compiled by Kym Byrnes

There are plenty of books, podcasts, websites and manuals that help prepare women for motherhood. But let’s be honest, there is really nothing that can prepare women, or men for that matter, for the chaos and exhaustion (but also joy and amazement) that are unleashed with parenthood. Being a mom is a lifelong lesson in trial by fire, learning to manage pandemonium, and understanding that really being in control is a myth most of the time. So we went to the source, and asked local moms what experience has taught them that isn’t outlined on the pages of books and manuals.

Kelly Heck, Taneytown

Wanting “me” time while feeling the worst FOMO [fear of missing out] of your life when you finally do get “me” time. ❋ How about insomnia on the rare nights that your baby sleeps OK? ❋ Mastitis anyone? ❋ My baby just turned 1 year old and I’ve nearly broken my nose a few times already from accidental head butts. ❋ My knees hurt. ❋ Wanting to get out and do things with your new family and share your baby friends and also wanting to do absolutely nothing and see no one because exhaustion. ❋ If you thought farts were funny before… ❋ I keep thinking he won’t be cute anymore, and he just keeps getting cuter month after month. ❋ Cloth diapers aren’t that bad.

Lisa Aughenbaugh, Westminster

My kids can cite chapter and verse of every time they did something incredibly stupid or dangerous and what their punishment was. They remember things I swear never happened. ❋ No one told me that every single age and/or developmental stage is the hardest one.

Judy Griffith, Eldersburg

No one told me that I would miss adult conversations and interactions so much! Taking care of a 22-month-old and newborn twins had me isolated from being with friends. I loved being a mom, but missed my job as a teacher. As time went on things got better. There are so many things books don’t teach you. Reaching out to other moms was so helpful. I made such good friends after joining a twins club. We are still friends!

Peggi Dorr Mentges, Eldersburg

No one told me how fast the infant stage would go. Had I known it was so fast I wouldn’t have complained about the lack of sleep and instead appreciated even more holding my sweet babies in my arms for hours. I often wish I could spend one more day doing that.

Rachel Albertini-Holland, Union Bridge

After seven kids and several grandkids, my chapter of learning and passing down never ends. One thing I’ve learned: We ALL have that “it wasn’t me” child.

Kate Sobus Gardner, Westminster

Even though other 10-year-olds would be completely embarrassed to even look at you, there are some who are confident enough to welcome the hug, the “I love you,” even when all of their friends are right there to see it all. ❋ Nothing could have prepared me for being in a place where I’m teaching one kiddo how to drive while potty training the other! Two major milestones and so far apart.

Lori Graham, former Westminster resident

That you would constantly think of your kids first ❋ Your plans can change in 30 seconds because something fell through or wasn’t put on the calendar or communicated to you — but you make it happen. ❋ That when they are sick, even though you know what to do to make them better, it still makes you worry if they are going to be OK. ❋ They will have the same crushes, heartbreak and disappointments in relationships that you had as a young adult. And they have to learn the hard way, too. ❋ That they loved board games when they were little and it would drive you crazy — but when they get older board games are brought back so you have time to laugh and enjoy time as a family. ❋ That some days you take the long way home so conversations can finish at a good place for both of you. ❋ That as much as you love family time, there will be times when you miss the adult time with your spouse. ❋ But the No. 1 “no one told me” would have to be how quick they become yours. Just because they aren’t your blood and you haven’t helped raise them “from scratch” doesn’t mean you don’t love them with your whole heart. Their father is truly a gift and they are my wish daughters. I wish they were my blood!

As a parent you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.

Lynn Olexy, Westminster