Before becoming pregnant last year, I had a clear and distinguished vision of what my life would look like as a pregnant woman and a new mom. I knew for me, pregnancy would be a breeze. I mean after all, my mom had 7 children, and my sister had 2, neither of them had any pregnancy alignments and my mother says she didn't even have pain during labor...
And if pregnancy was so carefree, motherhood would be like a cake walk. I mean my mom raised 7 kids, how hard could it really be, right?
My vision went a little something like this...
Pregnancy would be effortless. I would walk around glowing, smiling ear to ear and feeling better than ever. Once my baby was born (with no pain of course) I would take on to motherhood swimmingly (even though I've maybe held a baby for a combined total of 10 minutes in the last 32 years). How hard could it be?
I would also be the mom who didn't need to use a pacifier, because, well, my baby just isn't fussy. Oh, and my baby, she'll be the most well behaved child ever.
Let's just say I had high expectations...
Flash forward to 4 weeks into my pregnancy and I am hurled over a toilet feeling like hell at 6pm at night wondering,
1. Why am I having terrible morning sickness when I'm super healthy, and my sister and mom never experienced this?
2. Why do they call this morning sickness if it lasts all day?
This exact moment was when my motherhood journey started to go every direction other than the one I planned.
My "morning" sickness lasted for 4 months and it was rougher than anything I could have ever imagined. It also didn't help that I rode the NYC Subway to work every morning while feeling nauseous and having that lovely heightened sense of smell that comes along with pregnancy, which made each ride (you guessed it) the worst experience ever.
And then there's the fact that all the pregnant women I knew had pretty amazing pregnancies, where they felt better than ever which made me feel like there must be something wrong with me.
But even though pregnancy wasn't going as planned, I still had high expectations for labor. Labor, yes, that's when I was really going to shine! I mean, I consider myself pretty tough, and I'm a yoga instructor, so I know how to breathe, so I pretty much had this labor thing in the bag. I mean I was almost certain my doctor was probably going to be so impressed by my "performance" that he would want me to help him coach other patients on how to be a rockstar during birth.
Then labor happened... and I cried like a baby, felt the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, screamed at my doctor to give me the f#%king epidural and eventually gave birth after 14 hours of, ahem, hell.
And then, as you may have guessed, motherhood gave me a reality slap in the face. My little girl is a screamer, and by screamer I mean my mother (who, remember, had 7 children) was convinced something was very wrong with my baby because she had never heard a baby scream like that before... turns out, that's just her regular cry. As for the pacifier, that came into the picture on day 2, and is very much still in the picture, and may never be leaving the picture. Oh and did I mention my baby is high on the fussy scale?
It wasn't until about a month into being a mother that I realized that the expectations I was creating were actually holding me back. Every expectation I set was keeping me from enjoying the present moment. As I'm sure you've heard or experienced, kids REALLY do grow up quickly and that time speeds up rapidly when you're not really focusing on what's occurring around you. This means that I needed to stop thinking about the past or the future and instead start focusing on right now. Learning to meditate was a huge help in that process.
This has also made me realize that my motherhood journey is just another part of my life, which means it's probably not going to go as planned. Which, turns out is great news because now I can look at my life as a bundle of surprises each and every day. Surprises that I wouldn't pass up for anything.
What I've noticed is that when I allow my life to unravel organically, I am more present and in turn a happier person, wife and mother. This has led me to let go of expectations, let go of what I dreamt will happen, and instead allow my life to happen.
This practice has also helped me to view the relationships I have with others differently. When I let go of my own expectations I also let go of the expectations I set around other people. As a wife, that means not expecting my husband to be a mindreader and instead doing my best to keep an open communication about our individual needs. As a mother, that means not expecting my daughter to hit certain milestones and instead just enjoying watching her grow at her own pace.
Of course, as you may have suspected, I'm not able to be present all the time (shocker, I know), nor am I always the most understanding wife, mother or friend. I have been known to take things out on my husband, almost lose my mind after my daughter cries for hours and not be the most responsive person when it comes to getting back to my friends. I'm not immune to letting my thoughts get away from me or to reacting negatively to those thoughts. My mind naturally goes off on tangents hourly about how my life will look or should look in the future, or how I should have done things differently in the past.
I am however, trying.
I do my best to catch myself setting expectations in my thoughts, and when that happens I simply just notice it and move on from there.