Expectations can be a tricky thing, can’t they? As a general rule, it’s better to have no or very low expectations so that you don’t set yourself up for failure when they’re not met. But that’s so much easier said than done, would you agree? And so, when I was preparing for motherhood, I dreamt up very high expectations for myself and this new adventure in motherhood. Expectations that very quickly slammed up against the wall of reality once I was home with my new little boy. I’m about to be brutally honest here, people, and I’m not so sure I want to be. But here it goes, anyway…hopefully someone out there can relate!
I’ll be a chill, easygoing mom. I’m not really sure why I thought this in the first place, since I struggle being chill and easygoing in every other part of my life. But I really did have myself convinced that I could take this whole new baby thing in stride. And then you realize that this baby is yours and dependent on the decisions that you make. And all of a sudden the what if questions start flying and you picture worse case scenarios and worry about all these things that you know aren’t worth worrying about but you just can’t convince yourself of it so you worry anyway.
It’ll be easy, I have so much experience with babies. It’s quite amazing how quickly you realize that experience with other people’s babies isn’t the same as experience with your own. I had to figure out his sleeping schedule, his eating schedule (not to mention how to breastfeed since it didn’t come as naturally for us as I anticipated), his personality, his likes, his dislikes. 24/7 care of my own baby is so totally different then a few hours with a baby who’s mom tells you exactly what he or she needs. I was way over-confident. I felt completely in the dark in so many situations with him over the past five months. I found myself constantly googling solutions and asking my mom and other older moms for advice.
It’s only one baby, so it’ll be easy to keep everything clean and organized at home. I’ll get so much done! Will I be bored? No. The answer to that question is no. Because you have a baby who only naps for forty-five minutes at a time. And because you’re ready for bed at 8:00 pm because he woke up four times last night. And a baby doesn’t just sit contentedly in his bouncy chair for an hour while you make dinner. Oh and you constantly have to stop what you’re doing to feed him, rock him, interact with him, or calm him. Don’t get me wrong, I love each of those things. It just doesn’t lend itself to accomplishing tasks very efficiently!
The baby weight will come off pretty easily once I start exercising and eating healthy. I’ll be back in my old clothes by mid-summer. I’ll be one of those moms who looks cute and put together wherever she goes. Wrong again. Because the weight doesn’t just fall off and you find yourself buying new clothes that actually fit this weird, new body of yours. And you don’t look cute wherever you go, either, because you don’t have time to do makeup and blow dry your hair just to go to the grocery store. And if I’m not going anywhere? Messy bun and pj’s all day, thank you. Good thing I usually go at least somewhere every day!
I’ll never do this, that, or the other thing like that mom does. The truth is, you don’t know what you’re going to do until you have a baby of your own. Now I understand why parents just bring their baby into bed with them. I know why so many moms don’t want to let their babies cry it out. I know why they freak out about germs and don’t want their tiny babies passed around. I get that they don’t want to leave their baby in the first month or two. And you won’t understand until you have a child. There’s still things I do or don’t do (we made him cry it out for just two days and now he sleeps so well on his own!) but I no longer pass judgement on other moms doing it their own way. Because, especially in those first few months, you do what you have to just to get through.
These are just a few examples of the unmet expectations I’ve had to face in the past few months. It hasn’t been easy. This new mom thing didn’t come together nearly as picture perfect as I imagined and I just see the word “failure” flashing in front of my eyes. But guess what? There’s a few lessons I’m learning in all of this.
First of all, as I mentioned in the first place, it’s better not to set your expectations too high. I’m also learning to extend grace to fellow moms. Because before I became a mom, I probably would’ve rolled my eyes at other moms for doing exactly the things I’m doing or have done since my baby was born. I’ve discovered that it’s so important to ask for advice. There’s one mom who practically saved me when I was confused about his eating and sleeping schedule in those first few weeks at home. My grandmothers, aunts, mother-in-law and my own mom have provided such wisdom over these past few months. I never would have guessed how much help I would need! Fourth, I’m learning what’s important. Is it really all that important that I look perfectly put together every time I go out? Is it that big of a deal that there’s a sink full of dishes when I go to bed at night or that the pile of laundry is just a little too big? No, it’s really not. Not when you compare it to the big picture! Some of my expectations just need to disappear entirely.
And finally, I’m learning to lean on the Lord for the expectations that God calls me to meet. I really want to be an easygoing mom who trusts the Lord with the little life so dependent on me. I don’t want to be a worrier. I still want to look and be healthy and take care of this body God has given me. I want to glorify God and be the best mom I can to this little boy and the best wife I can be for my husband. But it’s not going to happen on my own. I can’t meet those expectations by myself. I need to go to God’s Word, pray, and let Him grow me in all those areas. And so, little by little and only by God’s grace, I’ve found myself improving and gaining ground toward those God-given expectations.
So, take stock of your expectations. Toss the ones that are unimportant. Be humble enough to ask for wisdom and advice. Don’t set expectations based on what you think you can do on your own. Keep the expectations you find in God’s Word and then rely on Him to help you slowly meet them. Extend grace. Take it day by day. I have such a long way to go, but I’m finding that’s it so much better to know you have a long way to go than to think that you’ve already arrived.