Reality. "The world or state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them."
I think it's safe to say most of us had created an idealistic view of family life prior to ever holding our first child. We'd read books, watched movies and television shows centered around families, and had personal experience within our own family. We'd take mental notes and create a list of do's and don'ts while watching those around us raise their family.
Before our first sweet little bundle of joy entered the world we just KNEW our idealistic family life would be a reality. Until it wasn't.
I think back to those days and chuckle at our naivety. For my husband and I, it didn't take long for reality to set in. Our oldest son had jaundice when he came home and looked like a glowworm wrapped in the biliblanket for the first few days of his life at home. Reflux, a benign heart murmur, Failure to Thrive...we experienced all of that and more within the first 10 months of his life. Add in the peanut allergy we discovered before age 2 and that vision was completely out the door!
In hindsight, I'm thankful we got a dose of reality so early on in our parenting journey. It prepared us for the unexpected and softened the blow when we hit bumps in the road with our other 3 kiddos. Those bumps continue to appear, but our ability to adapt and manage them has infinitely grown.
If I could share one piece of advice for new parents it would be this: those parenting books, though filled with good intentions and advice, are crap. Bits and pieces may hold true for your child, but beating yourself up and asking, "What am I doing wrong?!" is just not worth it.
When you bring your little bundle of joy home from the hospital, you should be given a blank manuscript to write your own story. Your child is unique. What worked for thousands of others babies may not work for yours. It's OK!!!!! In time, you will get to know your child and the manuscript will be filled with your own beautiful story. Others may not understand your choices. They may offer countless pieces of advice and even ridicule your for your decisions. Let them. This is YOUR family's story and only you can write it.
As long as your child is safe, loved, and their basic needs are met, you're doing an amazing job. If you encounter bumps along the road, detours, or an entirely different route than you expected, it will be ok. It may be anything but easy, but you will find your way.
11 years of raising children has taught me to throw expectations out the window, expect the unexpected, and adapt to the gifts and challenges presented to you. The struggle is real, but you can overcome and find beauty in the mess.
Life is not perfect. It was never meant to be. Embrace where life has led you, strive to be better each day, and turn those lemons into lemonade. You've got this!