11 Steps to Feeling Like Motherhood is a Normal Part of Life

There's this hilarious little note being passed around the ol' fb, called The Eleven Step Programme for Those Thinking of Having Kids. It includes such gems as,
Lesson 5: Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. 
Time allowed for this - all morning.
Lesson 7: Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

The (unknown) author reminds us that this is all meant in fun, completely tongue in cheek, of course having kids is worth it, etc. She reminds us that we need to have a sense of humour, and it's true. I laughed when I read it. It's funny.

But it's also a glimpse into a part of our society, which, really, I just hate. I hate that when you're pregnant all anyone call tell you is how TOUGH it is to be a mama and just how much giving birth is going to HURT (grapefruit through the nostril -- ever heard that? Every day for nine months?). Yes, being a mama can be challenging. Yes, it's going to completely turn your life upside down, show you just what you (and your marriage/partnership/fuck buddy) is made of, age you at least five years, and move your life into a milk-soaked realm from which it will never, ever return.

But here's the rub: you won't want it to.

OK, maybe sometimes you'll wish for a few extra nights of non-stopwatch-timed snuggling with your partner, and there are projects and fitness goals you fear you might never get back to, but birth and motherhood are some of the peak experiences of life (notice how I didn't say 'pregnancy'?). And all around the world people don't dread (and alternately ossify with unfair expectations) motherhood like we do in the industrialized West. In some places, motherhood is a normal part of life. Even if you're an unwed teenage girl or -- worse! -- haven't finished your master's degree or saved your first 100K. It's a thing to celebrate.

So here's my
11 Step Programme for Those Thinking They Probably Shouldn't Have Had Unprotected Sex Because Now They're Going to Have Kids And it's Going to Suck.

Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Stock up on all the foods you loved as a kid.
3. Go home.
4. Throw them all away because you're too health-conscious to indulge.
5. Go to bed skinny (but hungry).
For the last time, ever.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and ask them about their...
1. Child's first smile.
2. Child's first word.
3. Child's first two-word phrase.
4. Child's first steps.
5. Discuss the last night you had on the town, how you and your partner got drunk, he spilled a drink on your new dress which seemed like a big deal and so you had a big embarrassing fight. Listen as the crickets chirp.

Enjoy it because it will be the first time of many that you get to bond with other people over parenthood.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Spend a week away from your dog/cat/twitter. Then come home to its warmest welcome. Play.
2. At 10PM, put the animal/computer gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and massage your nipples for an hour.
4. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and look up at the beautiful full moon/snow falling/other night-time scene you haven't seen for years.
5. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
6. Sleep snuggled up with your pet/partner/computer in a big doggy-pile until 6 AM.
7. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (which is suddenly meaningful).

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Take advantage of the fact that everyone expects you to look exhausted because you're doing the most important job there is. Sleep when the computer sleeps.

Lesson 4

Can you embrace the new person your children will make you? To find out...
1. Get drunk and sing "The Ants Go Marching" in your best Donald Duck voice. Repeat.
2. Stay home with your partner and enjoy watching each other perform 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' and 'Patty Cake'. Sexy.
3. Make peanut-butter cookies. With fork marks.
4. Practice leaving the house without your hair/makeup done, wearing yoga pants and flat, practical shoes. You are now ready to take over the world.
5. Effortlessly decline any social invitation because you can't get a babysitter.
6. Get rid of all the ugly knick-knacks you've received over the years. You wouldn't want the baby to choke.

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is fun.
1. Buy two of everything you love. One in your size, one in adorable.
2. Happily accept the endless hand-me-down or gifted onesies, booties, and hats that come through your door on a daily basis.
3. Sing songs about them, especially in other languages. "PANT-a-lon-es, pant-a-lon-es, pant-a-lon-es, pant-a-LON-es!"

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6

Forget the BMW stroller and buy a baby-carrier.

1. Wear it around the house because you're "trying it out". 
Leave it on when you go out.
2. Notice all the pure joy your (invisible) baby elicits (before people notice it's not there invisible).
3. Smile at all the other new parents you see. Watch how they smile back.
4. Get onto the bus and watch people fall over themselves to offer you their seat.

Lesson 7

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A friend's pre-school child is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one child. Buy your week's groceries while also letting them thrill-ride the outside of the grocery cart down the canned goods aisle. Poke all the mushy cheeses. Impress them by picking an apple from the bottom of the display pyramid. Introduce them to Ben and Jerry's. Dance in the mist of the produce water-sprayer. Hand them your credit card and let them "pay" for the groceries. If you haven't done all of this for at least ten years, you are definitely ready to have children.

Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Stick a bunch of toothpicks all over it.
5. Stick various fruit chunks onto the toothpicks.
6. Edible ch-ch-ch-chia!

You are now ready to entertain a 12- month-old baby.

Lesson 9

Make a list of all your favourite childhood TV shows. Find them on YouTube and watch one per day, while lounging on the floor and eating chocolate chip cookies. Take a nap. Climb a tree. You don't know where to find the nearest climbable tree? My point exactly.

Lesson 10

Watch Baby Ethan Laughing repeatedly. Play this video everywhere you are (every doctor's office, every lineup) for the next four years. You are now ready to do life with a toddler.

Lesson 11

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually on your mind while also picturing Baby Ethan Laughing from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to commit to having your "heart go walking forever outside your body."

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