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What the baby books don't tell you: The TODAY Parenting team gets real about child-raising

While the joy of being a new mom or dad is immeasurable, there are some ugly truths of parenting. Does anyone really know what they're doing?
/ Source: TODAY

While the sheer joy of being a new mom or dad is immeasurable, there are some ugly truths of parenting — a topic that surfaced among the TODAY Parenting Team community this month when we asked you to share the things you wish you'd known before having children.

The craziness, the mess, the lack of alone time. And does anyone really know what they’re doing?

On Thursday, TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie and a group of moms tackled the less glamorous side of bringing up baby — everything the baby books don't tell you, but what you really want and need to hear.

Read more: TODAY Parenting Team: The new rules of 'sharenting'

Savannah admitted that she knew nothing before she brought her daughter Vale home, but she quickly learned on the job.

Read more from Savannah: I knew nothing, but now I know this

Other members of our community shared times their frustrations do get the best of them. Like Danielle Campoamor, a Seattle mom, who admitted that sometimes being a mom isn't fun.

"I'm so exhausted that words no longer make sense and I can feel palpable pieces of my sanity deteriorating," she said.

TODAY producer and blogger Patrice Poltzer assured other moms there is crying in parenting: “It's OK if there are tears when you can't swaddle your baby. Know that practice makes perfect.”

Parenting can be overwhelming, but it's often better when you know the little secrets of others in the same boat. That's the idea behind the TODAY Parenting Team community, which is open to everyone — click here to check it out, register and start contributing your own voice. (Who knows, maybe next month you'll be chatting with Savannah on TODAY!)

So we gathered some great moms to get real and tell it like it is: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Randi Zuckerberg is a mom of two and the host of "Dot Complicated" on Sirius XM. Angie Goff also has two kids at home and is an anchor at NBC in Washington. Jen Hatmaker is a mom of five and the author of "For The Love". They discussed these "ugly truths" of parenting.

1. Your personal hygiene will decline

Showers may become optional as the baby takes up all of your time. That’s why you don’t see moms in Facebook photos, you only see the babies, Zuckerberg quipped.

Read more from Randi Zuckerberg: Watch out for week 6

Hatmaker recalled her husband coming up to her at one point and saying bluntly, "Baby, I need to tell you something: It’s been five days and you need to go visit the shower.”

Read more from Jen Hatmaker: I wish someone had warned me about these BIG FEELINGS.

"What’s so funny is that you really do need a shower because you are leaking from every place that you can leak," Goff said.

Read more from Angie Goff: You're going to need those mesh panties

Savannah noted this problem, along with body image issues, may impact a new mom's sex life.

"You definitely don’t feel attractive and that’s hard for a lot of women to deal with. The reality is the moment that you realize what you’ve done – this beautiful thing that you’ve made – those battle scars are absolutely worth it," Goff said.

"When my husband sees how I mother my children, I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to be good, but when he sees how great I am towards them, he finds that a little bit sexy."

2. Embrace the crazy

Accept that not everything you'll say or do will be rational: Zuckerberg remembers screaming at her husband just because he bought her ice cream.

"I can remember every lyric to every Madonna song, but I can’t even remember my own children’s names," she said.

When things get crazy, Hatmaker reminds herself that this phase doesn't last forever.

"It gets better — your brain comes back. You will wear pants with a button again. You will wear a normal bra again. It all comes back, so it’s a stage and it’s hard, but it’s also so quick," she said.

3. We’re all trying to figure this out

In a survey, 73 percent of respondents said they were basically clueless when they had their first child. Only 27 percent thought they were prepared for the challenges ahead.

"We’re all clueless. Anyone who is acting like they know what they’re doing, they’re not letting on," Savannah said.

"The way I describe parenting is it’s like you’re performing daily at the improv," Goff added. "There is no one who is a professional at it and if you try to be a professional at it, you’re just setting yourself up for failure."

The conversation continues on the TODAY Parenting Team: Join us, and weigh in on the new challenge of the month: What are your time-saving hacks to make parenting less stressful and more fun?