Close your eyes and think of this: you are pregnant and about to embark on the blissful journey of parenthood… What does that look like in your mind? Or if you already have kids, remember back to the time when you were pregnant and try to think about all the things you thought your life would be like once your sweet little baby got in your arms. Most people already had an idea of what parenthood would look like even before they have their own kids. I know I did… and after being a parent for almost 9 years now, I can say that what I thought it would be was 100% wrong. Sure we have moments of picturesque Pinterest activities and amazing family game nights where no one gets mad. But mostly it is chaos, craziness and cleaning up the same toys over and over again. And as much fun as it all is, I had to adjust my expectations of what parenthood should look like quite a bit.
I have found over the years that parenting is just one big adjustment, especially in the first year. Each child brought new challenges and just as I thought I had it all figured out one of them would throw a curve ball. As a new mom with my first, I was totally thrown off by her inability to just go to bed. Sleep. That is all I wanted. So we ended up sleeping together because that was the only way we all slept, even though co-sleeping was something I was totally against before she was here. With the next two kids I didn’t care where they slept as long as they were sleeping (in a safe place of course). Although, we couldn’t seem to get the second child out of our bed… It wasn’t until baby #3 came along that we really decided to press the issue. We also gave him a pacifier from the beginning. Getting that thing out of our nightly routine required jumping through some major hoops. But during those years we all got sleep! Our third was a great sleeper and nurser, I thought I finally hit the jack pot with an easy kid! We had no challenges getting started with breastfeeding and I had these wonderful ideas of pumping once while at work and continuing to breastfeed while together at home. He had other ideas for once I returned to work and after 2 weeks of a lot of tears & struggles switching from bottle to breast, I decided I had to be ok with exclusively pumping. I was much happier and so was he. Exclusively pumping really ended up working out great for our family. Were those all the right choices? Maybe, maybe not… could I have done something differently? Better? Probably, but who really knows how it would have ended up in either situation… either way it is what worked for us at the time or I would probably make those same decisions if I had to go back.
Other people didn’t always agree with the choices we made in parenting but I have learned that doing what works for our family is really what is best. Once I gave myself permission to do what works for us I felt so much better about our choices. Every day brings new struggles and choices. As our kids continue to grow and change the picture that I have in my head of what life will change. What I think life will be like having a preteen (gasp!) is going to change as we get closer—and that’s ok, I am working on being flexible. We will continue to make mistakes along the way but I feel like as long as our choices are based on what we think is best for our family and not based on other people’s opinions we will be ok.
The point: Do what is best for your family. Forgive yourself for the bumps, move on and make adjustments tomorrow!