As the editor of a parenting publication, I hear a variation on the same phrase over and over again: “No one tells you about that before you become a parent.” People seem to feel this way about almost every aspect of new mother- and fatherhood. They say it about the often fraught process of conceiving a baby, the way your joints loosen when you’re pregnant, the agony of mid-labor pelvic exams, the way your body leaks so many different ways after you give birth. They say it about the exhausting rigors of breastfeeding or the complex decision to feed your baby another way. I know I said it myself about the relentlessness of infancy, the way it pushed me to my limits and never, ever gave me a day to catch my breath. I’ve even heard it said about the explosive joy of holding your baby and the vast depth of love you feel for a small person who reaches for you instinctively when they need the most profound kind of reassurance a person can get.
We’re all wrong of course — there are testimonials and advice columns, family stories and Instagram feeds and blog posts and listicles and essays and books that will tell us about every aspect of mothering and fathering. To be sure, there are underreported stories and neglected corners of the parenting experience, but I think what people really mean when they say “no one prepares you for this” is that the shock of it all, the bliss and the guilt, the fierce protectiveness and the terrifying ambivalence, the grief and the love, can’t be adequately described. It seems impossible that a variation on this experience has happened to every single mother and father before us and yet we somehow didn’t grasp it at all.
In our “New Parents Issue,” we won’t try to “tell you about it” in the covering-all-the-bases sense. We’ll share a few parenting stories (because it’s all we really want to talk about) and let you in on a few lessons we’ve learned; mostly we will celebrate with you when things are wonderful and commiserate with you when they are not. Welcome to new parenthood — you have no idea what you got yourself into.
- Elizabeth Angell, Editor-in-Chief
So often, when we talk about becoming a mother, the conversation turns to what women lose: A familiar sense of self. Professional opportunities. Personal space. Our “pre-baby” bodies. But while these are worthwhile, valid, and important discussions to foster, it’s not the whole story. Motherhood has the ability to change not just our lives but our perspectives. What feels lost in that heady, overwhelming business matters — but what we find can be unexpected, freeing, and incredibly rewarding.
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