It might be obvious by reading this blog that I am quite a controlling person. I like to call it ‘organised’, but I understand that behind my back people would definitely describe me as controlling. I live a busy life. I’ve always preferred to be busy as I get bored easily; even as a child I had extra-curricular activities almost every night after school and I’m still one of those people who volunteers for everything. I belong to clubs, I dedicate myself to causes and my mind is always racing thinking about what’s next, how can I make the most use of today, what can I do to keep myself busy. A friend once observed that I don’t just seem to think fast and talk fast, but I also walk fast. She is right; dawdling is a waste of time. For this reason, my career has always found me in jobs that keep me full-time-crazy-busy and as a result being ultra-organised/controlling suited this life; I was always organised for the day ahead knowing exactly what needed to be done, what meetings I had, what phone calls I had to make and emails I had to return, what time I would have to be where and basically in 15 minute slots knew exactly what I would be doing from the start of the day to the end. I could make my day successful and I could be good at my job just by being organised, busy and making quick decisions. That’s what I was used to. And this worked well for me. Until Lottie arrived.
I’m not saying that I regret being controlling. Being organised is really helpful with a newborn; doing the washing when you’ve got a spare moment, making sure you have nappies, expressing milk so there’s stock in the freezer, keeping doctors’ appointments, remembering to eat lunch. I’m also finding being decisive is important too, because looking after a baby is continuous decision making: deciding you’ve seen a tired sign and putting baby down to sleep; deciding the difference between a whinge and an emotional cry that needs attending to; deciding whether to go into the supermarket while baby is awake, or driving around until she is asleep and then hoping to keep her asleep while shopping; deciding if baby has fed for long enough or if she’s popped off the boob early and will be hungry again in 10 minutes. The decisions you make are endless and by the end of the day this is the part of motherhood I find most exhausting. For me, there is also constant analysis of the decisions I’ve made, and analysing what I might do differently next time. I agree with this article about why 30-something career women overanalyse motherhood, and even ‘intellectualise’ everything, trying to find a better way of doing things by relying on seeking advice, doing research and reading books. And in my case writing this blog. I’m trying to get this baby stuff sorted just like my life was sorted before Lottie. Understandable really.
My controlling-like approach to motherhood isn’t going to change as this is my personality. Obviously if I was more inherently likely to go with the flow, I would have a different approach to motherhood and wouldn’t worry so much about each and every little thing. Maybe that would make things easier, maybe it wouldn’t. That’s by the by. I can’t change my personality. Motherhood can’t change my personality. But what I do need to do, and what I can do, is let go of the idea that by being organised, analytical and decisive, I can make Lottie as predictable as my life used to be. Because there is nothing predictable about babies.
Before Lottie, I could make my day successful by working hard and being organised and knowing exactly what I needed to do to make my day successful and so I did that and everything mostly turned out well. But with Lottie, I can do my absolute best to be organised, to make good decisions and to learn from past mistakes and analyse what went wrong to do it differently next time and everything can still go wrong. Three nights ago, Lottie woke every two hours after her dream feed and I have no idea why. The next night she was back on her usual one night feed after dream feed routine and I have no idea why. Today I left a gathering of mums lunching because Lottie slept for 10 minutes in the carrier and wouldn’t go back to sleep and was cracking it. I have no idea why. Tomorrow I could do the exact same thing and get a totally different result. For someone like me this can be maddening. And that’s why I need to let go. I need to do my best and understand sometimes I will be late, sometimes I will leave early, and something I will not turn up at all and that’s just the way things are with a small baby. Sometimes Lottie’s morning sleep will be one sleep cycle of 45 minutes, sometimes an hour, sometimes two and sometimes it won’t happen at all. Things can feel chaotic, and the dishes don’t get done, and the cats don’t get fed and you’re crazily jigging a baby who won’t sleep in your arms begging her to shut her eyes. And then the next day things can feel completely calm, and you have five hours of amazing day sleeps up your sleeve to finish the second draft of your Honours thesis. There is no rhyme or reason. Lottie just is. And I love her to bits so I’m happy to let go. And I’m happy to come to the conclusion that I’m ok with letting go in the only way I know how; where I will keep being organised, decisive and analytical while trying to control my world, whilst also knowing that Lottie will be unpredictable despite my best efforts. And that’s ok.