Go back to the time before you had a child. Did you envision what your life would look like, the kind of mom you would turn out to be? Whether you wanted to be like your mom or nothing like her? You probably had at least one unrealistic expectation of becoming a mother. I did. Some days I am a rockstar and other days I ride the struggle bus.....all day long and I will be the first to admit it.
I had dreams of the perfect birth, the baby boy that I was going to have, his name, what things he would do as a child, and all of the cute things I would dress him in. I prayed and prayed for that child to come when I wanted it to. But prayer doesn't work like that, and it's a good thing it doesn't. I wanted to be just like my mom and have the kind of relationship with my child that we have today. It's like that fairytale life that doesn't exist except for in the movies, which forces us to believe that what we are living and doing is much less exciting or important. And a lot of the times we believe it.
I am a labor nurse (just not practicing) and I have watched hundreds of women give birth to babies and their expectations are sometimes shattered. It's reality. I had to take medication to get pregnant with my child and no one plans for that. Our bodies are supposed to know how to make babies right? Like everyone else can without issue. But no one likes talking to you about the difficult stuff, and if they do, it scares you into going to the crazy side where you then Google every scenario possible, then bawl. I was lucky enough to get pregnant, give birth via c-section, and now I am trying to keep this child alive on a daily basis.
I started reading books on how to properly bring up a child. I read the book, Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. After finishing the book I swore up and down I would never give my daughter snacks. HAHAHA right. I literally reached for every "right" way to parent and what was going to make me appear to be a "good mom". I had access to every thing possible during my pregnancy being the wife of an OBGYN physician . You know all of those ultrasounds where you could see your baby, their sweet facial expressions, and then find out the sex before anyone else can? Yeah well, my husband improperly informed me at 14 wks when he thought it was a boy on ultrasound, and I actually saw it too. Damn cord. Because at 19 weeks it was clearly not the vision I had imagined. A girl. What in the hell was I going to do with a girl? I didn't want that or know how to do that. I didn't want to raise a child who could potentially go through all of the pain and heartache I thought I had as a child, or the drama in school. I didn't want her to be like me. And on top of that, my stubborn little girl never showed me her face the entire time she was in my belly, not even once. She always had her hands by her face, the exact way she still sleeps to this day.
I thank God every single day for ignoring my selfish behavior and blessing me with a daughter. I had no idea what I was missing out on, but she is everything I needed and more. I thought I would dress her to the nines and make sure that she didn't leave the house without looking her best. Don't get me wrong, she has nice things and I do try to make sure she is bathed, but she also has a personality that is much bigger than my attempts to "perfect" her. I thought I would be the controlling, bossy mom that wanted everything to be in line and orderly, but that all went out the window pretty quickly after she was born. I allow her to pick out her sometimes hideous outfits, I run errands with her in no shoes, and if the fight is too much to brush her hair.....it goes unbrushed. No one dies. I think I became the mom who was just trying to survive at some point. I know that some older moms reading this are laughing and wanting to tell me that it will all be ok. I know it will be. How can you even reason with a toddler or child? They believe the know everything and sometimes that is a good thing because it forces me take a step back and ask myself, does it really matter? More than one case, it doesn't. She knows how to use her manners, share with her friends, and she is kind. Isn't that considered some success?
It was against ALL of the rules to ever let your child sleep with you. Every parent and non-parent will advise you of the havoc it could have on your life. We had strict sleeping rules right up until 6 weeks of age, that's right, 6 weeks, then she became a permeant part of our bed. Still is, no matter how much I bribe her with a new room or a new bed. So now I enjoy a kick to the side and a slap in the face almost every night, but I wouldn't change it. I smell her sweet smell, I remember her breathing patterns, and I cherish that quiet time where I can thank God for her. Take it in because it doesn't last forever. She told my husband the other day she will get her own room when she is 18
I thought I would be the most organized mom, photos every 3 months, baby book all decked out in her biggest accomplishments, sort of like a brag book. But the reality is I finally just got her 4 year old photos taken and the last entry in her baby book was when she was........ONE 😬 I guess my focus wasn't on those things and still isn't. I hope one day she doesn't ask me why I never completed her baby book up to age 5 like it allows for, and my answer may just be that it doesn't matter that much. I enjoyed every milestone with her, watching her grow and I remember the most important memories without having to read her baby book. Just because I chose not to scrap book like Martha Stewart, doesn't make me less of a mom. I feel like we all sort of loose our focus when we try to do what we think is right or what society expects of us. What if we had no expectations for ourselves? Do you think we would and could be better parents? I am so unorganized that I am thankful her school is only 5 minutes from my house so when I forget to bring 7 cheerios in a snack baggie with a perfect little label on it, I can run home and throw something together. I thought I would magically acquire patience and understanding. I loose my patience so fast still and it is something I constantly work on, but it's because I have these unrealistic expectations of my toddler that she is to behave like an adult in public for fear of being judged by other people. I am learning to let go.
I thought I would be the healthy advocate or the mom who pushed her daughter to do the activities that I loved. I am neither. Honestly the thought of being so booked up with her activities gives me anxiety. Of course I will put her in whatever activity that she chooses to do or try, but there will be limits. My daughter is tall and skinny. She was born 4 weeks early and has been on her own curve since then. Despite my efforts to make her part of the "normal" curve, she just isn't. So when she wants to eat a cookie for breakfast, somedays that is what she gets and we frequent McDonalds way more than the average human should but who cares? In the grand scheme of things, these are not priorities, at least to me. It is ok if they are yours, I am the last person to judge anyone, I promise you that! But I do challenge you to take a step back and look at what your visions were for your life and as a mother, then compare them to where you are today.
It's okay to have that "dream" busted. I think it's better that way. If I would have gotten the exact thing I thought I wanted, my life would not be what it is right now. I would not have the richness and the learning experiences that I have had. I have made PLENTY of mistakes but that is life. My daughter is happy and loved. That is really all I could ask for right now.I want you to go back through your photos of when your child or children were born, then follow them until you reach where they are today. iPhoto makes this extremely easy to do and when I did it, my heart was reminded of all of the love that I have in my life. Remember that time you expected something more than what you got? I guarantee looking back on it now, it doesn't even really matter in this present moment. Try it. Looking at my daughter now, it is impossible to ever think I would want her to be something different than she is right now.
Happy Mother's Day. The greatest gift of all is LOVE