Yup, before I became a mom I knew EXACTLY how things would be. After all, I had been "practicing" since I was a little girl, caring for baby dolls and playing house. I grew up and became a therapist and clinical social worker with high risk children with emotional issues and violent or aggressive behaviors. I even taught parenting classes to their parents and caregivers in need of support, long before I actually became a parent.
I had so many opinions and expectations of what and how I would rock this whole parenting thing. After all, I had a college degree, Master's from an Ivy League school and a good job, not to mention a bit of a control freak. I thought I could handle it all.
Then came the dirty, messy REALITY!
It started in pregnancy. When the cute round baby belly brought on unexpected daily vomiting, hemorrhoids, leg cramps, heartburn & bra burn. (Yes it is a thing. It is the painful burning sensation between breasts and top of the baby belly). I guess if I had not gained sixty pounds it may not have been such an issue, but alas another surprise of motherhood!
Then came my children. I lost any sense of control I thought I had and gained an affection for all things smelly and gross. Changing a gazillion diapers a day and being routinely covered in pee, vomit and other bodily fluids became the norm. I would pick crusty boogers out of my sons nose when he was a toddler so often that he began lovingly pick his nose and then give it to me saying, "here mom", just because he thought I wanted them.
So many of my well laid out plans went right out of the window. Breast feeding, for example. I was adamant to not use formula, yet I struggled to make it work. Even with professional lactation consultants, I could not get things to work out and my daughter dehydrated within a few days of coming home from the hospital. Thankfully we caught it, and she recovered quickly. However, I felt this overwhelming sense of guilt and failure at the first and most basic thing a mom can do; feed her baby.
As time went on I found the differences between my expectation and reality hit me like a ton of bricks time after time. Mommy guilt kept finding a way into my life as I worked and raised two kids. Eventually I learned that the problem was not in parenting but in my expectations of perfection. Letting go of the idea of "perfect parenting" and embracing things as they are made all the difference. Over time I learned to take myself less seriously and enjoy as much as I can. I understand that along with being human comes imperfections and flaws that figure themselves out through trial and error every single day.
I am thankful for my mistakes, because they helped me see all there is to be grateful for in parenting each and every day. The reality may be different from my expectations, but now I see the fullness that it brings to my life no matter how messy and chaotic things can be. And the reality is I love my children more than I ever expected!
More stories of imperfection can be found in the book "Lose That Mommy Guilt".