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,
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.
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