Thursday, August 02, 2007

the new normal

When we became parents, I discovered and adopted a few very helpful perspectives:

1. Change is constant. There's always something new to learn or adjust to. True, I'll never again be a novice at changing a poopy diaper in a public place or figuring out the top ten uses for My Brest Friend. But as this baby grows, she changes, and my parenting techniques have to change with her. What worked yesterday to soothe, entertain or distract her might not work today. Remembering this keeps me on my toes instead of feeling constantly inadequate!

2. The little person isn't going away. Funny and true. There's no going back to how it was. Letting go of how things were and embracing how things are made it much easier to live in the present. So instead of resenting what I couldn't do (head out with Derek to a spur of the moment movie, or take a five hour road trip without stopping more than once or twice), I figured out what I could do for now (do things with the baby; accept that it's going to be a seven hour road trip). And I remembered to be grateful because in a few years, P will be participating in family life as a talking, walking person. Interacting in English! I can't wait.

3. The "new normal" applies to my body-- and my vacation, my meals, my life. When I realized that how my body feels isn't "back to normal" but the "new normal"-- that is, that I'd never feel quite like I did pre-baby, it was a lot easier to settle into life.

But we recently got back from vacation, and let me tell you, there were more than a couple times during it that I felt "This is vacation? But I'm still working hard watching this baby..." And that was a struggle. Then I realized that vacation with a nursing baby meant that I probably wasn't going to be lying on a beach chair with my umbrella drink. But hey, what a narrow view of vacation anyway, right?!! (she writes as she longs for an umbrella drink!)

But don't despair!! Being with baby doesn't mean we have to limit ourselves. We got to enjoy new places and experiences, like hiking in the Roosevelt National Forest; tooling around fabulous Pearl Street in Boulder, the Flatirons in the distance; driving up the highest elevation road in the lower 48- totally epic. Letting go of the beach chair vision made it easier to enjoy the trip.

I guess all this is to say, the Buddhists had it right when they said (approximately and much more eloquently) that letting go of expectations helps relieve one of suffering. Being present in the moment and releasing all longing to be someone or somewhere else, and being grateful for (and even proud of) who and where I am right now, is the best way I know to not only be a happy mother but a happy person in general.

And for your further reading pleasure, I give you MojoMom! Go and start taking care of YOU!