Friday, May 16, 2008

The Bigger Picture: Be cooler than I am

I have yet another confession to share in hopes that it will make someone else a little wiser:

I have trouble seeing the big picture. I get lost in the details like a fat kid gets lost in the candy store (I'm a fat kid in recovery, so I can use those types of analogies.); I focus on the big event and then stand dumbfounded after the big event wondering what I should do now that I have [insert something life-altering].

Example: marriage
I spent days writing our guest list, adding names and figuring out ways to squeeze in more guests. I spent weeks trying to find the perfect flowers that matched the ever-so-light pink of my bridesmaids' dresses, and I spent months trying to nail down the program line-up for the big day. I also spent more hours than I care to admit trying to figure out how to use the publishing software to make those wedding programs that everyone threw away as soon as they chugged beer number three at the reception. Guess how much time I spent reading books about speaking my spouse's love language or talking to married couples about some of the issues they faced? Maybe six hours total -- and that's probably a generous estimate. The wedding day came; it was beautiful, tons of fun, exhausting. And then it was over. I spent months preparing for one day that marked the beginning of a life-time commitment instead of adequately preparing for that commitment. And when I look at it that way it kind of makes me want to slap my forehead and exclaim "DUH!" Yes, everyone still talks about our legendary wedding, but I have to face the facts: the part that became legendary was the post-party when all of our intoxicated friends went to the hotel and did things like jump into the hot tub naked, drink champagne from a coffee pot and snuggle with pee-soaked sheets. And I had nothing to do with that preparation with the exception of the fact that John and I decided to have free beer and wine at the reception.

Example: having a baby
Every night for about three months John and I religiously practiced relaxation methods for labor and delivery. We read books -- many, many books -- about what to expect and how to have the best childbirth experience. We spent three hours every Monday night for eight weeks at a Bradley Method class preparing for this big day. And that's all great as I know that this preparation was beneficial. But when it all comes down to it, we prepared more for the actual birth of our son than we prepared ourselves for taking on the life-time role of being parents. After the baby was born we both looked at diapers and wondered how to put one of those contraptions on a baby that was so small. I couldn't even adequately feed the poor kid for the first two days or so because I had not taken a whole lot of time to learn about breastfeeding. I thought I was a breastfeeding expert after four times of watching the breastfeeding video our doctor gave us while I was still pregnant. I think it probably would have been in my best interest to learn more about breastfeeding, changing diapers and babywearing while G was still a bun in the oven instead of watching an entire season of the Gilmore Girls while impatiently trying to do everything in my power to get G to come out earlier than when he was ready.

I lived. I learned. John and I are still married even though we've had to learn about being good spouses on a daily basis. And G is a healthy 19 pounds and 12 ounces at nine months, which is living proof that our rocky start with breastfeeding did not harm him. We're no worse for the wear, but I probably could have gotten quite a few more hours of sleep those first three months if I was not up reading everything I could get my hands on about how to attachment parent a baby. I also probably could have won a lot more arguments in less time had I known how to fight fairly. And I definitely would have exchanged having the perfect flowers to have had the time to instead read the book about how to get your husband to do stuff if I would have known the moldy blender was going to be my 25th birthday present. =)

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