces and see a person, not a baby. Surely the books tell you how to do this part, right?
Motherhood has a funny way of softening and strengthening you along the way.
There is no substitute for experience.
The late nights. The early Saturday mornings. The loud dinners. The quiet nights after bedtime. The slammed doors and heavy-footed stomps. The days that turn into years. It's all part of the wild ride of motherhood.
No book will prepare you for the first time your child looks you right in the eye and says "I love you" or how deeply it cuts to hear them say "I hate you" even when they don't mean it. It's going to really hurt, but your love for them will never falter.
There's no way to explain the feeling when they reach for your hand on the first day of preschool as you walk them inside. Then there's the bittersweet pride of watching them walk alone into the first day of fourth grade, because they can't risk being seen with mom.
Those chapters telling you exactly how to maintain your composure when it's time to have "the talk" will go blurry when your answers have to be as strong as your courage.
Even on those exhausted, overwhelmed, disappointed-in-yourself days, you have them and they have you. Some will feel like the longest, most difficult challenges, but life will calm down before too long.