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Managing expectations and letting go

Posted Jun 14 2011 1:18pm

Sometimes, I’m an idiot.

Before I had Liam, for some reason I assumed that maternity leave would be this magical time off where I would hang around the apartment and tackle all of the projects that have been sitting on my to-do list for months. I can re-organize our closets! Start the baby book! Sell a bunch of stuff we don’t need anymore on eBay! Read those books I bought around Christmastime and never got around to! Twelve weeks is plenty of time to get my entire life back in order.

Well, here’s what maternity leave is really like:

  • After going down around midnight, little man wakes me up at some ungodly hour of the morning to eat, usually 3 or 4am. I nurse him, change him, then we both try to go back to sleep. Sometimes he goes right back down, and sometimes I’m up rocking him for another hour. And sometimes he refuses to go down and I wake up Matt to help me.
  • Like clockwork, he’s hungry again about 3 hours after his last meal started. Nurse, change, lather, rinse, repeat. Now it’s close to 8am and while I’m dead tired, I usually wake up for the day at this point.
  • COFFEE. COFFEECOFFEECOFFEE. (bonus points if you recognize the reference!)
  • Little man and I hang out for a bit on his playmat, swing, etc., until he starts showing the tell-tale nap signs. Then I swaddle him, rock him and get him to sleep, a seemingly easy process that usually takes 30 minutes or so…or close to an hour when he’s fighting sleep.
  • Now that he’s down, it’s Kara time. Oh wait, I have to pump. Crap.
  • I check the clock after 10-15 minutes of pumping, and I’ve got about 45 minutes (or less) before he needs to nurse again. Time to choose: eating, cleaning the apartment, calling people/paying bills/assorted to-dos, napping, showering, reading, or blogging/random internet time.
  • It’s time to nurse again already? If Liam’s not awake yet I wake him up [side note: just got the OK from the pediatrician to let him nap and wake up on his own to nurse-huzzah! he's a terrible nurser when he's sleepy] and change him. And it all starts over again.

I’m currently halfway through my 12 weeks of leave and while I have crossed a few big things off my to-do list (pulling out summer clothes — kind of a necessity, putting away maternity clothes, resuming blogging), most days I barely have the time or energy to shower after the “musts” are done: taking care of Liam, walking Barkley in the afternoon and eating. When I go back to work I’m sure the to-do list will grow longer and I’ll be even less inclined to work on big projects; I’ll want to spend every waking second I have with my little family, and every minute Liam’s asleep in bed catching up on sleep.

But, I’m surprisingly okay with it. If the sink is full of dishes for a few days or the laundry piles up a bit higher than I’d like it to, then so be it. If our closets stay messy and packed to the gills until we move, then they stay messy. I know where most of the stuff I need is anyway! As long as we’re all happy and healthy, then everything else will fall into place. I think becoming a mom has made me a little more zen…except for every minute of every day when I’m worrying about Liam in one way or another ;)

Have you let go of any unreasonable expectations you set for yourself, or are you currently trying to? What held you/what’s holding you back?

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