Motherhood does not come with sick days.

Back in my crazy career days (working nonstop) taking a sick day was next to impossible. There have only been a few times I’ve needed to call off – thank God for those legislated sick days! But on those much needed days, I slept off whatever illness hit me and was able to take a break from reality to recoup.

But there’s one thing your doctor forgets to tell you about having a baby – motherhood does not come with sick days.

Maybe that’s why the first trimester of pregnancy is full of exhaustion? Nature knows you are going to need every second of sleep to accommodate for a life of no more sick days?

Wouldn’t it be nice for once just to say “I can’t make it to motherhood today. I’m just really sick. Please figure it out.”

For the past couple weeks I genuinely wanted to call in sick to motherhood.  And why is it when our significant other is under the weather they seemingly get to take a sick day? My only guess – the mommy gene: the inability to ever get sleep or fully relax again due to having children.

No matter how high your fever is or how many times you’ve visited your porcelain friend, the kids are still going to expect dinner and their favorite bedtime story. “Mommy, I want bites I’m hungry!” “Mommy, I want books!”. Sweet children don’t understand that standing up to get them a snack will literally take every ounce of energy out of your body and just might kill you.

But we do it.

Even when we feel like getting our kids out of bed is going to do us in, we still do it. Even when we can’t feed ourselves, we make sure the kids get more than enough. Because that’s what us moms do – CEO’s of the family never get sick days! It’s a full time job and then some to keep the house running smoothly.

It’s hard enough to take a sick day when working a full time career, but when you’re a mom, kids allow ZERO sick days (especially if they’re really little).  At least the office gives us a set number of sick days (even though we aren’t always allowed to take them). Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom we all have one thing in common – motherhood does not come with sick days.

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“Unideal” Congratulations

When we find out we’re expecting baby, how do we expect people to react? My husband and I had been married a year and half (previously dated 4 years before with a year long engagement) so total we knew each other five and a half years before we got pregnant with our first baby.  We were very lucky that everyone in our family (to our knowledge) was thrilled.  Even though it was confirmation that my husband and I had indeed had sex, our parents were ecstatic about becoming grandparents. “Congratulations you guys!” We were lucky.

But what about those couples, or mothers, who don’t experience the “Congratulations”?

Every circumstance is different; the teenage mother, the unmarried mother, the “not sure who the baby’s dad is” mother, etc..  How is society supposed to react to these “unideal” parenting situations?

My family has been in an “unideal” situation.  I come from a very conservative, and extremely traditional family – you graduate high school, get a college degree, get married, and then maybe have kids. How was I supposed to react? “Congratulations” sure didn’t seem like an appropriate term of endearment in the circumstance.

In reality, I somehow felt I was encouraging the situation by giving a literal “Congratulations”  and in some way making them feel their “unideal” pregnancy was acceptable.  What a horrible thought right? Of course there were other extenuating circumstances that prevented me from being able to verbalize “Congratulations” and the ever present family dynamics.  But what is the appropriate way to react?

During a recent trip to Wal-Mart I was scoping out the baby section and noticed a very young couple browsing baby clothes – I swear the girl couldn’t have been older than 15.  I wondered to myself, “why on earth are high schoolers looking in the baby section?” Then my answer.  Another couple from their school greeted them and asked them why they were looking at baby clothes. The young giddy girl answered … “Oh we just found out we are pregnant and we couldn’t help but look at stuff.  We are so excited!” The other couple seemed shocked and asked when she was due. “We just found out so we’re only about 8 weeks along.” The couple answered “Geez Congratulations.”
I wanted to run over and say … “Don’t buy anything! Save your money! Kids are expensive! You need to go to college! AHHHH!” I kept thinking, this girl has her whole life ahead of her and this is the decision she is making.  

Again, what a horrible thought right?  

I suddenly felt this rush of guilt. Who am I to judge what someone else?

