As I prepare to go back to work on Monday disappointment has been at the forefront of my mind and an emotion weighing heavy on my heart. Learning to manage my disappointment is hard. Really really hard.
I had a conversation a few days back with a dear friend of mine about the expectations we set for ourselves as mamas, often times high and unrealistic, that lead to our own disappointment. Sometimes that disappointment manifests itself in unexpected ways such as crying in the middle supermarket over having to make a decision that is “best of the worst case scenarios”.
This conversation got me thinking… I’ve had a lot of time to think with the baby on the boob… as I work through all of the emotions that come with being a working mama.
I am a planning kind of gal as I’m sure many of you can relate. I love my calendars and schedules. I like to have goals and objectives and lists. Oh the lists. I KNOW I’m not the only one out there that writes to-do lists and adds completed tasks just to cross them off.
Get out of bed. Brush teeth. Drink coffee. Drink more coffee. Brush teeth again. Go to work.
Drink more coffee.
Anyway, as I was saying.. I’m a planner. I like to have an idea of how things are going to go. I’m the type of gal that thinks about all of the things I need to accomplish in a day and then places the puzzle pieces together so that they make complete sense. I really pride myself on being efficient because wasting time is one of my biggest pet peeves. If I need to drive across town to pick something up, I’ll strategically plan 3 stops along the way to make the most of my time (and my gas because mamas on a budget!!) Planning keeps my sanity. Most of the time.
Most of the time a plan helps me stay organized and get things done in a logical and wise way. The downfall is learning to manage the disappointment that comes with failing plans.
Several things come to mind. First, the last 8 weeks I’ve had to cope with the fact that I had a medicated childbirth. I had high hopes of a “natural” (yuck yuck yuck) child birth. It wasn’t until I started following a gal on Instagram (Sarah, over at The Dainty Pear) and her thoughts on child birth that made me a little less frustrated with the outcome of our story. Sarah says something so empowering about childbirth that I wish everyone knew. She says “all birth is natural” and encourages us to refer to what many call a “natural” birth as “unmedicated” birth instead. This simple shift in language gave me so much peace about my (more than) 48 hour birth story. Before labor, my goal, was to have an intervention free birth. I am tired of hearing that I don’t need to prove anything and there’s no need to be a hero. It was never about proving anything or being a hero. It was a choice, I consciously made, with my husband, about my body, and our baby. It was a hope we had and wanted for our story. I tried to tell myself that epidural aren’t the devil and should I need one in birth I wouldn’t be disappointed in myself. As much as I tried to prepare for multiple different outcomes, and did a lot of work to avoid disappointment, deep down, I knew I would be disappointed. Sure enough. There I was. Mid labor, body horribly failing me, and struggling to manage disappointment. It sounds crazy 8 weeks out to still be struggling processing this. I know my baby is safe, and healthy, and here… and I know that’s what matters. But what also mattered to me was having an intervention free birth. When people say “all that matters is x, y, or z” it makes me feel like even more of a failure, like of course that’s what matters MOST. But guess what ALSO MATTERED to me was having an unmedicated birth. Trying to diminish my feelings is hurtful, even though I know that’s not the intent.
It got me thinking. What if we started saying “I know it was important for you to have an unmedicated birth. I’m sorry it didn’t go the way you wanted. I’m proud of you for loving your baby and honoring your body the way you did. You’re a rockstar mama and I’m proud of you”
What if we all learned to be more mindful starting with our words? It’s hard, and I’m the first to say.. I fail miserably at this… every day.
At CrossFit the other day a girlfriend of mine asked me a question that really touched me. She explained that she has a girlfriend (outside of our CrossFit community) that is having a really hard time managing unmet expectations. She was a passionate careeer woman who, like many of us, dedicated so much of her life toward her career and her success. She wasn’t the type of woman that imagined herself being a stay at home mom and did not imagine being hugely disappointed when it was time for her to return to work after having her baby. While, I expected the disappointment, there are so many parts of this narrative I can relate to. I’ve dedicated my whole adult life to achieving success in the work world and my job became so much of my identity. This friend of mine asked me what she should say to her friend. She wanted to know what I would want to hear if I were in that situation. Guess what? I AM in that situation.
My immediate thought? IF WE ALL COULD BE THIS MINDFUL! I explained all I want to hear from my friends is that they’re praying for me and they love me. I encouraged her to keep it simple and to remind her friend that she’s there for her and thinking of her during this extremely difficult transition.
I’m going back to work on Monday. I don’t want to hear that women do this all the time. I don’t want to hear that it’s not as bad as I think it is. I don’t want to hear “at least Maryn will be with Michael.” And I most certainly don’t want to hear “at least you had 8 weeks of maternity leave!”
I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I’m processing! This would not be our choice of plans. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the best of the worst case scenarios is that Michael is able to be home with her. Don’t be turned off that I call this a worst case scenario. We BOTH wanted it to be me. We know it’s great that it’s one of us that gets to be with her. It doesn’t make my disappointment and sadness any less. I want to be with her. I want to be home. I’m going to have a REALLY hard time going back. I know women do this all the time, I know I can handle it, I know it will get better, I know it’s great that Michael gets to be with her, and I know I got 8 weeks of maternity leave. Makes it NO. LESS. HARD. What helps is knowing that my tribe is praying for me and that I have a lot of people on my team that don’t make me feel like shit for being disappointed. What is also great? It’s great to not be told my feelings don’t matter. Essentially by saying “at least x, y, or z didn’t happen” is saying that persons feelings aren’t valid.
Giving my disappointment to God is hard. I pray through it multiple times a day.
A few things are keeping me afloat right now.
A few weeks ago Michael had me listen to this new Thomas Rhett song. Hello hormones, I sobbed my way through it. There is a line that is SO INCREDIBLY relatable. He says, “you make your plans and you hear God laughing, life changes!” Oh goodness how this speaks to my soul! (All of this is true BTW– Thomas and his wife Lauren adopted a baby from Uganda and then had a bio baby too. Cray. Beautiful. Tears. Yikes. Love. Wow. Tears). Oh how life changes. I love country music. Please go listen to that song. It’s so good!
I also have been reminded of my favorite verse Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This verse has shown up in the most unexpected and beautiful ways throughout my life. As I prepare to go back to work I am reminded that God did not miss or forget this part of the story. I must thank my beautiful friend for reminding me about this simple truth. God has a plan, and He has been preparing me for it my whole life. And somehow He loves Maryn more than we do. For some reason, all of this is just the way God designed it to be. I must confess, my faith in this narrative is not as strong as it should be.
God, give me grace and help me trust you more. Your plan is greater than mine.