Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Sept. 24, 2008, but it puts into perspective why new motherhood can sometimes be hard to adjust to.
I’ve always liked to feel in control of my life. In my pre-baby days — back in the mists of time — I used to work full time in various office environments. My desk was always tidy, my in-tray cleared by every evening, my out-tray filed away neatly. Any outstanding work issues were jotted down in my diary at 16:45 so that my head was clear of work details, and when I walked out that door every evening, I left work behind me!
And then I became a stay-at-home mammy.
This job is 24/7. My desk is a mess and covered in unmatched baby socks — don’t ask!. There’s no in-tray, which I suppose that’s a good thing, as it would be overflowing. There is no out-tray, although also no need for one as no task ever gets completed. My work diary has been replaced by a meal planner and a wall calendar.
My new boss is…how can I put this…quite changeable in her outlook on life. I never know, each morning, whether we will be continuing the project we started yesterday — covering the patio in chalk drawings — or liaising with other bosses and their employees — toddlers & their mums — or lunching in exotic locations — the garden, the porch, the stairs — or indeed whether I will be given the opportunity to sit down for lunch at all.
Yes, this new job is much more complex than my previous positions, and it is almost impossible to feel as if I am in control day-to-day, because truth be told, I’m not!
It’s been a huge change for me, and to be honest, it’s been a bit hard to get my head around at times. One minute I’m managing projects, organizing schedules, socializing with workmates and in control of my life. The next, I’m holding this tiny helpless bundle who I love so completely yet have no idea how to communicate with.
It’s been a huge learning experience for me and coming up to Littlepixie’s second birthday, I only now feel that I’m starting to catch up with myself.
But I’m learning to accept that I don’t need to be in control of everything. Littlepixie has taught me that.
I am slowly learning to stop sweating the small stuff. There are some things I like to keep control of: For example, we have a sit-down dinner every evening. And there are some things I let go of: For example, our sit-down dinner may involve sitting on the floor at Littlepixie’s kitchen table.
I know many of our friends and family think our parenting style is too intensive, that long-term breastfeeding is too much work, that cosleeping robs myself & my husband of our marital bed, that carrying Littlepixie will make her clingy and break my back, that having our dinner at a child’s table is pandering to her needs and spoiling her, and so on.
But I think the fact that all of this feels so right to us has made this new job easier. We haven’t had to fight against our instincts. We are letting them lead the way.
So I suppose while my head is only just now starting to catch up, my heart has been in control the whole time!
3 thoughts on “Control or the lack thereof”
How lovely! I think that because our hearts have been in control, we won’t have many things to regret about our parenting styles.
Too intensive…as I spend time at dear mainstream parenting family & friends’ (would that be DMSPFF in internet speak? 😉 homes, and share the struggles we’ve been thru with our high-needs babe since birth. I sense that perhaps, it is me and not DS with the problem.
DMSPSFF wait somewhat impatiently as I work with DS to get us out the door rather than just picking him up, kicking and screaming, and stuffing him into his car seat. They watch with annoyance as I talk to him about not licking the tops of salt shakers in restaurants before gently removing it from his grasp, rather than ripping it out of his hands. Negotiating shopping cart seating (the last straw for one friend w/out kids who said “that’s it…there’s no way I could handle having kids”, dressing (bemused exclamations of “we have a streaker in the house”), etc.
Yes, it’s intensive. But, what a peaceful trip we’ve had so far!
I could relate to so much of this post! I really struggled with the loss of “control” when my daughter was born. I, too, am an obsessive planner/organizer. When she was just a few weeks old, I realized I couldn’t be exactly the same person I had been before becoming a mother, and I didn’t want to be. It was a real turning point for me. I have to make a conscious effort every day to let go of a lot of things (and it isn’t always successful). But I feel like I’m a much better – and happier – person for it.