She ran with elation, with fortitude.
The grasses licked her limbs as they parted, faster and faster as she ran.
She didn’t know quite what she was running from. From everything.
Except everything was actually unfolding before her
As she ran.
The wind became her breath
As it traveled into her mouth, down her windpipe, filling her lungs.
Oxygenating her blood.
And whooshing back out.
Again and again and again.
Faster and faster.
As she ran.
Her dusty bare feet softly thudded the earth.
Heel first, then ball, toes last, pushing off.
Heel, ball, toes. Heelballtoes.
Her hair, blazing in the sunlight, trailed behind her, furiously trying to keep up.
Her dress did the same, only it tugged as it caught on the grasses.
Tears streamed across her face, blown back by indulgence.
A warm glow ignited deep in her belly and slowly radiated out
Down into her pumping thighs, calves, thudding feet
Up into her heaving lungs, biceps, hands, fingers
Spine, neck, brain
Sparkling eyes, flushed cheeks, parted lips.
A smile spread, automatically.
Laughter escaped, bubbling up and spilling out
Like a caged animal set free.
It could not be stopped
As she ran.
Where was she going?
She only knew where she’d been.
She just kept moving, afraid to succumb to inertia.
She was desperate to remember how it felt
As she ran.
I can say that having a newborn the second time around, for me, has been easier than the first time. That leap from non-parent to parent was so intense and life-changing, and nothing could have ever prepared me for that experience.
This time, though, I’ve realized that the only thing that can prepare you for baby number two (if anything) is…baby number one. And it’s not the baby that’s doing the preparing, exactly, but it’s the experience of being a parent, of having to care for a newborn. This time, I knew to expect the extreme sleep deprivation, and what that felt like. I knew to expect feeling isolated, feeling trapped inside the house, feeling resentment at my baby, at my husband, at everyone who wasn’t me and didn’t have my issues. I also knew to expect that this newborn phase would pass (and quickly), that there was definitely light at the end of the tunnel. I had done this before; I could do it again.
Because of this previous experience, I think I was able to fall in love with my baby a whole lot sooner than with my first. This time, I had already given up my freedom, my childless status, my sanity, so there was no resentment. I had little else left to lose! I’m already crazy, baby, so you can’t even come close to rocking my world (in a negative way) the way my first one did.
And this time, this baby made my family complete. Because she’s my last kid, I figure I had better enjoy the good parts while I can. I also did this with my first, to be sure, but it’s different when you know something is the last time going in.
Another point is that we already had all the baby crap. There wasn’t new stuff to research and buy and worry if you’re getting the right thing, or enough things. We had all the things! They just needed to be washed, is all. Easy-peasy.
This time, it’s been a little easier because we, my husband and I, have more balls to just smile and nod while our baby’s doctors tell us to do impossibly time consuming and unrealistic things, and then go home and do what we know will work for us. Namely, we’ve been told with both babies to wake them up to eat every 2-3 hours. We are blessed with babies who love their sleep. Waking them up made them pissed (like me) and they didn’t want to eat. It wasn’t working. We killed ourselves trying to comply with the doctor’s orders for baby number one. For this one, fuck that. We’re letting her sleep, and guess what – it’s working. And that’s only one example, but it’s an important lesson to just follow your gut because it’s made all the difference.
This time around, my physical recovery was easier, which may seem counterintutitive. I was anemic with my first, so I felt weak, tired, and out of breath. This time, although my labor and delivery was crazy amounts more intense than the first (that’s another post entirely), I’ve felt more energetic and sooooo happy to have my body back.
One of the biggest reasons why this is more manageable: my husband and I have already hashed out how we deal with all the baby-related chores. This may not sound like a big deal, but trying to figure out who does what and when and how and what feels fair is the biggest deal of them all. It’s so easy to feel alone, unsupported, and resentful when you don’t feel like your partner is doing their fair share of the work. We got through all those sleep deprived, tear stained arguments two years ago, so now we’re good. Feeling the ease of routine and the support from my husband has been incredible.
So what’s been hard? The hardest part by far has been trying to meet both my kids’ needs, often simultaneously, not to mention trying to meet my own. There’s always at least one person waiting for needs to be met, and it kills me. I feel like I owe both my kids an apology. I’m sorry to my toddler, who’s been used to having my undivided attention his entire life and suddenly has to share me and wait for things. I’m sorry to my infant who has never known my attention to be undivided, who sometimes has to wait for things. I never worried about being able to love both my kids; that part is easy. But feeding them at the same time? Goodness help me. It’s one huge juggling act.