I don’t think anyone is ever truly ready for kids; so sometimes the perfect arrangement can be unideal.  Every situation, every person, every pregnancy is different – so maybe our reactions should reflect this. Does a woman who decides to have a baby out of wedlock warrant the same “Congratulations” as an expecting married couple?  All I know is that my mom has always said, “treat others as you want to be treated”.  So no matter how hard it is to conjure up an unideal “Congratulations”, the right thing to do is show your feelings through a card, a gift, or a smile.  Sometimes your reactions and actions are the ones that are most remembered. And let’s face it, no one has ever lost sleep over being too nice.

What will my parents think?!

Remember that moment when you first found out you were expecting? For most women its a mixture of fear, excitement, and “holy crap!”.  Even as a married woman “trying to conceive”, I was still a bit horrified when my husband and I saw the plus sign on our home pregnancy test and even more appalled when my doctor confirmed the news in person, “Congratulations!”

How are we supposed to feel when we find out we are expecting a baby? Excited? Disappointed? Scared? I guess each situation requires an individual set of emotions.  Both of our pregnancies I was absolutely terrified – the second time more so because I knew what to expect.

Then there’s that moment you have to tell others: – like your parents.

Telling my parents my husband and I were expecting our first baby was literally the most embarrassing moment of my life.  When you tell your parents and family you are pregnant, it is vindication and proof that “their little girl” had sex. I’m sure my parents (like most) wanted to assume my husband and I only kissed until we got married and even after marriage, sex was obviously still out of the question – “Our Kim would never do that!” All of a sudden BOOM your parents look at you a little differently – my dad was shocked! He jumped up out of his chair and asked my husband if he had been having sex with “his daughter”. I joked, “Yes, Dad. Only once though! He talked me into it!”. My mother of course, was blissfully ecstatic.  We were lucky and both of our families were beyond thrilled which made me feel more at ease.

Isn’t that how it is supposed to be? Pure excitement and joy? Just like the pamphlets and movies make becoming pregnant seem? Maybe the pamphlets should have pictures of terrified mothers with hormonal acne trying to find something to wear to work while nine months pregnant.

Society in a way has made women in our generation feel uncomfortable with being a mother.  Our mothers and grandmothers came from the Women’s Rights Movement; passing Title IX and burning bras. They forged the way for modern moms.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of these brave women who proved females are capable of more than just having babies and getting dinner on the table – it took men long enough to realize it!  But as with all great movements there are unintended consequences.

Society now expects Mothers to birth and raise babies along with a new laundry list of other things:

  • “Why yes, I have a Bachelor’s degree …” (Have an education)
  • “Full time career, yes please!” (Working mom)
  • Sure babe, let’s have sex every night! And then I’ll rub your feet!”  (“Perfect” wife)
  • “OMG your house is so clean!” (Pristine house)
  • “I’m sure there’s a Pinterest craft for that!” (Capture every milestone)
  • “Sure, your mom can verbally punch me in goodies whenever!” (“Perfect” daughter-in-law)
  • “Now I organized your clothes by color, size, and season …” (Organization expert)
  • “Of course I washed the shirt you never put in the dirty clothes!” (Human laundry machine)
  • “Yes I sent the bills in a month early just because I am so not busy!” (Family business office manager)
  • “Where did I get this hot body? Just by breathing!” (Hot body lady 2 weeks after giving birth)
  • “No, I do not need any makeup or anything for myself! Not even food …” (Selfless mother)

AND BY THE WAY … this includes being Martha Stewart’s clone and having a healthy, homemade dinner on the table!!

When you tell your parents you are expecting, if not initially, they (hopefully) eventually will be over the moon, but remember, you have so much more on your plate (pun intended) than mothers of any other generation.

My mom used to say “You’re not the first woman to have a baby!” Well guess what … we are the first women to have babies in this technological, pessimistic world that expects us to have our lives pulled together 24/7. Its OKAY TO NOT BE PERFECT ALL THE TIME; our moms weren’t Betty Crocker every night and we can’t be either.  And there’s a pretty good chance, I won’t look like Heidi Klum after giving birth – ever. While we will make immense sacrifices for our children just like mothers before us – we are the innovators of doing it all and then some – being a Mogul Mom.