When my daughter, Quinnlin was diagnosed with recessive polycystic kidney disease at two days old and her brother received his diagnosis just three months later I entered into a time I lovingly refer to as “The Fog.”
For at least 6 months to a year I went on autopilot for work, housekeeping, family feeding and self care. Managing the kids’ new needs (like several weekly doctor visits, 15 therapy appointments between the two, filing for state funding because of their disabilities) and just keeping everyone else scheduled was taking all my attention and energy.
I was working for a check for myself at the time as well. Luckily a home office afforded me the luxury of nursing full-time, taking them to all of their doctor appointments and being present for nearly all of their therapy appointments but the other stuff? Taking care of everything else? Impossible for one person. Impossible for one couple really, or at least impossible to do it all well.
I relied on my family and friends to help out. During “The Fog” my father would pick up our laundry weekly and would return it to me after my mother would lovingly fluff and fold it. A friend would get our grocery list weekly for the fill in trip for the basics. Other friends would simply attend a doctor appointment with me to wrangle one of the kids so I could listen and talk and think during our numerous visits.
During that time I had to learn to let go of a lot. Given that other people were helping me, I couldn’t really expect them to do it exactly the same way I had, could I? No. I started letting some of my expectations go. A normally organized home became less organized. Something I would have never considered and seems simple was a great help; we ate on paper plates for over 2 years. Our dinners became more simple; happy to have soup and crackers or sandwiches (my husband will still tell you sandwiches are not his favorite dinner!). My sheets weren’t changed weekly and the home wasn’t spotless.
But you know what? It was okay. When I lowered the expectations I lowered my stress. Letting go of those things prepared me for letting go of more personal, tough things to let go of; like milestones that my babies didn’t meet, like the way my husband did something that didn’t meet up with my expectations. It was freeing; lowering expectations. It wasn’t always easy and I sometimes need to remind myself to keep the expectations low but the lowering was empowering.
It meant that I could let go of my own expectations of the kind of family I wanted to create and the kind of mother I wanted to be. As we move into June and celebrating Father’s Day, I’m reminded that the lowering of expectations all around was a great thing for my kids, my family life, my relationship with my husband and most importantly myself.
I don’t have to be Super Mom, I just have to be Okay Mom.
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