All aboard! Who doesn't sometimes hang out in procrastination station. It is a sketchy place where thieves lurk stealing time and energy from unsuspecting visitors. It smells of laundry and dishes and garbage. I have been hanging out here for a bit too long and I know exactly what is stamped on my ticket. Expectations.
Not ones that you, gentle reader, have imposed but expectations of my own making. Because helping new moms to find joy in motherhood is such a passion of mine and because of my INFJ Meyers-briggs personality type, meaning is tantamount. I must have meaning. The flip side of this search for meaning is that if it is really, really, really meaningful in my mind, I cannot move forward easily because I am afraid I will mess it up. Someone else can do a much better job, Lord, send them. I think of Moses saying, I am slow of speech. Exodus 4:10 in the Old Testament. It sometimes makes me feel as if everything that surrounds this is an uphill battle because of my thoughts.
I have had this feeling in my mothering too. I felt a level of confidence in caring for a newborn. All my childcare and family experience paved the way for that but as the children grew older and started needing guidance I didn't know how to do that. I had grown up thinking that emotions were terrible things you got rid of as fast as possible. So dealing with a toddler melt down, wow! But how God used that to grow me! I was eventually able to see guidance as a way to help the girls be able to feel feelings and then deal with them appropriately and in each girls right timing. It grew my relationship with them and with God.
So what does this have to do with expectations? We have a certain idea, especially before children, that we will be a certain type of parent or that we have certain skills under our control. When a different personality comes to bear in your home, you may not get that control you thought you had. Your expectations of how you knew would care for your child may be challenged. Sometimes the first one is compliant with your expectations but the second child is very different. All the tools you used with the first one may not work at all with the next.
From birth, your job, with the help of God, is to be a detective. As a baby, nursing may not have come as easily as you expected. Try different holds or latching techniques to see what works. As a toddler, the way you expected to discipline might have the opposite effect. For example, sending one child to his room feels crushing because he thrives on interaction but for another it is a reward because they can play alone. Each stage will bring new things you have to sleuth and you will be challenged daily. What a blessing that God knows us and our children inside and out!
He can help you figure out why you are procrastinating. Are you feeling that someone else would do better with the child so opposite your personality? Are you suppressing your feelings of inadequacy or overwhelmed by the tasks required?
True confession time: I have many more ideas for blog posts. I am hoping God will pick someone else for the job of writing them. But I am pushing through today because I don't really want to miss the blessing of walking through this with Him.
I want to encourage you, the dividends of caring for your children's needs, emotional, physical, spiritual, will be paid. It may take a while but when, for example, you start to see your young ladies being praised in church for serving, as I have recently, it is beyond joyful. I made so many errors and really did not know how to promote healthy emotions but I kept learning in love and God is filling in all my gaps. What a wonder too, my ladies see my efforts and feel loved even when I make big mistakes.
Each mistake is a great opportunity to grow closer. Drop the negative feelings of expectations and look for the positive moments of growth. I'll keep practicing too.
Paula is a single mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula