A few years ago I found this quote:
"If you expect perfection or nothing from human relationships, you will get nothing every time."
Being a perfectionist and somewhat of a control freak, I have always struggled with having too high a standard for others and expecting way too much from everything - friends, family, myself and life in general. So I found this statement very helpful in that it enabled me to put all my relationship struggles in perspective...family interactions, friendships, my marriage.
But for some reason, I have not applied this realization to my relationship with my child. Instead, I have spent the last 5 months expecting a tiny little baby to sleep on command, be hungry when I expected him to be hungry, play when I felt like playing and be content to entertain himself when I had other things to do. Now this may sound absurd but it's true - I really did expect these things to happen. I wanted to be in total control of this new parenting thing.
So yesterday, I had a "bad" day - Charlie wanted to eat more often than usual and that got in the way of my job, my cleaning schedule, my workout plans and the music class that we are doing together. I was highly inconvenienced by his larger than usual appetite and complained to Ryan about how "hard" my day had been. [Side note: last night was one of those RARE occasions in which I get to go somewhere ALONE. I went to a very WASPy dessert meeting for the MCG Women's Auxiliary (basically the wives club at MCG) and kids were not invited. So I slipped out for a brief 1.5 hours of glorious alone time, leaving Ryan in charge of Camp Moody.] So back to my day: as I was driving to this dessert party, IT hit me: what do I expect from Charlie? Whatever it is, it's WAY too much. And that is not fair to him, Ryan or myself. The kid sleeps 11 hours straight at night and takes like 3 or 4 naps during the day. What do I have to complain about? So he is hungry from sleeping so long! Big deal, Emily - let 'em eat as much as he wants to because those 11 straight hours of blessed sleep and peace are SO worth it. And then I started realizing that that this truth applied across the board to parenthood - Charlie and our other future children will not come into the world knowing what to do and they are little sinners. It will be up to us to patiently love and parent them with appropriate expectations. And I know that I didn't come up with this on my own - God is totally using Charlie to change me and for that I am thankful.
So yes, I grew up a little bit more last night during that brief 10-minute drive. I felt TOTALLY different when I came home to my crying child. I felt more patient, much happier and much, much more at peace. I'm sure I'll forget this again (likely later on today) but for now, things are much quieter inside my heart and my head and I feel ready for today...and tomorrow...and the next day.
And I also realized that I DESPERATELY need some time to myself, time to distance myself from all the demands of my job, family, dogs, etc and just be still. I turned off the radio, just thinking and praying during that 10-minute drive and it refreshed my soul more than any other period of time since Charlie was born. My friend Marlo posted this verse on her blog earlier this week and it spoke to me then and again this morning:
Is. 30: 15 - For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,"In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength."