Family life

I give myself permission

Perfectionist Katie comes to the realization that life with a new baby means her expectations have to change, and that's OK

By Katie Dupuis
I give myself permission

If you happened to be driving down a major Toronto street this past Saturday at 4 a.m. and you saw a girl pushing a stroller and crying, that was me. Yeah, you read that right. I was crying, not the baby. We had tried everything — the never-fails car ride; the feeding her to sleep (desperate times call for desperate measures); the promising to buy her a car when she turned 16 if she stopped crying. All epic fails. The only thing that worked was fresh air. So, if you'd seen me, I was looking at my sleeping child, knowing that as soon as I brought her in the house it would start again, thinking "Whose batsh*t crazy idea was this?" (Yes, I know I stole the line from Crazy Stupid Love, but it's just so appropriate.)
I shouldn't have been surprised when the waterworks started, but I was. And it all comes down to my ridiculous tendency toward perfectionism. I know that deep in my subconscious, I believe that my 8-week-old should be sleeping in her crib, all night every night. That two months is enough time to get our routine down. That if I don't have it figured out yet, I must be doing something wrong. Logically I know how nuts that is, but I'm Type A, baby. And of course, I don't have a Type A baby because such a thing doesn't exist.
But then something happened, in the still of this very quiet night, as I made my way up the street for the ninth or tenth time. Somewhere in there, I thought "OK, but she's sleeping right now. And that's something." So I gave myself, or rather that niggling little perfectionist inside me (you know she has impeccable hair and makeup, always wears heels and is never too tired to cook), permission to revel in that. And as I thought about it, the list of things I would try to forgive myself grew longer. I'm sure it isn't as easy as this, to break a lifetime's worth of perfectionism, but it's worth a shot. If nothing else, it serves as a good reminder that I'm not superwoman.

I give myself permission to miss going to the movies. It's selfish, I know, but I used to go to a Tuesday night cheapie or a Saturday matinee, all alone, to decompress. I tried to go to Stars and Strollers once but a seriously dirty diaper in the middle of the flick required a hasty exit.

I give myself permission to dream about a tidy house but to try to embrace the chaos. I'm a neat freak (go figure), so the clutter that's starting to amass in every corner of our apartment has been making me squirm. I'll do what I can with it and turn a blind eye. For now.

I give myself permission to dread writing thank you cards. I want to want to, I really do, but I just don't know where I'm ever going to find the time to write thoughtful notes to the friends and family that have welcomed Sophie so generously. I'll get to them, I promise, but I'm worried it won't be until Soph is 2. Or 12.

I give myself permission to miss being pregnant. I didn't expect that, in the slightest, but I miss both the physical connection and the excitement in the anticipation. Weird, maybe, but it's there and I am just going to let it be there.

I give myself permission to figure stuff as we go, without expecting to know everything. And with that, I give myself permission to ask for help when I need it and to stand up for myself when I don't.
I give myself permission to be anxious but to not let the anxiety consume me
Mostly, though, I give myself permission to think "This is batsh*t crazy" from time to time — and definitely at 4 a.m. while I walk around the block a million times with my crying kid. It doesn't mean I'm not grateful or more in love with Sophie every day. It just means that I'm human.

This article was originally published on Jan 12, 2012

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