As you’re pregnant and as you continue to move through the various phases of parenthood, you’re going to be consistently doing things you’ve never done before. You’re going to be fielding questions about when you’re due, gaining pregnancy weight, preparing for delivery, adjusting to new sleep schedules, receiving opinions about what sorts of childcare work best, determining how you want to handle discipline, and the list goes on and on. These are new endeavors, and it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be immediately skilled in these areas. You are unfamiliar with what thoughts, feelings, and reactions you’ll have, and this may be a source of anxiety for many.
Too often, we expect perfection from ourselves right out of the gate. It’s not fair. You wouldn’t expect someone to be perfect at tennis the first time he picks up a racket, so why hold yourself to an impossible standard? Give yourself some breaks. You will make mistakes. You will continue to make mistakes as the parenting journey continues and you enter each new phase with your child. The sooner you accept that you’ll be messing up along the way, the sooner you can actually see and learn the lessons presented in each set new of circumstances.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I called up my friend Thea in a moment of complete overwhelm. It was near the end of my pregnancy and I was already making post-maternity business commitments. A zillion questions and concerns were running through my head: “What time in the morning can I actually expect to be at a meeting? What kind of sleep schedule will my son be on? How long will it take to get two kids up and ready and dropped off at daycare?” I often felt short of time with just one kid. How was I going to get it all done with two? I spewed this litany of questions at Thea and she chuckled sympathetically and said something along the lines of, “And you expect yourself to be able to answer all these questions today?”
We went on to talk about how you just don’t know until you know. All I could do was make my best guesses about how it would work in the future and adjust from there. Thea shared that she didn’t know how to be a mother to a three-year-old boy and she didn’t know how to pick the best preschool for her son. Yet, she’d soon be doing both. I realized that I needed to adjust to a lifetime of adjusting. And to do that, I was going to have to give myself a break and allow for some imperfections.
What do you need to give yourself a break about? How could you do so?