The Joy of Low Expectations

When you’re expecting a baby there are three kinds of events:

  1. Those things that you know to expect. When you have a baby there are a lot of things that you expect (heck there’s a series of well-regarded baby manuals based on this premise).
  2. Things that if you thought about it you would have expected
  3. Totally completely and literally unexpected stuff (for example picking someone else’s nose can be strangely satisfying and not at all gross).

It’s the middle category I’d like to explore. Specifically the realisation that that after you’ve had a baby (or two) your time is not your own.

No.

More than that time itself takes on a completely different quality. So, whereas my life used to kind of flow punctuated by big events like holidays or job changes, now after babies the days are incredibly short, the minutes are eternities, and change is so constant that you just give up trying to keep up.

Before we had the twins I seriously thought that I would be able to maintain a blog, probably do some work developing Urbanistas, and also keep abreast of policy developments for work.

While I’ve managed to maintain a daily update for loyal twinpocalypse fans (hi Mom!!) and also keep in touch on Urbanistas (though not do much), and I am clear that major shifts have taken place in housing policy (thanks to twitter) … I’m falling far short of my expectations on this blog.

In part I think it’s because the long form that I’ve been doing requires not just writing, but editing, and not just coming up with ideas but the headspace to develop the themes and then add a sprinkling of hilarity. Worth noting comedy and sleep deprivation are not as mutually reinforcing as you might think.

It’s been four months since I had the twins and I can see the end of my time with them rapidly approaching. There are so many things that I want to capture about this experience, and how it has changed not only my life, but also my perception of other things. So in an effort to do that I am going to (gulp) lower my expectations.

This does not come easily to me. Far from it. Without meaning to I expect a lot of myself and tend to get very upset when I don’t meet those expectations. Some of this is coloured by what I see other people doing, whether that’s in person or via a blog. This pretty much continuous disappointment with myself isn’t healthy. It’s not one of the things about myself that I would like the twins to pick up on.

In contrast to pretty much every aspect of my life I have pretty low expectations of parenthood, and indeed low expectations of the babies. As a consequence I am absolutely delighted with everything they do. If they smile I’m over joyed. It’s not a problem that other babies we know are rolling over, frankly ours can stay a little behind the mobility curve.

The reason my expectations are so low is, I think, that I didn’t expect to be a parent in the first place. I’ve not mapped this out in my head. I don’t know what’s next, and frankly I’m too busy / tired to try and think too far ahead. Just getting from one feed to the next without a total melt down (mine or theirs) is a complete success.

The twins are watching us now with a marked shift in concentration. This morning Margot seemed obsessed with the way I drank my coffee, following the cup from table to mouth and back again. I don’t mind so much if she picks up my caffeine addition. But… if she picks up my need to be good at everything. I know it’s probably a lost cause. Either she and Isaac will be contented little people, or they won’t. My parents never asked anything of me other than to do my best. It was only for me that my best wasn’t and isn’t good enough. That’s just part of being me.

So as a result of all this maudlin introspection, which has largely taken place on endless looping walks around Finsbury Park, I will not be precious about this blog. Gone are the days of re-writes and over thinking… welcome to more frequent, less funny, typotastic blogs!

 

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