Today marks the two year anniversary of Charlotte’s due date. We all know she was still happily sitting “high as a kite” (my doctor’s words) in my belly for another nine days, but this day still holds enough significance for me to remember and reflect upon it. Perhaps after more years and more children, this will change, but for now, I’m happy to still consider it one of the more significant dates in my life. Even though nothing happened on November 28, 2010, I was thinking about that day round the clock for a solid eight months beforehand. That’s worth something.
Due dates are pretty silly, actually, and so very arbitrary. And yet, even knowing my baby was only going to come when she was ready, I clung to that date like it really meant something. I had great expectations for November 28th.
There are a lot of expectations involved in parenting. Expectations for yourself as a parent, expectations for your baby (then child, then teenager, then adult), expectations for your spouse, expectations for your friendships, social life, sleeping habits, career, appearance, etc., etc, etc. So many dang expectations.
This is what I’ve been thinking about today: What were my expectations for all of “this” before all of “this” happened? Before November 28th, before December 7th? Have my expectations been met? Have they been exceeded? Have they been forgotten?
I suppose my short answer would have to be yes, to all of them….and no, to all of them…and well, kinda, to all of them again.
My expectations of Chris as a father have far been exceeded. All of them. He is her playmate, her teacher, her protector, and even her own horse whenever she asks for a ride on his back. He is even more amazing than I could have imagined. And not just as a father to a daughter, but as a husband of his child’s mother. I didn’t/couldn’t understand this before we had Charlotte, but the relationship between a husband and wife transforms when a child enters the picture. There are differences now that Chris is not only my husband, but Charlotte’s daddy. We now share someone who will keep us bound together forever (whether we like it or not. ha!), and I don’t think I could have expected that to be so powerful.
As for Charlotte, there is no way I could have expected her to be so awesome! I knew I would love her. I knew I would think she’s the cutest/smartest/most talented/perfect child to ever grace this planet. But my picture of what she’d really be like was pretty much blank. I used to find it so strange to think that I was growing and carrying this life inside me for so many months and yet I didn’t even know what she looked like. When she was born, I was totally shocked by her appearance not because I expected her to look differently, but because I didn’t have any expectations for that at all. Dare I say that she did turn out mighty cute?
And all her little Charlotte-isms; her lovelovelove of horses, the little hand motions she makes when she’s excited, her quirky Charlish language, her distaste for wearing shirts, her impeccable pitch and love of all types of music. I never ever ever could have expected any of that. Witnessing Charlotte’s personality and all her idiosyncrasies unfold before our eyes over the past two years has to be the greatest joy of parenting.
As for me and my mothering, well, everyone is their own toughest critic. The expectations I set for myself have always been based off what I like to call the real version of Katy. The healthy, more carefree and positive version of myself who loved to get outside, go out, and laugh really loudly in public places. This version of me would probably be a more fun mom than the one Charlotte gets right now. I’ve spent a lot of this year cooped up in the house and plenty of time feeling sorry for myself a la Debbie Downer. It’s really easy to beat myself up about all the things I could be doing better.
But there are moments when I’m really proud of myself, too. Like how I handle the tantrums. I rock at handling the tantrums, even the very public tantrums. I don’t flinch. I don’t give in. I can let it go like nothing’s even happening. And I’m not even that embarrassed about them, somehow.
Actually, I’m surprised to say that between Chris and I, I’m the (ever-so-slightly) more patient one when it comes to Charlotte. I don’t know how this happened because Chris is more patient than I am in every other possible way (ever), but I’m usually the one who can hold it together longer when it comes to excessive crying, throwing fits, and the typical baby and toddler antics.* It must be my experience as a 7th grade teacher, which has truly prepared me for every weird and/or annoying thing a child can ever do/say/think in the world.
Oh, and I’m good at giving her kisses. I knew I’d be good at that. But then, who isn’t? How can anyone resist this lil’ pucker?
And another thing – all that love. Whoa. I love her so much it can bring me to tears. You can’t know it until you feel it, but when you do, it blows you away. It totally exceeds all expectations, no matter how grand they may have been. Okay, that’s the greatest joy of parenting.
*This is not to say that Chris is impatient with Charlotte – he is certainly not that. I just happen to be one milometer more patient with her than he is, which means I’m going to brag about it here.