Are you becoming a mother soon?

If so, you’d better strap on your parachute and get ready for the ride of your life.

My mom friends and I have experienced it all: exhaustion, disappointment, struggle. On the flip side, there are just as many heart bursting and love crushing moments.

I turned 40 just days after giving birth to my first child, a beautiful son who is now almost 10 months old.

It took me nearly four decades to get ready for this experience, and here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Becoming a mother has been the greatest gift + the greatest challenge of my life.

Despite my maturity, motherhood made me feel suddenly inadequate. In these last months, I’ve been put through the ringer physically and emotionally. All the confidence and grace I worked years on building and crafting flew out the window. Adapting to this new role as “mom” has me feeling conflicted, because most days I feel like a fraud and everyday I feel like a hypocrite. I’ve realized that I will forever be dealing with this push and pull of emotions.

The many frustrating + tearful days balanced with the most loving moments full of joy + laughter: This is the dichotomy of motherhood.

Take, for example, the issue of sleep.

My baby wakes up at least two times a night and has decided that his day starts between the wee hours of 4:30 am and 5:30 am. When I do put him down for his naps, I do anything I can to get him to sleep, desperately rocking, shushing, singing, letting him cry it out, and finally giving him the boob. I’m trying to get him to rest so I can get a break from the demands of caring for him.

But yet, once I get him down to sleep and I close that door behind me, all I want to do is go back in to check on my son. I want to see his adorable smile, look into his innocent eyes, and it takes everything in me not to crawl into his crib. My baby has a magnetic pull on me, one I cannot ignore or resist. Watching your baby sleep is the most comforting and surreal feeling in the world.

Welcome to motherhood.

How can I love a little human so much, be completely head over heels with my son? But at the same time be completely bulldozed over by the demands of my mundane day to day? I go back to work soon and I’m dreading every minute of it because I can’t bare the thought of leaving him. But I find myself counting down the hours to “me” time so I can begin to rebuild my lost self. I step out of the house with messy unwashed hair, a puked stained t-shirt and dirty sneakers, but it’s ALL GOOD because I am focused on caring for my sweet baby. Yet, I have days when I wake up, disappointed and angry with myself for losing my mojo as I navigate through the weeds of this new existence.

Welcome to motherhood.

The days are long; they don’t seem to end because they seem to blend into one another. But the weeks and months are short. My baby is showing many signs of independence, which gets me really excited. When he started holding his own bottle, it was a game-changer. It bought me a few more minutes to do stuff around the house and these few minutes made the difference between a clean home or a quick shower and my sanity. In a blink of an eye, he now feeds himself by picking up little bits of food with his little hands. The more I relish in all his milestones, the more my heart aches, knowing that he is slowly weaning from my help.

Welcome to motherhood.

Figuring out what he needs is like pin the tail on the donkey. Do you want the red ball? (He’s screaming.) What about the squishy square? (More screaming.) Are you hungry? Need food or milk? (I’m making all these hand gestures and he is now having a full-scale fit.) In these moments, I start to resent him. But then my baby smiles, wraps his little arms around my neck, giggles and makes some utterly cute sound and I melt. All of a sudden I’m instantly the bad mom, full of guilt. (Insert deep breathes here, I’m sorry I thought you were a jerk.)

Welcome to motherhood.

Motherhood is a dichotomy of extremes. The lack of sleep and an exciting routine that consists of laundry, changing diapers and doing feeds gets extremely BORING and EXHAUSTING. But we all say the same thing, with our tired eyes, tussled hair, and unwashed faces: “It’s all WORTH it, so so worth it. The intense LOVE you feel is indescribable.” I’ve experienced the most intense joys and also have experienced some of my lowest lows since becoming a mom. The LOVE has overwhelmed me and the exhaustion has overtaken me.

Welcome to motherhood.

Motherhood is sometimes trusting your instincts. Sometimes it’s turning to Google if you need answers. You’ll question every little thing you do or don’t do and how can you do it better. On Monday you wake up and stay firm on a planned routine and by Tuesday you give in purely due to exhaustion and frustration. Gone is your shoes-and-handbags budget, but you tend to always find the money to spend on your child.

Welcome to motherhood.

The snuggles and struggles are real. There is only one of him and one of me, but most days I feel out numbered. Some days I feel like giving up completely. But, on all days and every day from here on after, I will love, cherish and protect my son with everything I got.