Dear New Mom: Balancing Expectations
Dear New Mom:
Balancing expectations is extremely difficult no matter who you are or which season of life you are in. I’ve found it nearly impossible in motherhood. Take today, for example: I have had a nasty chest cold for a few days and have developed a fever. As in, the “to do” list got thrown out the window and I’m stuck on the couch for the day.
I was supposed to run errands, go grocery shopping, do some housework, and get ready for a tea party tomorrow. Instead, I’m drinking tea, stuck on the couch, and feeling overwhelmed by the chaos around me. A couple weeks ago I had a total melt down. It ended in me sobbing to Keith that I just can’t seem to be a good enough wife and his life must’ve been easier before I came along. When he scoffed at me, I realized I was the only one seeing myself as a failure. Somehow I was putting ridiculous expectations on myself that I could never possibly fulfill.
I think part of my issue is that I am approaching motherhood from the lens of a former full-time teacher. I see each day as a list of things to accomplish and feel as if I’ve failed if they don’t get crossed off. My days are less quantifiable since there are not many deadlines in life anymore. I am learning to give myself grace and in the midst of it all, I realized my priorities were grossly misplaced.
I realized I was trying to please Keith. I was working for his acceptance instead of trusting that he loves me and wants me to be his wife (and his baby mama) because of who I am, not what I have earned or accomplished. In her book Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman, puts it perfectly. She is referring to how we try to earn God’s acceptance, but it’s the same idea.
Though I never would have admitted it had I been asked, my deepest belief was that I had to perform for God in order to earn his acceptance. I would try hard to muster up the motivation I thought was required of me to achieve it, but there was always a sense of desperation, frustration, and fear that perhaps I wasn’t doing enough. That was the problem with my checklist theology: sometimes my list remained unchecked…I was trying to satisfy the law I had in my head…[I was] unable to perform anymore, defeated from all the effort. Instead of facing the failure and allowing the law to show me my need for a Savior, I consoled my failure with new and improved intentions to prove myself by myself. And the cycle continued. (p70)
I desperately need to stop trying to put my success in my checklist. Keeping home from chaos is a major part of this new full-time job, but my identity doesn’t rest in my ability to do so. Good thing it also doesn’t rest in how fresh the fruit in the fruit bowl is.
You see, some days we are able to accomplish everything we set out to. Other days we just have to accept defeat. And, don’t forget, those babies won’t be babies forever. Some days you just need to snuggle them and kiss their squishy little cheeks. There will always be more cooking, cleaning, and laundry to be done.
New mom, lighten up on yourself. You don’t have to earn your husband (or anyone else’s) acceptance, no matter how strongly you feel you do. Rest easy knowing you’re the right mom and wife for you family and no one will ever remember you by how clean (or not) your house was. Love on your family and everything else will fall into place.