One of my least favorite catches to being pregnant as a first time mother is the incessant advice you have to bear. Going in, I thought I had a pretty tough skin. I have gone through two decades of riding horses, a world where everyone has an opinion and many people are not shy about pushing theirs onto you. But when it comes to motherhood advice, I find I cannot get away from it. It’s not just relatives and friends, it’s acquaintences and complete strangers. It’s not like this is a surprise, but expecting to be thwarted with unwanted lessons of parenthood doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Now that I am in month numero 7, I can tell you that these days I feel murderous rage when someone tries to tell me “whats up” about pregnancy and parenthood.
“Your whole life is going to change!”
I understand that caring for my 7 highly dependent fur and feather creatures, never having a day off, never getting a thank you, is not quite the same as a human child. But do I think being a stay at home farm wife who is very used to catering to needy dependents is going to make this transition not so crazy for me personally? Yes, yes I do. While I think most new mothers get caught by surprise due to a dramatic shift in their lifestyle, I forsee a lot staying the same for me.
“Well once you have a newborn, you won’t/will want/do/feel …”
I am not you. I am actually a pretty strange person, so I think only I will know what I want and how I will feel when I want it and when I feel it. I can honestly tell you I don’t know if I will want you to visit me in the hospital, or when you can come meet baby, I already want to kill you with my eye daggers in this very moment. No I don’t think I have to join Mommy and Me groups, I have friends thanks (who have young children), the thought of becoming friends with someone just because they also pushed a human out of their vagina kind of makes me nauseous.
“You can’t have spicy food! You’ll go into labor!”
… As I am downing salsa and about to eat my third jalapeno popper at a Christmas party with a *gasp* caffeinated Coke in my hand! Sorry, baby hungry. I adore spicy food. Don’t like you very much right now, however.
“You’ll never sleep through the night again.”
I thought this would really get to me – prior to pregnancy I could sleep a solid 10-12 hours. But I haven’t slept through the night since I was four weeks pregnant, and am now on a pretty consistent schedule of wake up at 2am, maybe go back to sleep at 7am for another hour, then walk through the rest of the day like a zombie. Still alive.
And my personal favorite that I got recently… from someone who has never ridden a horse, mind you…
“Oh, you won’t be riding for MONTHS after that baby comes. *Boing oing oing* that just is not going to work!”
It took every fiber in my being not to jump across the room and strangle a bitch at that comment. Just, ugh, I can’t even fathom where to begin.
There are no ifs ands or buts about it, I will be riding as a mother, and if you think it will be several months before that happens after 9 months going without, you do not understand horse addiction. I see it as the exact equivalent of prioritizing a career after having a baby, except in my case, fitting in my riding is way easier. I am not slave to a 9-5. With horses right outside my back door, I can fit all those chores and riding sessions in between diaper and boob (or bottle) time. Or, if the day slips away from me, my husband does happen come home from work every night for a lending hand, and even in the winter months I can put those handy floodlights in the backyard to good use.
I can’t say I have been this confident throughout pregnancy thus far. I always wanted to stay home with my children. One of my biggest frets I have hormonally obsessed about has been this concept that “my life will be over, my riding will be over” once this kid comes. It was actually my neighbor, who raised two kids as an avid rider, followed up by my husband, who eased this major concern for me by pointing out that this is why baby monitors and nannies exist. Albeit this is not going to be as spontaneous and easy as riding pre baby, and I predict it will be about a month post partum before I’ll feel all together ‘down there’ and ready to ride. But where there is a will there is a way, and a supportive husband who understands I will turn witchy and run away in the middle of the night sans horse time surely helps.
With lessons, shows, and clinics typically landing on weekends, and the exsistance of babysitters, nannies, and daycare on the occasional instance they need to land during the week, I see no reason why so many women can make a career and a baby work and I couldn’t do the same with my riding.
So yes, I plan to have it all. Not just because I want it, but because I believe children become who they are mostly due to the example their parents set for them. My own self identity, which feels at home in the saddle, is just as important to maintain for my child’s sake as it is for my own sanity. This is a concept widely accepted when you analyze romantic relationships – you cannot be in a healthy coupling if you do not invest in your own interests first. Relationships are rarely healthy and successful when one partner has nothing in their lives outside their significant other. Why is it so unusual for a mother to do the same so she can put her best foot forward in her relationship with her child?
I’ll answer that for you: it’s not. Ride on, horsey moms, ride on. And have some jalapeno poppers, because they’re freaking delicious.