Thursday, September 8, 2011

Expectations

Earlier this week I chatted with a girlfriend who is about to have her first baby any day now.  As we sat in her clean house (she joked that she felt like she was preparing for "freaking royalty") and Sam napped in his carseat beside me, I was taken back to the last days of my own pregnancy.  In some ways, that feels like AGES away, but other times - like that afternoon - it feels like mere days ago.  We talked about her plans and philosophies for parenting, and - I kid you not - her responses could have come directly from my mouth two months ago.  

As we talked, my mind jumped back and forth between two places...

On the one hand, I mourned the loss of my own expectations.  As you've probably already figured out from this blog, the first few weeks of parenthood didn't really go the way I had "planned."  It wasn't that they were bad exactly; but, I had done a lot of reading and research and even soul-searching, and I genuinely thought I knew who I would be as a mother.  As it turned out, I had no idea.  Motherhood so far, for me, has been about letting go of a lot (most) of my expectations and re-defining my role as "mom" with a real baby in mind - not just the one I imagined for nine months.  Hearing my girlfriend talk about the things I too believed or wanted to do but just didn't work out made lies like "you failed" or "you can't go back now" whisper at my core.  For a few minutes, it made me doubt some of the decisions I've made and ways I've done things, and wonder if I should have been more disciplined when it came to scheduling, or crying, or sleeping those first few weeks.


On the other hand, I fought the cynic in me that wanted to yell out - "Ha! You just wait! I thought those things too, and they don't work in real life! Parenting is nothing like the books make it seem!" But, the reality is that it might actually go that way for her... She might have a baby that is adaptable and independent right from the start.  Despite what my experience tells me, people use these "techniques" all the time, and things turn out just fine for them... And, I guess, if I'm honest, that kind-of makes me a bitter beaver. I wanted that too; I was no less committed or prepared (heaven knows I prepared), but that wasn't the baby I was given... That was what I wasn't prepared for.


When I got home, because I wanted to torture myself just for the heck of it, I decided to pull out my ole Babywise* book (the one I put away around week three because I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown) to see where we were "supposed" to be.  When I flipped to the Sample Schedule for an eight week old, I realized that Sam's natural day to day routine looks, ironically, almost identical.  It was an "Aha Moment" as Oprah says... There are MANY roads leading to the same place.  My route may look different from other mothers and babies - and really, why would I expect any different? - but the ultimate destination for us all is a healthy, happy baby.  Finally, my heart could rest - at least until the next decision had to be made.

Expectations are a tough monster.  It goes completely against our very human nature to have none (especially during pregnancy - for goodness sake, they call it expecting for a reason!); but, they rarely do us any favors... Do I wish I'd prepared less? No. Do I wish I'd expected less? Absolutely not.

It's a lesson I have to learn over and over and over again... My plans are not God's plans.  God chose SAM for me.  God chose to rock my world a little bit with a baby that cried a lot and wasn't nearly as scheduled and organized as his mother. I am COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the woman I was eight weeks ago; and, somehow, I think I'm still turning out to be a pretty darn good mom - maybe even a better one than my expectations would have allowed me to believe...

*A quick word about Babywise - which, FYI, isn't the only "expectation" I'm talking about, just one of the more tangible ones:  Those of you that warned me to "be careful."  You were right.  I should have taken those words more seriously... It is a dangerous thing to set ALL your sights on one thing. That said, I'm not anti.  I've heard too many success stories to argue for one minute that it doesn't work.  And, I honestly don't think it is "cruel" or "unnatural."  I just think all babies are different.  It didn't work for me this time, maybe it will next time.  I'm glad I know about it... But, I'm also glad I've broadened my horizons a bit.  That's all.

Oh.
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11 comments:

  1. I was just telling my husband the same thing last night. I was ready to start Babywise from day one. Then I met our little Luke, held him and looked into his eyes and realized I could NEVER let him cry in his crib while I sat outside the door. I realized that both he and I love nursing him to sleep and rocking him while he snoozes. I agree with you-- Babywise is best approached with caution and an open mind.

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  2. I fight that urge sometimes...to tackle a pregnant mom and be like HA! WHAT DO YOU KNOW!? But I don't. Because we all will find our own path, that works for us, ultimately, it will work out to some degree. That's their job to figure out who they are as a mother...not mine to "warn" them or whatever. Because it could turn out differently than they (or I) think for them, etc.

    And I think I may have been one of the babywise warners...only because I'd seen it do a number on my niece. Then as a mom of a kiddo, myself...I felt just like Ashley above....it was my job to be there for her, she has needs too. And that doesn't always mean she has to sleep 8 hours a night at 6 weeks old. Ya know?

    Anyway, you've come far ;) Proud of you.

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  3. That's what I think too. Going by the books is not for everyone/every baby. You have to do what is right for the both of you.
    Carley

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  4. I love you're honesty. This is why I still try my best when chatting with pregnant moms or new moms to say, "This is what worked for me" after EVERYTHING I say, because we are different people with different babies and what might have worked for me may or may not work for you. Lots of people don't get that, and have this "My way is the only way" which is just silly! You go girl!!

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  5. Whoops didn't proof read!!! haha

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  6. You are an amazing Mom! The struggle to not compare your child or situation to others is tough. All children grow and learn at different paces. I remember almost crying when Nathan wasn't sitting up yet and another baby was! Oh the pressures we place on ourselves! A child will teach the lesson of patience over and over throughout time. As long as they are happy and healthy~ right? :) Welcome to the wonderful world of seeing the world through a child's eyes.
    Kristy :)

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  7. My Dear Beautie,I think that you're a wonderful Mom...always do what works for you. Always be true to yourself!
    I Love you,Your Aunt D

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  8. You are the best!!!!I love you!!

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  9. My experience with my now, nearly three year old (tear!) has been the same. With every help book I try to take it in as you would an old wives tale or someone giving you advice in the grocery store. Keep what you can use and let the rest go in one ear or out the other. No one else knows your baby. No one else loves your baby like you do. I held my son constantly. And as a working mom I held him when we got home from work and daycare so that he took his evening naps with me and naps on the weekends too. At those precious times I rubbed his head, studied his changing features, traced his cheeks and kissed and cuddled to my hearts content. (Though, it wasn't enough b/c I still try to wrangle him to cuddle now; he's two, ha!) He was in our room until 4 months old, but I think mostly because I missed him while I was working.

    All that being said, I am a lurker, de-lurking to tell you Sam is beautiful and perfect. You are a wonderful mom. If you want to hold him, soothe him or whatever parenting road you want to take, go for it. Babies are ever changing and Sam may become more adaptable as time goes on, and may also bring some of that out in you. But when it all shakes out... you decide and you deal with the consequences, good or bad. ANd like you said, if at the end of the day, Sam is content, loved, healthy... then what more could you want. Oh and thank you for having a cute baby and sharing pictures. You are feeding my baby addiction/baby fever.

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  10. First off, I LOVE your blog. I am 6th grade math teacher and I am 8 months pregnant. I love your candor and honesty. I thought it was interesting that I just got home from my first Baby Care class at the hospital and they told us NOT to read Babywise. I am trying to manage my own expectations of becoming a first time mom. Right now, it is just take one day at time, listen to my own body, heart and soul and welcome all challanges with a smile!

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  11. "here are MANY roads leading to the same place. My route may look different from other mothers and babies" this gives me the perspective i needed this morning, had my first baby 9/5 and planned for a natural birth--which didn't happen. as i keep replaying what i SHOULD have done...i have to remind myself that i have a happy healthy baby and what is right for others is not always what is right for me. thanks for your words!

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Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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