What do you wish someone had told you before becoming a parent? When we asked this question to our Facebook fans, almost 1,000 people chimed in with answers that included uncertainty, sleepless nights, and, above all, unconditional love. Here, just some of our favorite (and most relatable) answers—in your own words.
Baby booties
Credit: Laurence Mouton / Getty Images
Baby booties
Credit: Laurence Mouton / Getty Images

1 Childhood Flies By

I wish I had known that my children would be little for such a short time. I wish I had memorized every detail of those fleeting months—the sound of their first babbled words, the sight of that first precious smile, the feel of their so-soft baby skin, and the smell of their wispy hair when I kissed their heads. Most of all, I wish I had taken more time just to enjoy. A fellow mom once told me, "The days are long but the years are short," and she was so very right.

—Jennifer Crespi

2 There's So Much Love

I wish I had known how absolutely overwhelmed with emotions I would be. The love is so strong it can change you. I never knew I would love someone so much it hurts!

—Nicole Corey Theisen

3 It Can Be Strange at First

I wish more people talked about how it's normal and totally OK if you don't feel an immediate sense of overwhelming love. Becoming a mother isn't an instant fairy tale. Even though your baby grew inside of you, she is still a stranger. It can take some time for you to get to know each other.

—Anna Keyes

4 A Clean House Isn't the Most Important Thing

I wish I would have known how quickly a childhood passes. In the blink of an eye, they're off on their own. I would have cleaned less and played more.

—Angie Maniaci

5 You Cannot Be 'Prepared'

You are never fully ready. I don't think it's completely possible to be prepared to grow and raise a human, but you learn along the way and make mistakes. Becoming a mom is not something that is easy or happens overnight. It's an ongoing process. No one is great at it all the time. Be true to yourself and your values. Your children will grow up to be great adults.

—Ashlee Tapley Blodgett

I wish I had known that no matter how many books I read about newborns, and no matter how many parenting preparation classes I attended, nothing would teach me nearly as much as my own baby did. Don't stress too much... you'll learn everything with each other as you both grow.

—Jamie Knott

6 You'll See Your Own Parents Differently

You truly do not understand or appreciate your own parents until you become one. Only then can you look back with new eyes at what each moment meant and what they did to put you first. I wish I'd seen my own parents clearer, and loved them better for it, sooner.

—Veronica Kleckner

7 It Changes You—a Lot

I wish I would have been warned about what specifically was going to happen to my body after delivering and through the healing process. I remember being quite surprised.

—Jan Alisa Kulda

There's no such thing is going back to before. Whether it's the pre-baby body or the pre-baby lifestyle, everything changes the moment the baby arrives. There is both a great joy and a sense of loss in acknowledging that life will never be the same. You are stronger than you ever thought you could possibly be.

—Rebecca Rawls Croskey

8 You Still Need to Take Care of Yourself

I wish I had known to take care of my children's mother just as much as I took care of them! But I so afraid of missing something, or not having everything done around the home and for my family that I short changed myself! Take time for a good bath or shower. Eat a good meal. Make time for some exercise. Basic self care is what I should have done. I wish, as a Grandma, I could get down on the floor and play with my granddaughters!

—Pam Fidler

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.