Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Expectations of a new mom

Do you know what I think is the most destructive force in the life of a new mom? Personal expectations. After all, many girls grow up dreaming of what it will be like when they have a baby of their own. Many times they base their expectations on their perception of their mother's experiences. If she was a SAHM and they plan to follow in her footsteps, they expect things to be the way they were for her. If she worked outside the home, they think that will be a breeze.

The problem is, we often don't perceive reality when we're small children. We may think our moms had an easy time of it, but chances are our perceptions are false. If Mom kept the house in perfect order, we think we'll be able to do the same. If Mom always had dinner on the table by 6 even though she worked 9-5, we expect similar mealtime routines. What we don't remember, perhaps, is the bags under Mom's eyes. She may have made it look easy to us, but we were children, after all, and our perception reflects that. Besides, as children, did we even notice the pile of laundry that sat on the couch for 3 days or the TV dinners she popped in the oven?

The bottom line is, it's not easy being a mother. Period.

The sweet cooing of a baby is often replaced by the sounds of colic. The sweet baby smell dissipates with each poopy diaper. The sweet caresses of your husband suddenly seem like nothing more than an annoyance. Sex becomes just one more thing on your to-do list and, generally, if you had your way, it wouldn't even be on the list at all. Besides, with all the changes your body is going through, the last thing you feel is sexy.

You stay-at-home-moms may have expected to have a perfectly clean home once you were able to quit work and be home full-time. You imagined full course meals, fresh baked bread and time to clip coupons. But you probably didn't take into account the constant demands of a newborn, nor could you have possibly perceived the overwhelming fatigue you would experience in those first few months.

Being up with a baby throughout the night only to have the alarm ring at 6 so you can put on your corporate attire and head out for day, creates a different picture than what you had imagined, doesn't it? A question will haunt you: How did my mother do this? You might even be moved to write her a note, thanking her for the sacrifices she made...if only you weren't too tired to lift a pen.

Expectations are rarely realistic. Acknowledging this can make the transistion from tired-pregnant-lady to exhausted-young-mom a little bit easier. Every baby is different and the dynamics in your family are not the same as the dynamics in someone else's. You are not supermom and no one expects you to be, so cut yourself a break and enjoy today for what it is. Tomorrow will present its own challenges and rewards.

If you're hooked on expectations, expect this: diapers aren't the only changes ahead. Ride the'll come out on top and your kids will grow up thinking you had it all together after all.

Keeping it emotionally healthy,


1 comment:

  1. So much of motherhood is just hanging in there and doing your best. Most days I feel like I'm failing at something. It's a hard juggle.


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