How am I holding up? Better than with my first baby, that’s for sure. The first 6 months with him were the hardest, and if this time is anything like the first, then I definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel: come June, I’ll be getting more sleep, we’ll have found our new normal, we’ll have a routine and a schedule, I’ll feel better in my body and I’ll be ready to be more active and my god, the weather will be nicer. Walks! Parks! Bike rides!
Right now, I’m rediscovering a realization I had when my son was tiny: that good days and bad days don’t depend on what happens, but they depend entirely on how I am feeling and my ability to cope with what happens. If I am well rested and have patience, it’s going to be a good day. If I can remember to sing and dance and laugh, it’s going to be a good day. Even if that day includes a tantrum and tears and potty accidents. That all may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s huge. It makes all the difference.
Here’s to surviving the newborn phase being a mom of two. Cheers.
My heart is just so bursting full…of everything. Love, gratitude, depression, exhaustion, sadness, grief, body image issues, joy.
My mood swings are controlling me. I feel like my whole life is out of control, and rightly so…because was it ever within my control to begin with? Like when my son was born, this out of control feeling lit a fire under my usually only moderately crazy OCD tendencies. I go nuke if something goes missing. I clean even when I’m supposed to be doing something else. I try and control the things in my house because I can’t control any. thing. else.
Being alone with my two kids often terrifies me.
The things my body is capable of continue to astound me.
Breastfeeding is a beast. I’m having PTSD flashbacks around what it was like to breastfeed my son two years ago. I hate how my entire outlook on life depends on how well our last breastfeeding session went. And they are hit or miss. At least she’s latching better than my son did and I am very thankful to report that, for whatever reason, I am actually making more milk than I did after my first pregnancy. Huzzzzzzah.
I hate talking to lactation consultants. They mean well, but man they hit me squarely on my breastfeeding shame trigger. On one hand, it’s my fault that I can’t feed my kid. The simplest thing ever, just feeding her so she doesn’t die. I’m not doing the right position, or I’m not making enough milk, or I’m not pumping enough, not getting enough sleep. Take your pick. On the other, it’s her behavior that’s getting in the way because she pushes and claws and bites and thrashes around and screams. And I resent her for it. Damnit. Either way, horrible mother. And in suggesting I try something different, like massage the breast, use a hot compress, nipple shield, football hold, pump, pump, PUMP – the lactation consultants just seem to highlight the fact that IT’S NOT WORKING and somehow it’s all my fault. You see the spiral.
In order to get through days without falling apart, I’ve had to work hard to disconnect myself from my feelings. It feels so yucky to just numb out like that, but the alternative is to burst into tears while listening to a voice in my head that is wailing, “It’s noon and we just finished breakfast! We can’t do this! How are we supposed to be able to get outside today? Or brush your teeth? Or put on pants?!”
Instead, I have to force myself to listen to the other voice, the emotionally sterile voice saying, “Hey. Now we need to feed the baby. Your toddler can wait to eat, but she’s screaming. Go on now, first things first.” It’s a constant struggle, but it works. And some days are easier than others.
When I look back, I realize that 2015 was the year when nothing happened. I know I blogged about how it was the year a grew into being a mom, and I am so glad that I had that time with my son. That year, we didn’t change marital status. We didn’t move. We didn’t change jobs. We didn’t get pregnant or have any babies. Things were stable and boring. Yay for boring!
My hope is that 2017 is like that, too. I’d like the time and space to develop a routine with my kids, a relationship with my daughter, and a new relationship with myself as a mom of two. As for 2016…that was the year when things got progressively harder. I got pregnant, I got tired, then I got huge and tired. I slowed down while my toddler sped the fuck up. I had daily pain for a while and I could barely bend over to pick up things my toddler had dropped…or thrown. We still managed to have a lot of fun in 2016, though. We went camping and (barely) survived. I applied for a job I didn’t end up taking, but it was nice to put on professional clothes again. We took our son trick-or-treating and he loved it. We took him to the snow and had mixed results. We took a trip to California and had fun seeing family. We took our first family road trip and D danced at his first wedding. We successfully became DAYTIME POTTY TRAINED, people! We went to the zoo and hunted for Easter eggs and went on a train and picked strawberries and saw a parade and ate ice cream and played in the water features and went to the planetarium and went to the pumpkin patch and toured a cheese factory. Whew.
