Monday, April 29, 2013

Setting New Expectations


I found out I was pregnant the day after our holiday party. December 2nd, 2012 to be exact. By that time, Jeremy and I had been trying to conceive for a couple of months, but all of the preceding months had left us with disappointment. This time, I was a day late, but I've always been late or even early. I've never been lucky enough to have a clockwork kind of menstrual cycle. So, instead of waiting another day or two to possibly avoid wasting yet another pregnancy test, I grabbed the First Response leftover from the previous month and went for it. As I was fidgeting nervously in front of the bathroom sink, the pink vertical line slowly appeared on the oval screen of the test. 

My hands started to shake.

It was like seeing something that you've begun to stop believing existed. I began to hyperventilate, and ran downstairs to share the news with Jeremy. I stopped half way down the steps and sat down. I was trying to catch my breath as Jeremy was trying to figure out what had happened to me. I couldn't figure out a way to say that I was pregnant. By the way, if you've never been pregnant, say "I'm pregnant" out loud. Weird, isn't it? With my shaky, cold hands, I lifted the positive pregnancy test to show Jeremy who had ran up and sat on the steps with me. His eyes opened wide in surprise which was followed by a hug that left me sobbing in his arms. A few minutes later, we grabbed our coats and went to the drugstore to buy more pregnancy tests to make sure I was really pregnant. Sure enough, positive results popped up on the screen of every test I took.

The first three months were the most special time of my pregnancy. It was the time when Jeremy and I were keeping a joyous secret from the world around us. It was our secret. It was all we talked about with one another, and it was during these three months we started the first stages of planning for the arrival of our baby. It was a time when the thought of becoming a mother who will be the definition of safety, love, and all things true to a completely dependent little boy or girl began to fester in my mind in the form of anxiety.

During these three months, I also began to think about the social implications of parenting, specifically motherhood, and the conflicting ideologies that still exists in our society. As a society, we don't talk about how motherhood is still evaluated based on the antiquated ideal construction of a family: white, middle class, and heterosexual couple. We fail to talk about how women who fail to fit these unrealistic expectations are still evaluated as a less than an ideal candidate for motherhood, because a contemporary mother's culture, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and societal standing, prevents them from creating their own ideal pregnancy and motherhood experiences. In order for us to fulfill the ideal role of motherhood, we're expected to be emotionally available to our children and work full-time. Needless to say, proper childcare isn't always made available or affordable for working women. Although society expects us to be financially independent and emotionally available mothers, we're inevitably set to fail in trying to fulfill these highly idealized societal expectations. Of course, when we fail, we're conditioned to feel guilty. 

It's been two months since Jeremy and I announced my pregnancy to our family and friends, but I still think about these societal issues. I, too, am a woman who has been raised to think that I must fulfill these idealized notions once I become a mother. Although I'm just another woman who will soon become a mother,  I want to begin ignoring these unrealistic rules and expectations set by society. I want to accept that I might not always be the best teacher, mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, but I will continue to do my best with the professional and personal challenges I take on. I will not set myself up for failure, because I don't want to feel guilty. I want to set my own realistic expectations and goals. It may not seem like much, but it only takes one woman at a time to set new and achievable expectations for themselves to change society's perception of what it means to be a good mother. 

What about you? How do you deal with the unrealistic societal expectations?

(Photo: One of the many home pregnancy tests I took)

7 comments:

  1. As a father, the role is somewhat different. We're expected to be the "bread winners" by society. We are expected to work and provide as best we can so that our children will want for nothing. I changed that expectation for me. I knew going into parenthood that my wife will ALWAYS make more money then I do. I knew that I'd rather love and be there for my family rather then work all day long. I've received many compliments for being such a loving father/husband and several comments for a "decreased work ethic" (you know, not working 24/7 like people began to expect). I'd rather my child learn the value of money rather then get everything and still want more. I chose to give her love, unconditionally, and to commit to raising her as best I can with the values that were instilled in me by my parents. It almost made me cry this morning when I walked out the door and she stood inside waving about to cry herself. The trick is that when I get home tonight (if she's not already in bed) I'll be playing with her. If she is in bed, then tomorrow morning I'll play with her like this morning. I make it a point to spend time with my family, which from what I've seen of contemporary father's is becoming an increasing trend, but still the exception rather then the rule.

    To you, Nagi, I have one thing to say. Stick to your gut and you'll be a wonderful mother.

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    1. Thank you! What a fantastic response! xo

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  2. It's hard to ignore those expectation but definitely ideal to do so. Being the mother of a 4 month old, I find that it's other mothers who are the hardest on us. No one way of parenting is the absolute best but a lot of moms seem to feel that if you aren't listening to what Dr. So and So says about such and such, you're a bad mom. The best way to handle it is to do exactly what you said, know that you are doing your best. If your baby is happy, your family is happy and you're all healthy, that's what matters! Love your new blog by the way :)

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  3. i love this! you have such a good head on your shoulders! you are going to be a great mother! I think the best way to deal with unrealistic expectations is loving yourself and being happy with you who are. then you dont have to worry what others think or how things go knowing you did your best.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and all of your kind words! xo

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  4. I can ONLY imagine the nervousness and the excitement of finding out you are in fact, pregnant. I often wonder how I will react, and ask myself... Will I be relaxed enough to plan a special way to tell G the news? Or will I freak out and blurt it out right away. It's fun knowing that excitement is ahead of us... Someday! :)

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