Sunday, March 13, 2011

Expecting the Unexpected (And Unexpecting the Expected)

Kids are unpredictable little buggers. They have more emotional and mental juke moves than imaginable. Working around the daily surprises keeps life interesting.

Sitting on my butt for 8 months, cooking these little wonders, I had a lot of time to plan. I planned how a day in the life would go. I planned when bedtime would be, what they would eat for meals, what adorable outfits they would wear, who would be with us at the births, who would help us in the first years. But babies don't care about plans. The better planned out an idea was, the more atrociously awry it went.

The unexpected started at the beginning. Triplets were about as unexpected as it gets. I really hadn't imagined it was possible. Twins, possibly. But three? Huh-uh.

As I've mentioned before, the pregnancies were ugly. They were the Murphy's Law pregnancies. We tried to be flexible and roll with the punches. But at the end, when Cassie and I were both on bedrest--alone and terrified, we got a taste of what was to come.

I "expected" to be able to do this on our own. I thought, "yeah, it'll be hard. But we can take care of three infants/toddlers/kids by ourselves." It may be legal for one person to care for three infants, but it isn't very safe, and it certainly isn't the most attentive of environments. We needed a lot of help.

I "expected" my kids to sleep through the night at 4 months. Even typing this, I'm actually giggling out loud. We have yet to experience a night where all three kids slept 8+ hours without requiring a bottle, rocking, binkie, or some other sort of interaction. Now admittedly, they sleep a lot more than they used to, and we can expect large chunks of rest that, even 4 months ago, were rare. But my expectation was blown out of the water by a painful, sleepless reality.

I "expected" we'd have more company than we could handle, and I "expected" I knew who the majority of visitors would be. I've always thought myself a good judge of human behavior. But I admit, I was astounded by the people who came through for us (and, to be perfectly honest, the people who were obviously absent) through the first year. Cassie's co-workers provided delicious meals and bags of groceries while we were on bedrest. My wonderful brother, who had four school-age kids of his own, came out while we were pregnant and completed a "honey-do" list as long as my arm. When the first round o' kids came, his amazing wife came to town. She stayed at our freezing little cabin with questionable cable and very little phone service. She tidied and readied it. She washed all the kids' bedding and clothing. She picked up our dogs from the kennel and took great care of them. Then when I was released from the hospital, she came and helped me with the twins while Cassie was in the hospital with Drew. She moved all of our stuff from the cabin to the Tree House, from the Tree House to a friend's house, from that friend's house to another friend's house, and then back to the cabin. She was our hero. It is quite possible that one or more of us would not have survived without her help. And her kids and husband were so patient to let us borrow her for such a long time. We also had wonderful help from Danielle and Cassie's mom and sister in those first few weeks of settling in. They really came through for us in big, unimaginable ways. And, of course, Nanny/Auntie Cathy has been invaluable. Without her, we really could not have done it. Not sure what we would've done. Go on welfare so Cassie could stay home? Sell drugs? Not sure, but I am not exaggerating when I say, we could not have done the last year without her.

I get melancholy reading my family and friends' Facebook statuses which say, "Had a great dinner with three generations of family!" or "Thanks so much to so-and-so who stayed with my kids so we could go out on our weekly date!" or "Had my brother and his kids over for movies and popcorn!" I so wish I was geographically close to friends and family. Our friends in Seattle and Tacoma like to remind us that we live "SO far away!!". So, for the most part, folks aren't likely to make the hour long trip to visit. I understand. We all have busy lives. Oh, but how I CRAVE adult conversations, changes of human scenery, and diverse energies in the house. A friend from Billings visited this month and it was heaven! It was just so refreshing to have someone new around. The kids were happier, they slept better, and so did moms!

Our kids love meeting new people, but without a lot of help and planning, it's very difficult to take the whole posse out. If Drew doesn't need a nap, then Dev just fell asleep. If Delaney is feeling well, then Drew is catching a cold. So we have no choice but to rely on people to come to us. But, sadly, the novelty of us wore off quickly. And now, I am forced to turn to Sesame Street for company.

Damn, lovable little Elmo!

I can't blame folks for not being more involved. Truth is, I had no idea what the reality of triplets in a tiny town with no friends or family around would be. So how can I expect others to know what it's like? Fortunately, in a few months, I anticipate (not expect...I dare not use THAT word again!) our kids will be a bit more flexible and able to handle outings. And, as our beautiful Northwest weather dries out a bit, that will at least allow for some fresh air!

Expectations are funny things. We place so much emphasis on our arrogant projection of how others will behave. We have full control of these projections. But we have no control over the behavior we've convinced ourselves to expect. Inevitably, we are disappointed or unprepared or otherwise surprised.

I stumbled upon this quote and thought it had remarkable wisdom for parents:

"I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can't be helped."
--Gestalt prayer

Being an effective, happy parent requires a great deal of flexibility. No one would ever accuse me of having an overabundance of such. But I'm working at it. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst and viewing the unexpected not as terrifying, but as exciting.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.