I’m glad I just typed all of that out because, according to that list, 2016 wasn’t all that bad. We were a family! We really got to enjoy my son being a fun age. My hope for 2017 is that things just get better from here on out.
Even though my current days are often dark, I can totally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Part of it is because I’ve been through this once before. I know a little better what to expect, and we’ve already adjusted how we’re dealing with raising a newborn since the first time. Another part is that I’m done making babies. This is it; this is my family, and it’s beautiful! I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted, and I feel so amazingly (hashtag) blessed, as cliche as that sounds. But it’s true.
And with that, this blog post has come full circle. It’s a swirling hot mess of emotions: welcome to my life. My beautiful, imperfect, perfect life.
My fellow blogger friend, Dawn, did this gratitude post last year and it was awesome, so I am joining in again this year. Read my list and then see below for how to join in!
50 Things I am Grateful For, and/or Made Me Happy in 2016
- My son
- My husband
- My house – making it feel more like a home
- Potty training my son – no small feat
- Getting pregnant and all the anticipation that comes with that
- My health
- My family’s health
- My ability to practice self care
- Reading to my son, both with and without my husband
- Watching my son grow and learn with amazement and pride
- Hillary Clinton
- The hope that Hillary’s campaign brought to my life
- Last Week Tonight – you know, John Oliver’s show
- Discovered The Newsroom – makes me wish that show was real
- The local moms I have met and gotten to know. They are so kind and willing to help me out. Giving me baby things and watching my son for free – it’s amazing and I am so thankful.
- My OB. I found a new one and she’s funny and smart and no-nonsense.
- My Portland friend who listens and helps without blinking an eye. Thank you.
- Blogging and writing. I hope to do more of it…someday.
- Sleep. I’m on the verge of not getting much anymore, and so I cherish it now.
- The new bed we bought this year. Seriously.
- Trips into Portland for good food.
- Trips to California to see our families.
- My family of origin, who visit and help out and love me and my son.
- Thankful that I am ready for baby to come, and also ready for Christmas. The feeling brings peace when her arrival is so unpredictable.
- The look on my kid’s face when he’s discovering something new, exciting, enchanting, or delicious.
- Singing, and music.
- Really good books. Like Amy Schumer’s book, which I just finished.
- Alan Rickman.
- Harry Potter. I can’t wait to share these stories with my kids!
- Robin Williams. I still end up quoting him almost once a day.
- Laughter. Especially the shared kind.
- Baking. (and eating what I bake) I don’t do it nearly enough.
- A really neatly wrapped present.
…aaaaaaand the timer just went off, so here I stop.
UPDATE: So I totally thought of a few more things after I originally posted this, so I am adding them here:
34. Yoga. It centers me, it calms me, it makes me feel strong.
35. Barack Obama. I am REALLY going to miss that guy.
36. Michelle Obama. She is a class act and an amazing role model and source of hope. When they go low, she goes high.
37. The snow, when it insulates the world and makes everything magically QUIET.
38. The pouring rain, when I am inside and warm and cozy in bed.
39. Summer. My god, summer.
Want to do this too?! GREAT! Here’s how:
- Set a timer for 15 minutes
- Just write as many things as you can, even if you go over or stay under the 50
- Then add links, photos, whatever, after the timed part is over
- Publish it, and link back to Dawn’s post or mine (or both) and if you wanna be included in the InLinkz, see instructions on Dawn’s post.
I’m definitely not done with 2016 yet, but so far, it’s been real.
Today was the first day I felt actually ready and excited to have this baby.
You know, because you never really feel ready-ready, and nothing can ever actually prepare you.
I’m due on the 26th and today I am 38 weeks + 2. I started feeling crampy and achey last night while I was bending and lifting and standing to wrap Christmas presents. It felt like the familiar daily race to get things done before my body gave out, except with more urgency this time.
I took a hot shower and the steady stream of water felt really great on my lower back. I went to bed feeling oddly calm paired with the crampy anticipation and excitement that maybe this baby would be coming soon.
