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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Parenting 101: everything doesn't go as planned

So often we realize as parents that we do not have control over things in life. I imagine we all think we do, that we have the power to control certain aspects of parenting, that we later learn we were fools to think we could plan.

So many times in the Mommy Stories Facebook group moms ask "When is the best time to space out your children and pregnancies? How many years apart will be good?" It's not a dumb question. No question is, especially in parenting. I have asked this question myself in the past.

But this year I've realized that we can't totally plan these things so perhaps sometimes it's better to have the answers as guides rather than formal plans. 

Last summer my husband and I felt ready to try for a third child.
We got pregnant on the first try. Wow! Amazing! Lucky! Blessed! Perfect! Meant to be! All of these words went through my mind as I saw the plus positive sign on the pregnancy test.

We'd be due at the end of May. Perfect timing for someone working in a school! How'd we do that?! (last babies were February and April, when we had "tried" for summer). I'd barely have to use any maternity leave, we wouldn't go broke like the last pregnancy, and I'd be home all summer with three little ones. Perfect perfect perfect.

I was in the best shape ever. I'd run 7 days a week for several months. I was physically super strong, mentally prepared for this change in my body and life, and emotionally SO happy.

Even the clothing would have been perfect seasons, we wouldn't have to get much new because it would just work out.

Everything was awesome, as they say in Lego Land.

And then... we had a miscarriage. It was surprising, disappointing, and heartbreaking. But most of all, it wasn't planned. We had no control over it. And it messed up everything that I'd imagined to be perfectly planned out.

What I learned from that miscarriage experience is that we CAN'T plan everything. I'm a planner, control freak, type A person so this doesn't sit well with me. I LIKE to plan. I need to plan. It makes me feel good when things are chaotic. So this situation kinda set me back a bit. I had to reassess.

We took a few months to process, grieve and heal. And then we were pregnant again, blessed again.

And I realized something once more: It DOESN'T have to be perfect. It does not have to be planned out every step of the way. Sometimes things just happen and we have no control over them, nor do we have answers as to why they're happening. Nobody could tell me why our miscarriage happened at that moment, to me, to us, and why then. And I've come to accept it as being OK.

Sometimes we have to realize it's OK to not have answers, to not know every single thing that will happen. That's part of the fun in life. Sometimes we're surprised and blessed beyond what we could have been had we stalled in the negative space instead of moving to something more hopeful and positive. Sometimes we have to let go.

My kids have a saying from preschool, "We get what we get and we don't get upset." I love it. I've been saying it in my head a lot. We accept things. We embrace the possibilities.

With this pregnancy, that I'm so grateful for, things have been "all wrong" at moments. It has not worked out smoothly and perfectly. The timing: I'll be due in October, which for a school personnel is not ideal time of year. I'll take more maternity leave this time. The season is totally off from our kids' clothing so we'll need to get more at some point. I wasn't as in shape as I'd been last summer when we'd tried the first time. I couldn't work out after the miscarriage for like a month, which set me back and I just didn't resume my regular workouts like I'd done before because I had enough to deal with.

Things were off, not on a straight and narrow path.

And yet, here we are, almost 4 months later, BLESSED with another one on the way.

And I've realized it's just as it should be, meant to be, 
perfectly imperfect. 

When we had my second child, I termed that time in our lives a "beautiful chaos." It's the perfect way to describe having a second one in the home. It's amazing and yet crazy at once. That's how I feel again now with our third on the way, post miscarriage ups and downs and emotions, nothing as we'd planned.

Our pregnancy announcement... well, this was one of those things that did NOT go as planned.

I started searching for announcement ideas early on in the pregnancy. Part of what was so upsetting the last time with the miscarriage was that we didn't get that joyful feeling of announcing before it was over. So this time I really wanted something special to share our news.

I built up this idea in my mind from Pinterest and other Google Images and sites. I imagined bicycles, my husband and I staring at each other happily, kids smiling and totally doing what we asked, and a baby bike at the end with a teddy bear on it to signify a baby was on its way. A big open field. I wanted a field with sunshine.

I pictured this amazing moment that was blissful and peaceful and that would solidify this pregnancy into being something secure and strong and withstanding.

Life as a mother doesn't go as planned. Right?!

So... my husband was working a lot and the weather was cooler than we had hoped for and I couldn't pick a big field that would work and we didn't want to tell anyone to take the picture for us since we were not ready to announce just yet and and and and....

So one day I decided I was tired of waiting. I needed this part of my process to be happening, so I could feel confident about this pregnancy after miscarriage.

So I got the kids to wear at least part of the outfits I'd wanted them to wear and then let them take over. My son didn't want to participate so I let him coordinate our event... so it was a wagon instead of bikes. And it was a white board instead of cute chalk boards I'd envisioned. And my husband wasn't there and I wasn't in it.

It is what it is.
I let it be.

And it worked out fine.
It wasn't this perfect image I'd imagined.
We had some arguments. My husband wished it looked a little different.
I was emotional about it wondering if anyone would understand it.

It was ridiculous!

In the end, a zillion people liked it and loved us and sent us congratulations.
And our news was out there and perfectly chaotic and wonderful just the way it was.

So here's the thing, moms: You CAN'T predict everything. You can think you have a perfect timing in your mind, only to get pregnant sooner or to unfortunately go through months and months of trying that you could not have imagined happening to you.

There is no perfect timing. Truly.

Yes, it's great to have an idea of what would work for your family and to feel slightly financially and emotionally stable enough to do this, as well as physically ready to handle all that pregnancy brings to you.

But you CAN'T plan every little detail. Sometimes our plans don't happen as we imagine. Sometimes there are bigger lessons to learn and something greater working around us for reasons we can't begin to understand. 

So when you imagine spacing your kids out 1, 2, 3, etc. years or planning on trying in May to get a winter baby or trying in the fall to get a summer baby so you have nice weather... it's great to try to plan, but then it's important to realize it's OK when things don't go as you plan.

Something better may happen soon for you. Just wait and see.

This is parenting after all. Be ready for a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, fun and busy.

It's beautiful chaos.
And that's just perfect.

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