I don’t want to curse myself by saying this, but I think I might be finding my groove. Sure, you say, Dylan is 11 weeks old now, of course you’re finding your groove. And while that makes perfect sense–I’m getting more experienced and Dylan and I have bonded and figured out how to communicate–I believe the main reason I feel better about this whole parenthood thing has to do with a shift in my perception. I beat myself up a lot in the first couple of months, thinking I would be a Supermom and Superwife and that everything would be just perfect. Like, even though I knew intellectually that that expectation was insane, I still held onto it deep down inside. I felt horrible on the days when I couldn’t manage to get myself fed and showered without help from Brian, even though I was doing a great job keeping Dylan fed and happy. I thought motherhood would mean that I would care for the baby and still manage to be dressed and put together everyday, prepare (and eat!) all our meals, run all the errands, and keep our house spotless. Those of you who have children know how crazy this sounds. And now, through the gifts of time and reason, I do, too. I am finally learning to let go of ridiculous expectations and all the “shoulds” that were piling up in my brain and making me feel bad about myself.
I think the other big reason that things are getting a lot easier for me is that I have made great strides in learning to accept things as they are. This has actually been a goal of mine for years, but as necessity is the mother of invention, I didn’t really start accepting things until I was left with no other option. Obviously it’s okay to want things to be a certain way, but if you hold on to that desire too tightly once you have a child, then you are quickly going to lose your mind. This is coupled tightly with setting priorities in your life, in the sense that your priorities suddenly become very clear when you have a child and it is pretty easy to look at everything that isn’t top priority and say, okay, you’re fine just the way you are. Who cares if your ability to exercise acceptance is borne of an exhaustion so extreme that it leaves you unable to care about so many of the things that you used to deem important? Exactly. For a perfection-minded maximizer like me, acceptance is like a muscle that gets stronger every time I use it regardless of the reason why I’m using it!
So I’m in a groove now where I don’t criticize myself too harshly, stubbornly refuse help that I need, or freak out when things aren’t going the way I thought they would (or should!). As it turns out, parenthood is a great learning experience and opportunity for personal growth. In true Jessica fashion, I used to think I would get myself just the way I wanted to be before I had children. As in, I’ll get rid of all my flaws and and become my ideal self and then I will be good enough and “done” enough to focus on someone else. Ha! I’m so glad I didn’t wait until that happened, because a) it wouldn’t have, and b) becoming a mother has put me on the fast track to becoming my ideal self anyway. The day-in-day-out of being a mother is helping me change in ways I’ve always wanted to but for some reason just couldn’t, and is, amazingly, doing so much for my feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. I could go on, but you get the point: parenthood is helping me change in positive ways and as I make those changes being a parent gets easier and better. Ahhhh!
And now, because I know that as soon as you saw the title of this post you immediately thought of that Simon & Garfunkel song and I would hate to let you down:
(And sorry they are all old in this video, but it is late and I did not have the patience to go find another version!)