Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Put Them Aside

Recently, I wrote about how I should trust my own intuition when it comes to parenting. I realized I would continue to be unhappy if didn't stop expecting my children to behave the way I wanted them to. I have been thinking about these expectations often and felt like maybe I wasn't alone with these thoughts when I read a recent blog post by my friend Kelly. In her post, Kelly essentially vocalized similar feelings of frustrations when it came to starting the day with firm expectations and then being consistently disappointed with how things turn out. Therefore, she had adopted a policy of maintaining no expectations.

Before we were even married, Nathan told me that most unhappiness arises "when our expectations differ from reality." After the craziness of Sunday, Nathan and I discussed this principal with his parents and decided to do our best to give up our expectations when it comes to our children.  If Eliza wakes up several times in the middle of the night--that's fine. If Ezra and Elliott want to nurse twice as much as the average baby--that's fine. If we only get two hours of sleep at night--we'll find a way to manage. We always do. And instead of being angry or upset that our days/nights don't go as planned, we will be happy just to have survived another day. We will appreciate more the wonderful things that happen every day, even when we are tired and struggling.

Obviously, I have been thinking about this nonstop. I have been doing my best to embrace this new way of life and to be honest--it isn't easy. Before we went to bed last night, Nathan and I told each other we would handle whatever happened that evening with acceptance and patience. Eliza went to sleep after some coaxing, and we put the boys to bed after keeping them awake for several hours.

It was just after 11:00 PM. We were hopeful.

Twenty minutes later, Ezra woke up. Half an hour later, Eliza woke up. She had a 101.5 degree fever and was obviously feeling horrible. She was sobbing and could not be consoled. It was the first time Eliza has had a fever in her life (that we know of), so Nathan and I had no clue what to do or how to react. Soon, both babies were awake, and Cheryl and Rex (who we can usually rely on to help us in the early morning when we have a horrible night) were not feeling well, either. Every person in the house was awake at 3:00 AM, and all I could think was, "Talk about opposition when we were trying to be positive!"

By 4 AM, Eliza was asleep. The boys were awake until 8:30 which, consequently, was when Eliza woke up. I began feeling angry, but noticed Nathan was, as my grandmother would say, "as cool as a cucumber." He hadn't slept in 24 hours, but he was positive and still had copious amounts of positivity and patience. He fed Ezra, as he snuggled a sick Eliza. He washed bottles and made sure I got to take a nap.

He had effectively given up his expectations for what the day would be like, and he found happiness in taking care of his family. It took me a little bit longer to come around, but my midday (and after my nap), I began to feel hopeful. I tried to live in the moment, rather than in the future. I enjoyed holding a snuggling (yet feverish) Eliza until she fell asleep. I enjoyed bathing the children and nursing the boys to sleep. I enjoyed my night, rather than dreading it.

Tonight, has been great (so far). Ezra, Elliott, and Eliza (and Nathan) all went to bed at 9 and they are all sleep three hours later. That is a minor success on its own! I should go join them.

And I know I say this often, but I feel so lucky to be married to Nathan. He constantly shows me what selflessness and patience are.

(And how cute are these kids!?)


  1. What beautiful children you have! I always say that nothing heals a heart like watching your own children sleeping. The love that swells in my heart when I see them resting is just about the strongest I ever feel.
    Anyway, I agree so much with the expectations. One of the best things I did with both Ella and Hazel was to tell myself that it was okay if I got nothing done and was a complete mess for X amount of months. And then SLOWLY (and I mean slowly) I start adding in expectations. Today we'll all get dressed and then a while later add in, today we'll all get bathed and dressed (instead of each of us getting bathed just a couple times a week) and then today we'll walk around the block instead of staying inside all day. I feel proud of accomplishing the "small" expectations that I set for myself months after having a baby, haha. Hang in there, you guys are WONDERFUL parents. What matters most is that your kids know that you love them and remember, this too shall pass (and we might even miss it some day!)

  2. It's a wonderful feeling of peace when you can just put away expectations and just be. I think that this is harder for most "J" personalities to get to, since y'all always have to have a plan. Once you can though, you aren't bogged down by what you are placing on your shoulders as failures. Instead they just become experiences and part of the day. I hope you can continue with this mindset and that things will continue to get better. Also, I hope everyone starts to feel better soon! Sickness is not awesome, I don't care what your outlook is.

  3. I love you Cecilia. It definitely is hard and i don't do it successfully every day but i can tell you, i haven't gotten angry at the boys once since i finally re-accepted the philosophy. It's hard being a control freak to give up control (talking about me). You have beautiful kids and it sounds like a great supportive husband! I love you!


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