A big point that came out of the discussions on habits and how to break bad ones was the notion of flexibility. The fact is, if you want to be happy and satisfied in life, you have to be comfortable with the idea that even if you have planned things to go one way, you don’t control everything and you might have to adjust.
Adjusting means recognizing new opportunities–ones you never could have foreseen–and having the courage to explore them. It means dealing with hardships and not letting them get the better of you. It means accepting unforeseen challenges and events as new adventures.
I got a reminder of that in a big way recently. When I first defined the self-styled life, a few readers commented that one of the most freeing, non-traditional decisions they made was not to have children. But as it happens, the Universe is pushing me in a different direction–into a different box, one that does include kids!
Yup, my husband and I are expecting a little one at the end of September! It was not part of our “plan” (what crazy people would quit their jobs, sell their house, move to a new city, open a new business and have a kid all at the same time?!), but now that the shock has mostly worn off, we are very excited.
But it was really a huge shock. We had begun to imagine what our lives might look like without children, though I think deep down we both knew that at some point we would. But the turmoil of the last few years–losing my sister, other family illnesses and feeling like we hadn’t quite gotten to a point we’d like to be professionally–had us putting off the notion of kids indefinitely. I mean, when I go to IKEA, I can spend hours in the kitchens and bedrooms, but I literally walk straight through the kid’s section. Babies were not on our mind.
So to find myself pregnant was … difficult. Certainly, my initial reaction wasn’t unequivocal joy. Then of course the nervousness, the regret, the uncertainty brought on a lot of guilt. So many couples are actively trying to get pregnant, and here I was not feeling overjoyed.
But I meditate on my mother’s advice that too many people our age are forever waiting for things to be “perfect” before starting a family. And the truth is–it will never be perfect and you’ll never feel completely prepared, even if a family is something you want. So I’m going with the advice that things have a way of working out, even if that way is unclear at the moment.
And now, with the reality sinking in and the support and enthusiasm of our family and friends, we are genuinely excited. In fact, I just might head to IKEA on my day off tomorrow to spend some time among the cribs and plush toys (the kid’s section is, after all, right near the food–so I can also enjoy the smell of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce while lingering over high chairs).
And I must say, it feels good to come clean with my readers. I feel like I’ve been sneaking around all this time! While neighbours have truly been keeping us up, and I probably have allowed myself to be more lazy than I could be, part of my challenge in keeping a schedule, finding motivation and writing regularly is also the fact that I’ve been growing a baby!
But there are a few disclaimers to go along with this post:
1. the self-styled life will NOT become a pregnancy/mommy blog. While there’s nothing wrong with these, that’s not what I started out to do here. I will, obviously, occasionally be talking about my pregnancy and baby, but I promise not to let these dominate!
2. (and more importantly) I realize that my baby ambivalence might make some people feel uncomfortable. After all, babies are a good thing, so the normal reaction to pregnancy and babies is that unequivocal joy. Moreover, many couples struggling with infertility or who have experienced painful losses would be overjoyed to be in my shoes. But the reality is that starting a family is a big deal, and scary, even for those who planned it. So I don’t want to sound insensitive, but I do want to be totally honest, as I’ve always tried to be here. I know I’m not alone in my feelings and I hope that my honesty might be helpful to other moms and dads-to-be who feel like us! But my honesty goes both ways, and when I say we are really excited, it’s the truth!
Thanks, if you’ve made it to the end of this very long post… (sorry ’bout that)
Any fun stories of unexpected events that changed your life?
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Congrats Jean on your upcoming bundle of joy! I’m sure you will make an awesome mom! 🙂
Congrats, cuz!! Yes, it is never the right time. Kirby made me understand that when I was pregnant with Liam. It is someone else’s plan, not mine! You’ll be a GREAT mum!