As the night wore on, with each successive trip to go pee, I felt more contractions and more anticipatory excitement that eventually kept me up from about 4-5:30am. I started bargaining as I frequently do: please, just wait until morning so we don’t have to wake the kid and rush out of here to the hospital. Also, please don’t wait too long and kick in just as the forecasted snow starts falling in the afternoon, making it hard for us to get to the hospital.
Arg, being unable to plan for something so important is making me go batty. As much as I complained about being induced with my first baby, I am now realizing how it took away a lot of this uncertainty.
B got up for work and I told him I thought I was in the early stages of labor. He asked if there was anything he could do, and there really wasn’t, so he got ready and left for work and we both assumed I’d be calling him in a few hours to get to the hospital.
This is perfect, I thought. We’ll make the window between sleep and snow, and all my support people are still in town today. And I’ll get to hold my baby!
As I lay there, I started thinking about the date and what her birthday might be, how labor would go, what I still needed to pack. My mind was whirring.
It took some effort, but I was able to sleep for a few more hours. I woke with continued mild contractions and started packing more stuff into my hospital bag. Then I started my day with the kid and we had breakfast and…..then nothing really happened.
Contractions stayed the same. We played, had lunch. The snow began to fall. Shit, I got nervous. The window was gone, and now I just knew I’d go into labor just in time for the snarl of traffic that was sure to happen. And it’s a 20-30 minute drive to the hospital with no traffic at all. I texted B at work and we agreed that we’d call 911 to request a police escort if it came to it.
I worried that I was waiting too long. What if these contractions were the real thing and my tolerance for pain is freakishly amazing? The whole day felt like one long contraction anyway, as my uterus tightens up anytime I stand up to move. I worried I’d end up having the baby at home, in the car. I was questioning my judgement.
Once I finally got the kid down for his nap and I was able to relax and try to chart my contractions, I could tell there was no rhythm, no intensity, no buildup. At the same time, I can feel that my body has turned a corner. It’s definitely getting ready. Just how ready and how quickly?
Leading up to today I’ve been doing a different kind of bargaining. It’s the thing where I’m sick and tired of being pregnant but still had shit I needed to get done before she got here. Christmas shopping needed to be finished. There was wrapping to be done. Decorating needed to happen. We even did our Christmas brunch early. And not to mention all the normal baby stuff that needed to be ready. Washing clothes, folding, putting away. We moved the kid into his new room along with all his stuff to make room for baby stuff. Car seats, carriers, bouncy seats, etc.
But as of last night…all that was largely done. We did it. We got ready. We’re ready. Holy crap!
As I just typed that, I realized we never got to that point when I was pregnant the first time, because at 38 weeks we moved into this house. In the three weeks before I was induced we were scrambling to get boxes unpacked just so we’d know where the pots and pans and underwear were – forget any kind of nesting or decorating. So that makes sense now that I actually feel ready. I’m thankful for the feeling…even though it can’t ever be ready-ready.
So now, we wait. Come on out, little miss. There’s a layer of snow on the ground and it’s beautiful, just for you.
i really wanted to be able to go. i need this. someone make it so. someone FIX IT.
too often, i hang my happiness, or potential happiness, up onto this Thing, and if the Thing doesn’t happen, or doesn’t happen the way I want it to, somehow the potential for happiness is gone.
that sounds so stupid, doesn’t it?
because the Things are so small, yet I give them so much weight. capital Ts and all.
Life isn’t perfect.
Life is messy.
It’s okay that I am not perfect.
Perfection is boring.
Perfection doesn’t exist.
I’m going to be fine.
I am fine.
I am enough.
I have everything I need.
i have all these great mantras and i can go through them until i’m blue in the face, but they still don’t take away the….the what? disappointment? anger? hurt? shame?
all of the above?
this makes me feel like i am five years old, unable to tolerate such feelings so that they come pouring out of me as behaviors – physical manifestations of my nebulous emotions.
in other words – they become real.
letting go is super hard. processing this is hard.
someone teach me how.
someone please FIX IT.
My parents just left after a week-long visit and I’m sad.
