If you want to know what kind of day I’m having, you need ask only one simple question: Has the baby napped?
If yes, then I’m having a glorious day, abounding in productivity and sprinkled with sunshine and rainbows.
If no, then I’m having a frustrating day, thick with clouds and whining. Of course, it goes without saying that I’m not getting anything done with a cranky toddler grasping my knees, so you might as well expect leftovers for dinner, because who can cook with Her High Grumpiness at the helm?
At least, that’s how it used to be. But after months of living at the whim of a baby, I decided to take back control.
I acknowledged I couldn’t control Teyla’s sleep – but I could control my attitude. I decided to make peace with my inefficient life and forget about having a chunk of “me” time each afternoon. I downsized my To Do list. I slowly learned to expect less from my day and much, much less from myself. And with my attitude thusly adjusted, I found life to be joyful again. When the baby woke up after another 20-minute nap, I would sigh, shelve the frustration and resolve to enjoy the baby.
Behold, the power of expectations.
When Corey and I were newly married, most of our fights would end on the battlefield of expectations. Seems I had them for our relationship, and I held him responsible for meeting them. Problem was, I never communicated them. Or so he claimed. My response tended to be: How can I communicate something that is so ingrained I don’t even know it’s there? My expectations only materialize to me when they aren’t met.
Still, it’s not a fair thing to do to another person, expect them to meet an expectation you can’t even verbalize. Ever since, I’ve tried to do a lot of introspection when I get frustrated or hurt or angry. Is it truly someone else? Or are my expectations slightly out of whack?
Thankfully, I had a few years to practice this before we had kids. It’s proven invaluable in parenting. Thus, when the baby makes it a practice to avoid taking naps, I try to adjust my expectations and hopefully, reap a happier mental state.
But darn it if those initial expectations don’t just keep coming back. Which is why I was annoyed this weekend when Teyla didn’t nap, even though she’d only been consistently taking real naps – which are defined by baby sleep experts as naps that are at least an hour in length; any less, and the baby’s brain doesn’t have time to reboot and renew – for a week. A week! And already my expectations about what my life should look like have reformed.
This parenting stuff. It’s hard work. Especially when the baby doesn’t nap.
I’d love to write more, but my husband’s home, and he expects dinner.
Kelly always expects to blog daily at her personal blog Love Well. But if the baby doens't nap, she expects to put the writing off for a day or two.