It’s possible that this is about to get deeply personal. I’m just going to start writing and see what happens. I thought I would break down my personal and professional 2019 goals in one post, but I have a feeling this one is going to be long-winded. So, we’ll start with my personal New Year’s Resolution for 2019.
When I was younger, I was a list maker and a box checker. One memory, in particular, jumps out – we were given agendas in middle school by the administration and required to use them. Our teachers would check them every day to ensure that we were keeping track of homework and test dates. I loved an excuse to get organized, and to be graded on it. But I wanted to take things a step further. There was a section in the front of the agenda that broke down “key character traits,” like honesty, integrity, and citizenship. I carefully cut them out, pasted them onto construction paper, hole punched each one, and put them neatly into a binder with lined paper between each trait. I would check myself throughout the year and document whether or not I was showing growth in each trait.
In hindsight, I probably should’ve seen the school psychologist.
It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned to loosen up in a big way. I can’t put my finger on exactly what changed, but I’d like to think that I’ve found a nice balance between open-minded and fully clenched in my twenties. I’ve still held on to that goal setting mentality, though. And what better time to talk about that than on New Year’s Eve?
I read a blog post from Brighton The Day earlier in December about the pressure to feel joy around the holidays. Boy, did it resonate with me. I usually feel so let down around Christmas. I build up these fantasies in my head about decorating the house with tens of thousands of little lights. Watching Hallmark movies with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate. Making Christmas cookies with my mom…
But here we are, one week after Christmas. Hallmark movies are plotless piles of garbage. Hot chocolate gives me the shakes now, for some reason. Tanner and I put up precisely zero Christmas decorations on the outside of the house, and my mom and I are still lousy at baking. I set unrealistic expectations for myself that I already knew didn’t fit my reality, and I let myself down.
Getting bummed about the holidays not being a scene straight out of a Disney World commercial may sound trivial. But these unrealistic expectations aren’t exclusive to the end of the year. As of today, I am three weeks away from Annie Bryant’s due date. Ready or not, she is on her way. If I could only set one goal going into motherhood, it would be not to put any expectations on newborn life. After all, this pregnancy was less than expected.
I know, SHOCKING. Tanner and I weren’t not trying, per se. But let’s jump back to that argument for me being a case study for child psychology – I’m a nut job for hypotheticals. I had convinced myself that, like so many other women in the world, I would have trouble getting pregnant. There was something wrong with me, and whatever it was, it would make starting a family with the man I loved difficult. I didn’t need to think about whether or not we were ready for a baby. I already had it set in my mind that it wasn’t a probability for us.
As it turns out, we are both apparently very fertile people. I have had no complications thus far and (comparatively speaking) this has been what my OB called a “textbook pregnancy.”
I expected that getting pregnant would be difficult for me. And when it wasn’t, I projected all these new expectations on what my pregnancy should look like. What kind of job I should have, how much weight I should gain, what house we needed, what supplies were qualified to be used on our child. It’s all very normal, or so I’ve been told. But one thing has become abundantly clear over the last nine months. Nothing is like “they” said it would be. Every piece of advice, every bit of anecdotal evidence I received about everything from stretch marks to sex drive, I have experienced the opposite. The only appropriate piece of advice you can give a pregnant woman? Have absolutely no expectations.
So, with our firstborn coming into the world right smack in the beginning of the year, I can think of no better New Year’s Resolution for expectant moms: let go of your expectations.
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