Gone Coastal

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Don't miss the point

This past Mother's Day was my first as a full-fledged mamma, and I naturally found myself looking back over the last eight months. In reflecting on how my life has changed and the things I've learned, one common thread was how often already we've needed to revise our plans for the ideal child-bearing and raising experience. It has come up in conversation with other moms as well, so I thought I'd put forth my thoughts on handling those changes for this week's Works for me Wednesday.
We all want to do the very best we can for these young lives in our care, and the lists of shoulds and ought tos start coming at us long before they're even born. They come from health care professionals, churches, media, advertisements, and just about every person we encounter. We did a lot of filtering, weighing all these lists against our own values and experiences to form our own plan. And then Tweetie arrived and brought her own reality. We've since had to revisit our ideas on breastfeeding, health management, development, boundaries and more.
A mom friend recently commented to me that I'm pretty laid back about all these changes, wondering how it is that I don't flip out like the other new moms. My response first had to include a confession. I do flip out, I just tend to do it quietly at home. And I pray a lot for peace and perspective. But from a strictly practical perspective, there's one thing that's helped a lot, especially when it comes to that all too common sense of failure.
When circumstances dictate that my plan or ideal can't be followed as I'd envisioned, I try hard to look at the big picture, especially the values and objectives behind the plan. What were the reasons we originally set this goal? Is the plan achieving what I'd wanted? Is the actual cost of following this plan - in time, money or impact on other objectives - in line with the value we put on this goal? Is there a change I can make that better serves all the values that our plans were based on? Sometimes one ideal gives way for something bigger. Sometimes we just find that we weren't so smart when we first thought of a given plan.
I've asked myself what were the reasons that I wanted to breastfeed Tweetie? How does continuing to nurse and pump meet that goal? Does the benefit of continuing outweigh the cost to other objectives, like spending time just playing with Tweetie? The inevitable answer was no, and while I'm still a little disappointed I know I made the right decision to switch her to formula. Later I asked what is my objective in starting early pottying? Am I still getting that benefit if we don't catch every pee or poop? Since reducing diapers and early 'graduation' were merely happy sidebars for me, it's been easy to relax and not worry if we have an off day in our communication (lots of those come with sickness or teething) or if other schedule needs mean I can't respond when I otherwise would (like when we're driving three hours to Calgary to catch a 2 hour flight home).
There are many big decisions and plans ahead of us in the years to come, and I expect I'll have to send myself back to read my own post a time or two. All I can suggest to you is to remember why you were trying to go down a given road in the first place, and make sure you don't miss the point. It usually works for me.

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