A few weeks ago I was chatting to someone who was terrified about starting a family because she felt she didn’t have quite the right amount of space or money – she felt her situation wasn’t perfect right now, so kept postponing starting a family. Now of course, I’m rather too sensible according to most people, so I would always advocate making sure that your living and financial situation is adequate and planning ahead. I’m a type A planner and will plan the grocery shopping trip down to the final detail, let alone starting a family! But of course, I’m not perfect.
Perfection is something that I have constantly struggled to obtain, especially when I was younger and of course, I always fell short of the mark because the standards I set myself were often simply unobtainable. It took a lot of introspection and evaluation for me to admit that yes, I set myself ridiculous, impossible goals, and I need to go easy on myself and accept situations for all the positives they have, without fussing about what isn’t there. I still have to remind myself of this on a daily basis as I get disappointed with myself very easily and my husband is always having to remind me that what I’m achieving is actually amazing.
When I found out I was pregnant – after 9 years of infertility and having accepted a child was not going to happen for us – I was very scared and apprehensive about bringing a new life into the world in a 1 bedroom apartment. We actually moved from a 3 bedroom house down to our apartment to be close to work and the city centre as we had thought a family wasn’t happening. Whoops! Due to the nature of our jobs and our lives, it’s very hard for us to up and move, so any move takes epic planning and consideration. It took me a long time to accept that we wouldn’t be moving in our first year. There would be no nursery. No playroom. Just a cot in the bedroom, and a living room crammed with toys.
I struggled with looking at forums and social media as other people posted their picture-perfect homes, feeling like I was failing my son before he was even born. But in reality – babies don’t care about the perfect nursery, or matching bedding and cute outfits. All they care is that they’re fed, warm, clean and loved. I had to keep reminding myself of what the important things really were, and it wasn’t that gorgeous pastel colour scheme I’d just seen online and personalised baby bunting.
Then I set my heart on our new place. I posted some pictures of the new bedroom – no longer a nursery, but ideal for a one year old on Instagram and basked in my own self congratulatory glow. We were being responsible adults! We would have space for him to grow! It was going to be glorious… and then it wasn’t. Due to some family issues, everything changed. And then more problems, and more issues and more unexpected twists and turns. The first two years of my son’s life have been peppered with unexpected downfalls, grief and health problems – but also joy, wonder and love.
That’s life isn’t it? Always throwing things at you and if you dodge one thing, you can guarantee it’s got something else lined up. It threw me mentally, but I had to focus on the positive, because if you focus on the negative, you’re never going to move forward. There is always a positive, even in the darkest of times.
So each time I thought of the bad parts of the situation, I would force myself to try and think about something good too and it really helped me feel that mental shift. Sometimes that goodness were just the simple things that I might otherwise take for granted. A healthy baby, a smile in the morning, cuddling my husband at night, watching a good movie on the TV, having access to the internet to talk to friends, a fresh bowl of strawberries, a weekend away in a tiny caravan by the sea.
If I had planned for all this, it would never have happened. I wouldn’t have my beautiful baby boy because there’s always something that can block your perfect dreams.
As I was talking to this terrified future mum I realised that if I was her, I’d never have a family at all. I told her that and I explained about my roadblocks and how our living situation and financial situation was far from perfect, but that we’d made it work. Love (and a lot of hard work) really does make anything possible, but I’ll hold up my hands and admit that I’ve had to compromise on my hopes and dreams, and found new ones along the way. And I’ve found my measure of peace in that, in my far from perfect life.
I’d like to think that eased some of her anxiety, it was hard to tell, but I know she definitely took in what I was saying and had a think about it. Maybe now is not a good time for her to start a family, but hopefully she won’t keep waiting for a perfect world that will never happen.
As a perfectionist with a lot of anxiety issues, accepting that something isn’t exactly how I imagined it has been hard. Accepting that I can’t achieve everything I want, but the things I can achieve are good enough has been very difficult. Looking at the negative things and being able to embrace them, work around them, improve them and sometimes, just learning to live with them, has been a struggle. Having my son has really helped me to embrace the moment, to take pleasure in every day no matter how it’s played out and I finally feel a measure of peace and acceptance of my situation, health and finances.
I try to embrace the things I have and make it work, to live in the moment, to focus on the positive and believe in myself and the things I can achieve.
How about you? What are you grateful for? Did you wait for the perfect moment to start a family, and have you perspectives changed?