By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
So, anyone who is a frequent reader of our Thrive blog knows that I recently became a first time mom. Our son, Luca James, was born on 8/20/17 and we are just over the moon that he is a part of our family! Our hearts are full and overflowing with love, as well as exhaustion!
In our first few weeks as new parents, I have been reflecting a lot on one word in particular… “surrender.” This is also a topic of conversation with many of my clients and I notice that often the word surrender has a somewhat negative connotation to it… like, you are giving up or quitting. I would like to consider ways we can redefine this word, as we have tried to do with so many others (failure, perfect, good/bad, etc.). The reason why this word has been coming up so much for me is because it seems like the first lesson of parenting… Surrender. Surrender your preconceived notions of how things will go, surrender to the process and the love you feel, surrender to the at times messy house or unfinished to do list, and surrender any sense of control you might believe you have. While I thought I learned this lesson early on in my pregnancy when instead of a totally 100% healthy diet, I pretty much lived off of bread and other carbs due to my continual nausea, I clearly was not done with this lesson. And come to think of it, this is likely to be an ongoing lesson for this mama considering my generally neurotic and perfectionistic tendencies!
While we are over the moon about our little Luca, his arrival certainly did not go as planned…. Not that they ever really do – birth plan, what is that? With a very long labor, complications that led us down a totally different course than expected, and then a brief stint for little man in the NICU; things really were off to an unexpected and difficult start for us. This is what really brought me back to this concept of surrendering and the importance of releasing the things we can’t control. This is what helped us through this time… not surrendering in a helpless way, but in a sense of releasing our control and learning to accept things as they were. “It is what it is” quickly became our motto as we went back and forth from our recovery room to our son’s NICU room. Well, and a good dose of tears but that’s another topic!
Luckily, now we are all home and recovering amazingly well overall. We count ourselves lucky that Luca only needed minimal treatment and observation in the NICU and that we were able to bring him home only a few days after being there. It really opened our eyes to the challenges families face when their babies are in the NICU for longer and just how difficult that is for everyone. While things for us are certainly not perfect, we have learned a huge lesson in gratitude, surrender, and how to cope together when things are not going the way we want.
I would encourage anyone reading to really take some time to think about situations in their lives and how a bit more “surrender” might benefit you also. Remember, it does not mean giving up, giving in, quitting, etc. Surrender truly means recognizing that we don’t control everything and that things are not going to go how we want all the time… and accepting this as a part of life. To me, surrender has more to do with acceptance and understanding on a deep level that the world is not fair and things happen for no reason, than anything to do with quitting.
As I share about my deeply personal parenting journey, I hope to be helpful to our readers and am of course open to any feedback or parenting stories you would like to share with us!
If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy with one of us, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
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