Thursday, January 6, 2011

How being a new mom is a lot like being an exchange student

I spent my senior year of high school as an AFS exchange student in Belgium, with the incredibly warm and welcoming Visart family (hi, Visarts)!, and attended a local school.  Right after college graduation, I spent a summer living with another family, this time in Beijing.  So I'm a fairly experienced exchange student.  In fact, given that those two experiences add up to about 14 months total, you could say that I have more experience as an exchange student than I have as a mother.  But, as my friend N. suggested recently, maybe those two things aren't so different after all!

Presenting:  the 10 reasons being a new mom is a lot like being an exchange student--

1)  You have to learn a new language.
Don't believe this?  Then, if you're not a mom, please define the following:  ergo.  prefold.  glider.  let-down.  hindmilk.  lanolin.  colic (shiver.  that one's scary).  scatatastrope.  (OK, I made that last one up).

2)  Your wardrobe is probably no longer appropriate.
Just like my cargo pants looked out of place in skinny pants land (aka Europe), new moms find that they are suddenly desirous of easy-access tops and dark, spit-up hiding colors.

3)  You might need to get some shots.
TDAP, anyone?

4)  You have a little extra around the middle.
Belgium is a wonderful land.  A land of wonderful people, wonderful beer, wonderful chocolate, wonderful mussels and frites...about 15 extra pounds of wonderful.  A situation with which new mothers can certainly commiserate.

5)  Your old friends might get sick of hearing about your new adventures.
Whether it's that time that you took a train!  To Italy!  And you met this awesome girl!  And you talked all night!, or, your sudden intense desire to discuss newborn sleeping ability and baby bowel habits, doesn't make much difference.

6)  You're inexplicably emotional.
Exchange students spend lots of time angsting into their journals...while new mothers just sob quietly at that beautiful, touching, toilet paper ad on TV.

7)  You're listening to new music.
Whether it's CDs of lullaby music, or new French radio hits...

8)  Your parents can't believe that their little girl is all grown up.
Funny how that one still applies, huh?

9)  The way you get introduced to people has changed.
Instead of just Jennifer, you're now "Jennifer...the American!", or "Jennifer...the new mom!"

10)  Your world is suddenly larger.

Exchange student 
New mom

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