Today I had a terrific mid-afternoon/early-evening plan: put N down for nap, take a shower, get gussied up. Make a delicious, healthy dinner for N. Hand over the reins to grandma and go out to a friend’s birthday party with G.
Sounded so easy! I even put it in my calendar (3:30-6:00pm).
Here’s how it really went: take a shower, nearly one hour late. Realize I’m exhausted; lay down and take a 10-minute nap. Wake to the sound of N bouncing off the walls instead of sleeping. Encourage N to sleep. Leave. Hear more bouncing. Give up on encouraging N to sleep. Have a nesting/hormone attack and furiously straighten up the nursery; look around at the rest of the messy house, then cry. Ask G to call grandma and tell her I’ll stay home and watch N tonight, since N hasn’t napped and bedtime is likely to be tough. Lay down for another 10-minute nap. Awake to N jumping on me. Say goodbye to G on his way to the party. Order pizza, pop in a movie. Watch movie with N on the couch. Twice.
Once N was in bed, I decided that I didn’t want to feel quite so lame-o for missing my friend’s party and foregoing a home-cooked meal for pizza, so I turned my attention to the messy house. I kicked into my “whirlwind” mode, as G calls it; when I am tidying up, I am a woman on a mission. It’s compulsive — I cannot stop until a modicum of order is restored: kitchen is clean, shoes and coats are back in closets, toys are returned to their places, etc.
But tonight I knew I had gone over the edge when I found myself tidying up my daughter’s dollhouse — picking up and rearranging knocked-over chairs, tables, etc. It felt weird, like when you look into a mirror and hold it up to another mirror and then there you are, looking at yourself in the mirror into infinity. For one silly moment I pictured the doll-mom tidying up her daughter’s toy dollhouse, where an even smaller doll-mom was doing the same.
In that moment, I realized that I might have set my expectations for tonight a tad too high.
When N was born, I had to seriously adjust my expectations in every area of my life. I (foggily) recall a time — I’ll call it “the pre-motherhood newlywed phase” — when I went out of my way to find a grocery store with a kind of brie I like. Just about every parent can (foggily) recall such pre-parenthood memories — for example, going out to a restaurant with little or no advance planning, just because you feel like eating Thai food. Or going to the beach on vacation whenever you felt like it, laying down on a towel in the sun and falling asleep.
That life seems so very far away now. Of course, I would never exchange that life for my life as a mom. But truthfully, the adjustment is so big and so quick that it can feel surreal sometimes.
And now, in a matter of weeks, our whole family will have another major adjustment: God willing, we will welcome a brand new family member into our lives. I don’t know what adjustments will need to be made, but — unlike the first time around — I am fully cognizant that we will need to adjust, adjust, and keep adjusting. That’s just how it goes with little kiddoes — it’s one transition after another. It seems that the very moment you get used to things being one way, they change.
And I’m cringing a little, knowing that my already-lowered expectations will probably have to go down another notch or two, especially in the beginning. I’m not sure why (is it just me? my upbringing? society?), but it’s very difficult for me to willingly let go of high expectations. Sometimes life forces me to lower my expectations, like tonight. But then I wind up still holding myself responsible for the stuff I feel I should have done, and feeling disappointed.
Perhaps I need to take smaller steps. I could start with the dollhouse, and vow to myself never to tidy it up again. (That is a harder challenge than it sounds!)
Or I could stop expecting to find a solution tonight and just go to bed. Actually, that sounds pretty good. Especially since I fully expect to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again!