This is not What To Expect

In the beginning, sleep was all I really yearned for.  A good four hour stretch, and I might feel somewhat human the next day.  I might perhaps feel like the girl I’d always known myself to be: prepared and in control.  I wanted to feel my humanness–not necessarily an easy task for a new mom.

Ironically, though, it was the baby- the very one who was stealing my sleep- who woke me up to my full human being-ness.  This is how it happened: Life started to get hard.  It really sucked being sleep deprived.  Later when my daughter started getting recurring ear infections, I thought- I should be able to handle this.  I didn’t want to admit just how difficult it was for me!  This was not who I thought I was!  I felt ready when I arrived at motherhood, centered, and carrying with me an idea of how life was going to be.

That was the way I had lived- knowing what to expect.  (There’s a reason What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the iconic book it is, because our culture places value on what can be known, logically, linearly, rationally).  But life was introducing me to a new way, one that is creative, unknown, open and receptive.  Life was giving me what I needed in the form of hardship and challenge and it was inviting me to create my own version of motherhood.  I was being given the opportunity to define it for myself. To exchange the voice that says, “You should be able to handle this,” for one that says, “Surrender to what this moment is telling you.”

The impulses of creativity and evolving life are at work even in those moments when we want to pop some “Screwitol” pills.

Imagine this:  The moment we say SCREW IT ALL is the moment we are being pushed toward something utterly new.  Now that is not what we expected!

Barbara Marx Hubbard says, rather than wondering “What is wrong with me?” ask, “What wants to be born in me?”  Maybe it is a new belief or a new rhythm to your life.  Some thing wants to express!

It took a while for me to realize this, because in those dark moments, it’s so easy to just say Screwitol.  But as I began to cultivate a space within myself, and as I engaged in new conversation with wise women, I came to see that Life is always in support of me.  I’m no longer who I thought I was, the prepared and in control girl; out of the struggles emerged this new self- a woman open to the divine mystery of life flowing through her.  Now all I yearn for is to be awake, wide awake!

No matter if you are a working mom judging yourself when you hand your baby over each day, a stay-at-home mom criticizing yourself because this is NOT the way you envisioned it (wasn’t it going to be all muffin baking Tuesdays and craft-making Wednesdays?); we are all trying to find the balance between caring for our children and caring for ourselves.  Stop judging.  Stop criticizing. Start creating something new.  (It can be simple- create a new goodbye ritual, create a “mommy moment” in your schedule).  And this is so important- start having these conversations with other moms!  I invite you to start here in the comment section.

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6 Comments on “This is not What To Expect

  1. thank you, carrie! i have had a few of these “screwitol” moments this past week — possibly the hardest moments so far in motherhood. my 18-month-old, transitioning to a new home, moving from living outdoors in the tropics to a new time zone in the mountains has taken a toll on our sleep routine. she is having such a hard time going to sleep and i reached a moment last night where i thought i just can’t handle this anymore! (after trying to put her to sleep for 3 hours, and her having drifted off and woken up several times) — your article has come at the perfect time. i need to create something new and surrender to what is; try to find opportunities for growth.

    • Gretchen, I totally know what you’re talking about–some of my hardest moments were centered around getting Elle to sleep! It’s so hard! She definitely gave me my biggest dose of “medicine” in those trying moments, when I was fighting whats happening…It helped me to let go of control in other areas of my life.
      But that doesn’t mean it was easy!!!!
      I’m glad the article came at a synchronistic time for you!
      May you enjoy your new mountain view!

  2. Great post Carrie. I was not a fan of “What to expect…” from the get go. Like so many things in life, parts of it were helpful, but the rest…. P-L-E-E-E-A-S-E, are you serious? I’m referring to the dietary restrictions they espoused during pregnancy etc. I think it might have been about then that I stopped reading, and picked up another book.

    Lulu just her first ear infection a 4 years of age, and we went through a rough, sleepless night the other night. I can’t imagine what that would have been like to go through with an infant an a recurring basis.

    Keep blogging Carrie, your voice is so vital, and it’s so great how you encourage others to join in the conversation. Miss you. mx

    • Megan, thank you for your comment and encouragement!! I’m hoping Lulu’s ears are all healed up. If it becomes a recurring thing, I’ve got lots of recommendations 🙂
      Miss you & glad to hear your voice here…You’re creative edge is so needed!

  3. Hey Carrie,
    Love the article. I know that lack of sleep. Ashton much like Elle had 12 ear infections by 9 months of age. Finally at that time we had tubes put in and have had only a few in the last three years. The first year of Ashtons life I felt like the walking dead. 🙂 Caring for him left absolutely no time for myself.. Or for anything at all other than working. As you said that experience has helped me to be a better mother the second time around. I now know my limits and take help when offered. I guess the best way to learn is through experiences and identifying opportunities for improvement. I bet Mama Judy really had this down by the time Mark and Mike got here .. Ha ha.. No really Ansley is so different than Ashton it’s a whole new learning experience in itself. I hope everything is well with you and your family. Hope to see you soon.
    Love ya
    Ashley

    • Ashley, we ought to write a book called Elliott Ears: How we evolved through ear infections! It’s so hard to find the balance when our children are in pain, and all we want to do is help them get better. I look back to that time and know that I couldn’t have mothered any differently than I did–holding her, comforting her throughout the night–AND now I know that mothering myself is also as vital. Even just five minutes to sit down and say hello to myself would have made a big difference.
      Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!
      Hoping to meet her soon, get a hug from you and continue these conversations,
      Love, Carrie

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