Dec 2, 2011  •  In Aerin, Claire, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

Letting Go of Control

Yesterday, I had noted that Aerin generally seems to be an easier baby than Claire.

I now have another theory as to why may be so: it’s because as second-time parents, we are much more relaxed about EVERYTHING. For example, for the first few months of Claire’s life we religiously tracked her every breath with the Baby ESP app. This time around? We haven’t used it, or anything similar to it, once.

Earlier this week, Jenn of Orange You Sweet wrote about giving up control as a first-time mother. The post really resonated with me, because with Claire, I had practically driven myself crazy — and even made myself physically ill several times — because I had refused to give up control. I wanted to raise the perfect baby while maintaining the perfect household and keeping my husband perfectly happy.

And when I couldn’t maintain control? I made myself feel like a failure.

But the thing is, once you have children you are bound to lose control over at least one aspect of your life. You are no longer solely responsible for just yourself — you are also in charge of an entire PERSON’s life. And as much as you want every little thing to go perfectly with your child’s life starting day one, things are bound to go wrong because hey, it’s life.

So this time around? Who cares if the house needs to be vacuumed? Who cares if the kitchen is a mess? Who cares if you haven’t brushed your teeth in 2 days and showered in 3?

…Okay, I still care. A little.

But the point I’m trying to make is that I force myself to forget these things when there are more pressing issues at hand, like when Aerin needs to be nursed. Or when Claire is throwing a tantrum. Or even when I want some cuddling time with the little ones, or if I want to nap an extra 5 minutes.

Because now, I look back to a year ago and ask myself what in the world I must have been thinking when I chose to go do the dishes rather than spend the time dozing off with little Claire in my arms.

And for that, Claire, mommy is truly sorry. But I am learning. And I promise to get better.

5 Responses to “Letting Go of Control”

  1. The advice I give to all new parents is: keep your expectations LOW. That includes your expectations for yourself, your baby, your partner, the cleanliness of your person, the cleanliness of your home, etc, etc. You don’t even splash water on your face till your partner gets home- who cares?! Spend all day in your PJs- so what?!

    In my daily life I’m pretty controlling. I’m a planner and not a procrastinator, but I think I had a pretty easy time being a new mom. There were some stressful times- what with so little sleep, C-section recovery and all. But generally I kept my expectations low.

    My motto was basically- keep calm, carry on.

    I don’t really relate to the moms (most of whom I encounter seem to have experiences similar to yours) who get all stressed out and can’t let other people step in. So many moms advised me to accept help, take it easy, etc. I thought to myself, “Uh, of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

    I was happy to accept help from friends and family. I readily handed my new baby off to whomever would take her so I could rest. I let my best friend clean my floors and address my baby announcements. I left my 2 week old with my mom to go out to dinner with my husband. I just didn’t stress and readily accepted help.

    It made things a lot easier it would seem. Now that I’m expecting #2, I am actively soliciting for help in that first month- letting my intimates know, right now, that I will need help 24/7 for the first 2 weeks- especially if I have to have another C-section. (The first go around I was home, by myself, during the day just 1 week after and I think all the up/down slowed my recover, and definitely increased my pain).

    I’m glad you and your family have found your groove and that this go around is easier than the last!

  2. Aw Jenny, I don’t have two yet, but I can imagine how you feel. I think about how I didn’t cuddle with Grayson enough, opting instead to do laundry or clean the kitchen, but I try to take comfort in the fact that parenting is a constant learning process. The more you know, the better you do.

    I know what you mean about trying to let go of control. With just one and I’m constantly trying to do it all, be it all, and there’s just no way. I try to remember to “finish each day and be done with it.” It’s helped me a bunch.

  3. I think this is a great observation that I have also experienced these last 3 or 4 weeks. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s really advice you can give to first-time parents or if they just have to live through it, you know? My husband said the easiest part of having baby #2 is that you’ve already given up/changed your life/been through the adjustment so this time around you don’t fight it all as much, you expect it to be hard & messy & different than what you might imagine.

    I have to say that Beckett seems easier for us too, but then again we’re only 3-4 weeks in and you know how they can change in a day – so I’m just enjoying every minute I can! :)

    Oh and do you think your confidence as a mother influences your perspective too? Like things *seemed* harder the 1st time around because you weren’t as confident & didn’t feel like you were doing as good of a job? That’s something I’ve noticed for me.

    • On the contrary, I think that I was too overconfident! I had babysat for infants, and had even nannied for a kid from the time he was only 3 months old to 1 year old. But I guess I just didn’t realize how hard it really can be when it’s your own child, let alone one with colic (all the babies I had watched before were fairly easy-going). I feel like I’m more humble this time around, like although I know what to do and expect, I should never consider myself an expert, that I should always be learning.

  4. Eve:

    Hi Jen,

    I’ve been skulking around this blog for the last month or so, reading your posts and deciding if I wanted to follow your blog or not. I’ve rarely posted, I think I’ve posted just one other time, because mostly – I have a pretty hard time relating to you. I’m someone who’s pretty laid back so oftentimes when I read your blog, it’s kind of a kick to see what makes someone with a different personality type tick. LOL. That’s one of the things I like the most about your blog.

    Anyway, I don’t have any kids but I did raise my three youngest siblings ever since they were infants – through illnesses, teething, potty training, the up’s and down’s – and this is the first time I’ve felt that we’ve really been on the same wavelength about raising kids. Good for you for letting some things go – life happens and all you can do is try your best. I know that my sisters, now that they’re older, remember me rocking them to sleep and singing them lullabies but hardly remember what I was wearing or if the house was clean. Your girls are healthy and adorable – what more could a mom want? Anyway, best to you and yours.

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