by Hampton Williams Hofer
You will gaze at your newborn baby—who looks nothing like the “newborns” on TV, because those are several-month-old babies and real newborns are blue-grey, squished, grizzled little soldiers (because getting here was a battle, after all)—and despite all the slicked hair and goo, you’ll declare with certainty that the Gerber baby has nothing on this one.
You will Google unimaginable things at unimaginable hours: Could Mufasa have lived? Toddler ate a green beetle. Why is Goodnight Moon so creepy? And (on that fourth snow day), Nearest McDonald’s with a playground…
You will both praise and curse the creators of LEGO bricks, perhaps in the same breath.
You will spell out words when talking to your spouse, as a way of speaking in code, and in doing so, you will learn that you do not, in fact, know how to spell “popsicle.” After several tries, you’ll just say the word out loud. Your children will ask for one immediately.
You will, during playtime, put a bucket on your head and revel in the laughter that follows. The bucket may get stuck. You may not even mind, because inside that bucket it is dark and it is quiet.
You will work, work, work like Rihanna for bedtime, and then once you are alone, you will stare at the monitor and wonder if their favorite color is still purplish black, or if they want to finish telling you that story they started about a dragon named Potty Lollipop, a story you’re fairly certain has no end.
You will lose your phone. Constantly. And you will find it in places such as: the freezer, the neighbor’s driveway and your own hand.
You will eat a regurgitated chicken nugget. You may not realize that it has already been chewed, or you may, and either way, you’ll eat it, because you are hungry.
You will realize, at some moment while out in public, that there are no more diapers in your bag, and you will fashion one out of those brown paper towels in the Starbucks bathroom, or out of your own shirt.
You will promise your children outrageous things—ice cream sundaes, delayed bedtimes, a pony—if only you can get out of Target alive. If only they will stop licking the floor. If only they will hold your hand instead of making a kamikaze dash through the parking lot.
You will neglect that documentary you’ve been wanting to watch once the children are asleep, and instead you will pour a glass of wine and finish the cartoon they started earlier, because you truly want to know how the trolls get back to the tree.
You will start having to subtract your birth year from the current year in order to figure out how old you are.
You will learn that there is no backyard toy better than a hose and no morning better than when you realize it is Pajama Day at school.
You will impress yourself with your ability to make up continually more verses to The Wheels on the Bus, after you realize all the other songs you know the words to have explicit lyrics. You will do the same with Old McDonald, because on his farm there damn well may have been a velociraptor.
You will be surprised, even though you knew it was coming, by the ferocity with which you love them, by the way they take up residence in your mind, coming before every breath, every step, always first, always out in front as you move through this life right behind them, nudging and cheering and praying for the world to be kind, because you know it isn’t always, but because you unequivocally believe that they will better it, the same way they’ve bettered you.
Hampton Williams Hofer writes, raises babies and lives in Raleigh. This will be her first Mother’s Day as a mom of three boys.