family, parenthood

Expectations VS Reality

I’m following someone from my past who just recently had a baby. She had a difficult birth and since her first wasn’t the ideal birth she envisioned, the second was a bit harder to handle it seems since she had all these expectations of what and how she wanted it to be the second time around. She’s very much immersed into the whole motherhood and body thing where she’s all about being in tune with her body during her whole pregnancy and is very into the whole natural birthing wonder of the human body. Her baby had some difficulty after birth and had to spend a few weeks in the NICU. I know she’s probably just venting on Facebook, a space where she’s surrounded by friends and family and a wonderful support group, but as an acquaintance who also went through some difficulty after birth, it’s a tad frustrating to read through these comments of what she thought things would be like and how they are supposed to be and how disappointed and frustrated she is with reality. Like, we get it. You can’t spend the time you want with your older son in this beautiful weather because your little one is taking up so much of your time. I get what it’s like to be cooped up at home and not get some fresh air because you’re just busy with a baby whose sole mission in its little life so far is to make you miserable and hate yourself with inconsolable crying. I get that life was difficult and disappointing and nothing like you imagined it when your baby was in the NICU and whisked away from you after birth. BUT YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE. I think I’m more sensitive to her postings because I went through it too, but never venting about it on Facebook and only a few close people know about Shane and his struggles. I think I’m just annoyed because I feel as though she has all these expectations about how motherhood should be – the adorable hours of intoxicating baby smells and cuddles, the dreamy closeness you get when you’re breastfeeding, and the magical feeling you get when you’re baby wearing and able to function in public with the use of both your hands. BUT THESE ARE NOT EVEN REAL EXPECTATIONS. THESE ARE EXPECTATIONS CULTIVATED BY THE MEDIA AND SOCIETY. YOU AREN’T DOING ANYTHING WRONG IF YOU’RE SPENDING DAYS AT HOME WITHOUT SHOWERING BECAUSE YOUR BABY WON’T STOP CRYING FOR LONGER THAN 10 MINUTES IN STRETCHES OF HOURS. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO MISS OUT ON BONDING MOMENTS IF YOU DON’T BREASTFEED. YOU DON’T NEED TO FEEL LIKE SHIT IF YOU PUT YOUR OLDER CHILD UP IN FRONT OF A TV WHEN YOU’RE CARING FOR A BABY OR IF YOUR CHILD FALLS IN THE PLAYGROUND AND YOU’RE NOT THERE IN TWO SECONDS TO PICK HIM UP BECAUSE YOUR HANDS ARE FULL WITH ANOTHER BABY. YOU’RE NOT A FAILURE BECAUSE OF ANY OF THIS. WE’RE ALL JUST SURVIVING. WE’RE ALL JUST TRYING TO GET AS MUCH SLEEP AS WE CAN WHILE WE TRY TO FIND OURSELVES IN THIS NEW ROLE AS A MOTHER (OF MULTIPLES). WE’RE ALL TRYING TO FIND A SWEET SPOT WHERE WE TEETER ON THE BRINK OF HAPPINESS/SANITY AND COMPLETE, UTTER MADNESS.

I’m just tired. And annoyed.
All I really have to do is UNFOLLOW.

I am actually really happy for her. She has a wonderful social media following and feels comfortable enough to share all her worries on her page. Some days I wish I had that. Others, I am just grateful for the support system I have now.

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“How’s mom life?” 

There’s only one answer to that, right? 

“It’s great!” 

Even if you feel like you’re drowning. Even if you feel like you’re consumed with self-loathing thoughts. Even when you’ve realized it’s been a whole week without any adult conversation aside from “what do you want for dinner” and “how was your day”. Even when you are so sleep deprived you’re literally a walking zombie going through the motions of feeding babies, cleaning up babies, saying “no” to babies, chasing after babies, praying and rocking babies to nap, and repeat. Even if the only thing getting you through the day is the 10 minute shower you begin the day with. Even if you’re so exhausted you feel like you just want out of the life which then makes you feel like the worst mother. Even on the days you’re too tired and your child eats a bag of cookies for lunch and you feel like a failure. 

Even then. Any other answer aside from “it’s great” is not acceptable. An acquaintance asked me this very question at a mutual friend’s wedding we attended today (sans babies!). 

“How’s mom life?” He asked eagerly. 

“Eh,…” I hesitated, as I took a sip of much needed nectar from the gods in the form of fermented grapes. 

“Wonderful, I assume? I bet it’s the best being at home with the two babies!”

“Wonderful is definitely a word to describe it.” 

He kind of slinked away awkwardly after looking at me quizzically at my response. 

What else was I to say?

“Oh, you know. Breastfeeding is going well, but the baby doesn’t really seem to be interested in solids at 7 mo. Baby Shane is a handful, but considering his diagnosis, he’s excelling in every area of development! Baby Dom is now mobile and getting into everything his older brother is getting into. We’re moving the little one into his crib and I’m going through a roller coaster of emotions. Life is hard. I’m lonely at home. I wait for hubby to get home and when he does I fight a computer game for his attention. I’m sleep deprived and exhausted. My emotions and hormones are still trying to get balanced. I’m angry and frustrated most days. I’m elated and blessed others. We have no time or money to do much or go out much. We mainly keep to ourselves cause it’s just too kick of a hassle to go anywhere or do anything logistically with two babies under two. But aside from all that, I’m great. Life is great. Parenthood is great.” 

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The Regrets of the Day 

Every evening I lay next to my littlest. I watch his little eyes flutter. I listen to his little sighs amidst his snores. I feel his little fingers and toes twitch. 

Every night I think about the day we went through. Every night I regret not doing enough for them. Every night I regret not playing with them more. I regret not paying more attention to them. I regret not preventing their boredom, their falls, and their shrieks of frustration. I regret every frustrated scream I aim at them. I regret yelling at them as they try to launch themselves the couches. I regret holding them down during diaper changes as they try to touch their butts and pee pees. I regret not giving them 100% of my attention all the time. 

I know I’m doing the best I can. But it doesn’t negate my feelings of inadequacy and failure. 

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