Congratulations, and all the very best of luck x
Well Jean, let me tell you that I completely understand the dichotomous feelings you are experiencing right now. When I found out that I was pregnant with Abby, I was one month into marriage and was just starting grad school in a new city with no family or friends yet. Holy crap, it was difficult. I too felt quite guilty for not being a happy expectant mommy. Here I was, healthy, MARRIED, financially sound….but man, it was not part of my plan at all!!! It really helped me to make some new mommy friends and spend time in that world. So, when can we come visit!! Haaa! No, spend time with babies…it will get your oxytocin going [=)] Finally, don’t worry if you’re not happy and excited all of the time…or most of the time. I truly believe that being a good parent is not about how you feel, but how you act on those feelings. Now, I’m not saying to feel like crap, but act extatic…DO NOT DO THIS! Feel like crap for a bit…accept it, and then find ways to get yourself motivated to be genuinely positive. Happiness is a choice! Now, I’m going to go brush my teeth and smile dammit!!!
Hi Karen–thanks so much for sharing your own experience. That sounds like it was definitely a big challenge for you guys as well. You are more than welcome to visit any time! And yes, I’m lucky to have a few friends here in Toronto who have recently had babies–so I can get some quality baby time in! I totally agree about happiness being a choice–one we have to make regularly, but as long as you know this I think that gives you a lot of power!
“I mean, how could you not be excited when you see this?!” Exactly. Sooo excited for you. Soon so very soon, it will be hard to remember life without him/her. Your parents must be giggling with delight. Daughter #2 is expecting in September, also. What fun to think of you all as well as she carries our second grandchild. She finds out the Wednesday before Easter, if it’s a girl or boy…and yes, they want to know. Thank you for sharing your news.
Thanks, Georgette! Yes, my parents and in-laws are SO excited! It’s awesome. That’s so cool that your daughter is also expecting in September! We are not going to find out the sex–we figured we might as well keep the whole surprise theme going! Congrats to you and your family as well 🙂
How’s it going? You have been in my thoughts as daughter #2 goes into her last month and her dr. visits are now a week apart.
What a wonderful post! I’m so happy for you both and as Oprah said, “Shift happens” so you’ll adjust. Just as you did to your new business, your new place and everything else that has happened upto now in your lives. Everything will work out one way or another and you have a great support system. Nothing like a little challenge 🙂 And your comment under the picture is priceless!
Thanks, Irina! Do you do baby photo sessions? 😉
HOORAY! What happy exciting news! And while having kids IS a spin out, and challenge, and sometimes has you banging your head against the wall and wondering how you could have possibly CHOSEN to do this, it is also the most amazing, surprising and all round enjoyable thing we’ve ever done. Enjoy the ride! Hugs to you both xx
Thanks, Erinn! Haha yes, from what I hear it seems the head-bang headache is totally worth it! Another pen pal–in Australia! 🙂
Congratulations on your news! God has his own plans sometimes which don’t seem to fit the pattern at the time but remember, God only gives you what he knows you can handle. Glad that your thoughts have turned around and I am sure that over the next few months, especially once you feel the baby move, you will have no doubts about wanting this child. Doubting things in life is an automatic response because it is something you did not plan. Surprise!!!!! Enjoy!!!! Love and record these memories so you can share them all with your child one day. Yahoo! I will a “great aunt” again. lol All the best and have fun looking in the baby department.
Yes, I heard the heartbeat today which was pretty awesome! Haha, you’re a wonderful aunt now so I don’t doubt your Great Aunt skills either! Thanks for your thoughts 🙂
Wish you could record the heartbeat so we all could hear it. Yahoo! Bet that was an exhilarating moment. Love to hear these little things.
Yeah!!!! So happy. For us, it is Highs, lows, and being I love in an entirely new and incredibly beautiful way. Xoxoxoxoxoxo
Thanks, Em! You and Dave are great parent-inspiration, from what I’ve seen! And I’m excited for our little one to have an Ottawa pen pal!
Awesome! Very happy for you! Don’t feel guilty that joy seems to be in the minority of your emotions… that is the way of it sometimes. I have no doubt the joy will win out in the long run.
Haha yes–I believe we’ll have one of those “best mistakes EVER” stories 😉