Posts Tagged ‘expectations’

Great Expectations

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Great ExpectationsI remember the moment distinctly. I would keep it entirely to myself, a secret between me and the not-so-quiet of the night, except I’m hopeful sharing it will allow another mama respite. Our sons were born 19 months apart. Even in the best of times of supportive family and friends, children are intense.

One night after a third feeding and as many shirts covered in spit up, while my 4-week-old screamed through a diaper change, I found myself screaming back in exacerbation, “WHAT DO YOU WANT, CHILD?!” Shockingly, that gorgeous babe did not stop to let me in on his secret requests. I slammed the bedroom door, temporarily infuriated that my husband did not immediately hear this and make it easier for me in that moment. I took a deep, exasperated breath, one that leads to a sigh teeming with disappointment; then I dutifully swaddled the lad, sat back down in my comfy seat, and basked in the glow of darkness because I felt unworthy of anything else in that moment.

On the other side of sleep, I woke refreshed and with new perspective on both myself and the babe. I actually knew exactly what my child needed; he had no secrets. He wanted my love and nurturing touch. It was quite a boost in competence to realize he simply needed me. His expectations were actually quite low in some regards. He just wanted me, milk, a dry bum, and a snuggled sweet spot on my chest. I could do that. Turns out my toddler’s needs are just about the same.

The hard work came not in seeing my son’s reasonable expectations of me, but in admitting I had high expectations of him. Many of them weren’t even my expectations but this culture of parenting where if you read this book, buy that gadget, or follow this method, then a baby will sleep. I realized I was lost in the expectation of a sleeping baby. If baby wasn’t asleep at night, baby was wrong. Didn’t he know it was night?! I expected a convenient baby. I soon realized much of my frustration with our toddler was rooted in expecting a convenient toddler as well.

Such a simple shift in my expectation—expecting that my 8 week old WILL wake up in the night suddenly made each night an opportunity rather than a task. Yes, I was still tired. Now when I am flustered I can almost always root my frustration down to my expectations. Some expectations are worth having, but sometimes they don’t add up.

My shift in expectation wasn’t a magic bullet that kept me perky and bright every moment of every day, but this night sticks with me still, over a year later, because it holds true for me in a deep, meaningful way.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Sorry, I Have Toddlers

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Sorry, I have toddlers.

Instead of sending out Christmas cards this year, I’m sending up a white flag.

In truth, organizationally, I haven’t yet recovered from my second pregnancy. The last time I sent out Christmas cards, I barely had a baby bump from our election night baby who was due the next summer.

Most of the time I have no problem owning the fact that I am not a Pinterest mom who does themed décor for each holiday. The weeks when I do manage a shower every day, I think, “Hmm, I sure am showering a lot,” without even realizing this was normal. I don’t feel put together, perfect or enviable. But it doesn’t bother me.

Until the holidays.

The holidays are when I really feel it, because that’s when all the normal people with either no kids–or at least kids who can use the restroom independently–really turn on the afterburners. They go above and beyond with the decorations and the family portraits and the cards and the fancy treats at get-togethers. Their kids are in new Christmas outfits that probably coordinate. They make things. They do that damn Elf on the Shelf and create interesting tableaus each night that they artfully photograph and post for your enjoyment. They aren’t late and their houses are clean. It’s not a big deal, because this is the only time of year they are pulling the late shift. It’s OK. It’ll be over in a few weeks.

Right now, my whole life is the late shift. Things like daily showers have become my extra effort. I get to the holidays, and I can’t turn it up any hotter. This is it, this is me at full blast. I have no afterburners at this point, and I have no idea when this part ends and I finally get a break. Do I get a break, or do I just develop more endurance? The thought terrifies me.

Anyone who has survived toddlers without going full-on Britney Spears crazy has discovered the same secret to get them through it: No Expectations. None. Expectations will be the death of you. And yet you can’t escape it during the holidays, even if you are keenly aware of the dangers.

SOrry, I have Toddlers

You have these visions of sharing a lovely thanksgiving meal together, or sitting by the fire and gazing at the tree, and these ideas are so humble, so innocent, that when your toddler comes along and say, hypothetically, dumps out

your entire turkey and brine and floods the kitchen, or singlehandedly pulls down the Christmas tree, you are caught off guard. You’re devastated. And you swore you would never set yourself up for that again.

It’s heartbreaking because you let yourself dream this one tiny dream, be it of a stout-brined thanksgiving turkey, or an evening where no one throws up, or even just a few hours of sleep, and when it’s dashed it’s can feel like a knife in your heart.

The rest of the year I am good at no expectations, so the holidays just bum me out. I wish I could enjoy them more from the sidelines, knowing that soon, my girls will be joining in on all the making and doing and giving and we’ll be doing it all together, but I can’t. Not this year. Between the turkey, and the tree, I’m spent. So at the next party, I’m not going to feel at all bad when I show up empty handed and immediately begin pouring myself a glass of wine without presenting the host with a lovely tray of handcrafted sugar cookies or a crocheted something I found on Pinterest. I’m just going to help myself, sit down, put my feet up, and say, “Sorry. I have toddlers.”

Merry Christmas.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls ages 6, 3, and 1. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.