The side effects of motherhood

May cause drowsiness. No one sits you down before motherhood and tells you the truth. Mothers are so tired they can no longer articulate the truth. Motherhood is hard. It sucks the life out of the very vibrant, wads it up with sticky chewing gum placed in your palm and allows you to discover it months later along with a discarded, stinky sock shoved under the bed. You will be so tired that you won’t even flinch.

May cause wakefulness. You start the early years waking every two hours to feed the child, and you end the teenage years waking every two hours to check if that child has made it home safely. You wake at 2 a.m. to see if the fever broke, if you locked all the doors, if the last of the cake is gone. You wake early to leave for Disney World, and you stay awake late to watch the last of the ballgame. You have no memory of a full night’s sleep. Probably, it’s because your memory is shot.

May make you sound like your mother. Be on your best behavior. Put your napkin in your lap. Cover your mouth when you yawn. Don’t pick your nose. Life’s not fair. (“But Mom, can you tell me,” asks my 6-year-old son, “what is life?”) Go ask your father. Kill them with kindness. What goes around, comes around. Remember your jacket, your manners, your soul. Attitude is everything. Put a smile on your face. Wipe that smirk off your face. Don’t chew with your mouth open. Stand up straight. Watch your language. Watch for cars. Watch out for strangers.

May cause extreme emotions. Laughing until you snort at an at-home talent show. Crying without shame during graduation, during favorite songs, during schmaltzy commercials. Screaming and jumping like an idiot as your child rounds third. Yelling through the crowd, over the music, to end a fight. Falling to your knees when what could have happened mercifully didn’t. Motherhood makes you wear your heart on your sleeve and wear something that resembles snot or throw-up on your shoulders. This may go on for years.

May change your attitude. You no longer say “never.” As in “I will never cut the crusts off. I will never let them wear flip-flops to church. I will never do the Funky Chicken at a dance party in the living room. I’m an adult.” You are not an adult. You are a mother. Your shame left town when you called the hotel housekeeping line to report a “bathroom incident.” Your modesty was stripped from you on the delivery table. Your gag reflex strengthened when you pulled that wad of hair from the drain. You judge other people’s children less. You don’t know what the future holds for yours.

Read the warning label. Motherhood makes you crazy, makes you sentimental, makes you eat grilled cheese. It’s worth every penny. And it will take every penny you have. Motherhood can steal your very identity, if you let it, and leave you with a dirty handprint on the window, a basket of soiled laundry and cherished memories captured in photos crammed in an unorganized baby book. Motherhood will leave you a different person, a better person. Four out of five mothers agree that the side effects are worth it. Possibly, it’s because they don’t remember who they were or what they did with all that free time before their children came to grace their lives.