The day after kind, helpful company leaves is always tough, for many reasons. One, I’ve just lost a huge help in terms of cleaning and food prep and all the energy it takes to give attention to Dylan. Two, Dylan gets very used to all the constant, undivided attention during the visit and he’s usually more needy and whiny than usual after they leave, and I’m left to deal with that. Three, I’ve just lost rational, adult humans to talk to and eat with every day. It highlights just how isolated and alone I often feel on a daily basis, despite my growing efforts to reach out and meet new people with whom I can meaningfully connect (which is a struggle and a whole other post of its own).
Plus, fourth, the leaving highlights just how far away from family we are and how much that sucks. We’re coming up on second baby’s birthing time, and I’ve had to arrange a phone tree of sorts of local friends who can keep my son alive while we wait for family to hop on a plane and get here once I go into labor. I suppose it’s time to find some babysitters in the area we can call and *gulp* actually pay to watch my spawn from time to time, but that’s just not the same as having grandma and grandpa just across town.
Not long after Bamma and Pa-pa left, I looked at the forecast on my phone. Readers, fellow Psychos, you all know how much the weather affects my mood. The last two days have been mercifully sunny and delightfully warmish for this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, and I did my best to enjoy them. We got outside and went to parks, synthesized some vitamin D and some sanity. Well, wouldn’t you know it, in a few short hours the skies are going to open up again with a series of storms with no end in sight, says my irrational sad brain. Ah, symbolism. You stormy bitch.
So, visits are hard. They are fun and exciting and something to break up the often horribly mind-numbing sameness of my days…but once they are over, the sameness I return to seems to become even more mind-numbing.
It started like any ordinary day.
And that’s the thing – these days, most days were just that – ordinary. Sure, some moments stuck out for better or for worse, but they were mostly spent in the monotony of keeping her kid safe, clothed, fed, occupied.
As she lied in bed, she could hear her son happily babbling over the baby monitor. He rarely woke up in a bad mood. She got up and started her usual routine of making the bed, getting dressed, dragging a brush through her hair, and then she went to go get her son.
As soon as she opened his bedroom door, the stale odor of his poopy diaper floated out to greet her. And then she could see, under her smiling, blond baby boy, that his crib sheet was quite soiled.
First things first, she thought, Diaper change, then strip the bed, then laundry.
As it turned out, the leak was so bad that this kid, who normally only got two baths a week, needed a quick one from the waist down. He was delighted. She was already exhausted.
She got all the dirty things in a pile, shoved them in the washer, threw in some extra OxyClean, and got the boy downstairs for breakfast and to move on with the day. And not a moment too soon, because being pregnant with baby number two meant that breakfast needed to come asap in order to stave off the dizzy spells. And all that bending over for the sheets and bath weren’t doing her any favors, either.
Breakfast was uneventful, but since the pre-breakfast cleanup took so long, she decided to just stay home and play inside between breakfast and lunch. Hopefully they could get to the water features after lunch and before nap.
When the washer was done, both mom and son trekked back upstairs to transfer everything to the dryer.
The toddler had run off to play somewhere and mom opened the washer to discover that the poop stains had gotten worse, not better. Upon frustrated inspection, she found that matter from the leaked diaper had stayed inside the pajamas and had been let loose inside the washer to wreak further havoc. Everything would now have to be hand-treated and rewashed.
Just as she was silently swearing to herself, there was a loud crash. It sounded like breaking glass, but it also didn’t register. What the hell could he have gotten into? was her immediate thought as she turned to find him.
He was in his room, looking stunned and standing next to a floor lamp that was now entirely on the floor. Glass was everywhere. Both were barefoot.
She burst into tears.
He burst into tears.
She tiptoed across the carpet, picked him up, tiptoed back across the glass minefield and immediately went downstairs, leaving everything just where it was. Poop stains and broken glass.
Feeling completely overwhelmed, she called her husband at work and a fresh round of tears choked her words as she tried to explain what had happened and that she needed him to come home.
Please help. I can’t do this.
A mercifully short 15 minutes later, her husband was upstairs being amazing by cleaning up the mess.
It looks like a crime scene up here! he called down the stairs.
He explained that he looked up the proper way to clean up mercury, because he didn’t want to stir up all the yucky particles.
Oh, fuck! The actual bulb broke, too?! I thought it was just the glass of the lamp. I didn’t even look. Good thing we got out of there and I didn’t even try to clean up. Ugh.
