On Expectations and Hard Truths

Source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/381861

“Nothing about parenthood (or life for that matter) is perfect, but truthfully, I wouldn’t want things to be perfect because the messy and complicated imperfect is so much more fun.”

I’m writing over at the world-famous (like best-selling author famous!) Scary Mommy website today about letting go of expectations and learning certain hard truths. Below is an excerpt, but please read the rest here.

Motherhood – when I stepped into it nearly seven years ago – was not something that I slid into easily, like a pair of soft cotton/spandex yoga pants.

Rather, motherhood was more like pulling on a pair of skinny jeans that I hadn’t fit into for years. I yanked and wiggled, I held my breath and contorted my body.

Becoming a parent – for me – was awkward, clumsy, and anything but natural. The pain was shocking, the emotional lows were shameful, and the loneliness was numbing. And all of this was exacerbated by pesky and incessant feelings of failure and inadequacy – most of which I put on myself through preconceived expectations of what parenthood would be like and the kind of mother that I would be.

Through the years, I have learned (and am learning) several hard truths, each one stripping away the expectations and leaving in their place authenticity and courage, vulnerability and resilience. Each hard truth has been a nugget of insight into my family, my spirit, and humanity as a whole. Each one has taken me a step closer to the parent – and person – that I am called to be.

1. You may never feel like the “old you” again. New parents often ask, “When will things feel normal again? When will I feel like me?” I asked these same questions as a new parent. I wondered when the pain would end, when the sleep would come, and when I would feel like the person I was before I had kids. I wanted to feel “normal” again, but really there is no going back to the “old me.” There is only a new normal.

The new normal includes school forms and carpools, watching Gravity Falls and building Lego creations, baskets of toys and marker on walls, too much coffee and too little sleep. The new normal is feeling like my heart is outside of my body, but never feeling alone. The new normal is stolen kisses behind locked doors, Sunday night movies, and conversations in hushed whispers. The new normal is always feeling a little bit guilty, always wondering if I’m doing enough, always worrying about the wellbeing and happiness of these growing little people. The new normal is fewer, but stronger, friendships. The new normal is a deeper appreciation for my own parents, and a fear of failing my children in some way. The new normal is reminiscing about the “good old days,” but knowing that right here, right now is exactly where I want to be.

You can read the rest of the 10 Hard Truths I Learned About Parenting here.

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