He cleaned. Mom and son had lunch. They didn’t make it to the water features that day. Instead, they played in the kiddie pool in their yard. Not knowing the changed plans, the son had fun just the same. Right in time for a nap, the dad had the room all clean. No glass, new sheets. Like nothing had ever happened.
The dad (thankyouthankyouthankyou) went back to work and the mom spent the quiet nap time working the stains out of the load of laundry by hand. As if the stains were demons and the sheets were motherhood.
She washed the load again. This time, the stains came out.
Like nothing had ever happened.
On Tuesday my partner and I celebrate three years of marriage.
I want to say it’s been all rainbows and unicorn farts, but it hasn’t. Well, there have been farts, but not those of the unicorn variety. It’s been…loving and supportive and stable and hilarious and the kind of tenderness that brings one to tears. But it’s also been the biggest challenge in our relationship since moving out of state and having a kid and basically having our whole world flipped upside down. And now we’re about to flip it once again with baby number two. Woo-boy. I’m sure glad I have him by my side for all this.
But enough about our marriage. The anniversary gets us thinking about our wedding and all the bittersweet feelings that go with it. I blogged about it (read it here) to help me cope at the time and then the post got Freshly Pressed, which I initially had mixed feelings about. On one hand, getting recognized for my writing is always nice, but I was worried that the feedback I got would just make me feel worse.
Overall, the good outweighed the bad and I felt so validated knowing that many, many other people felt similar letdowns as a result of their weddings. My comment section became a big virtual group therapy session. We shared horror stories and shared what helped make us feel better. I thanked people for reading and supporting and commenting. People thanked me for writing because it made them feel less invalidated, less sad, less alone. I am glad that I wrote what I wrote.
What interests me now, and what prompted me to write about this again, is that that blog post has been by far my most popular post. To this day – almost three full years later – it still gets about 3-10 hits a day, on average. Every day. And occasionally, people still comment with their own stories.
It makes me feel so sad when I read what people have Googled to get themselves to my wedding blog post. Things like, “my wedding was a disaster,” and “I can’t get over how my wedding went,” or “I’m depressed about my wedding.” This sucks! Part of me feels validated because, again, I am definitely not alone in how I feel about my wedding. However, part of me feels like a sucker. I fell for the whole wedding-industrial complex. I got wrapped up around expectations that were handed to me (and that I readily accepted) by society, spent a hell of a lot of money, put tons of eggs into the basket of one blissful day, only to have it crash down all around me. What does this say about our society that this post-wedding blues phenomenon is so common?!
Would I do things differently? A few, but not many. I admit, even now, I still just wanted the fun, expensive party that I could enjoy with all my friends and family.
In the months following my wedding, I responded to the many comments readers posted. Some were unsolicited advice (one of my least favorite kinds of feedback), others were words of sympathy and encouragement, and many were similar horror stories. Because I was going through my own grieving process, I found it difficult to respond to others who were suffering as I was. Reading those comments brought up my own yucky feelings that I was still wading through (or trying to forget – depending on the day) and it was uncomfortable. It stung. Each new story was a reminder that I’d always look back on that day with some amount of sadness, grief, regret. Even today, a random comment that gets posted brings it all back, just a little bit.
While responding to these comments, I found myself wanting to slip into a therapist role as I typed. Of course, that role feels natural to me, and it also protected me because it created distance between myself and my feelings. Now that I am much more at peace with how my wedding went and how I feel about it, reading and answering the comments is easier. Easier, but not pain-free.
My brother made us a wonderful video from the raw footage a relative took at our wedding, and only recently did my husband and I muster up enough courage to actually watch it, almost three years after the day. Of course it brought back some of the yucky feelings. The grief. But. It also reminded me that I actually managed to have fun that day. And the ceremony was wonderfully moving. And I looked beautiful. And we were so in love. I couldn’t deny it – the proof was right there on camera! Whew.
In all the discussion with readers about how to heal and move on from these experiences, we often talked about having a do-over. A “corrective experience” as therapists put it. I pictured the two of us on a beach in Hawaii with an officiant and a photographer. No one else. I have flowers in my hair. The wind is whipping my white cotton sundress around. The sun is setting. We’re laughing and holding hands. And no one can take away our joy.
Maybe someday. I say maybe, because I don’t want to get too hung up on expectations.