Kind Expectations

28 Nov

Expect children to act like children and you will never be disappointed.

child sink

My first reaction when I walked into this scene in my bathroom today: eww!  Then, I thought about how I have been teaching my son to put toothpaste on his toothbrush himself.  I did a little internal rejoicing as I remembered that he did not ask me to do it for him today, but did this all on his own.  I could have gotten angry and scolded him for making a big mess.  I am thankful that I paused and remembered that this is actually progress.  He is a child learning a new skill.  Learning is a messy process.

As I reflect on this mess and the ways I could react, it reminds me of some conversations clients and I have about expectations.  We often expect more of ourselves and others than is humanly possible.  Then when those expectations are not met we feel a range of emotions – guilt, disappointment, anger, inferiority.  Had I expected my son to put his toothpaste on his toothbrush neatly and wash the spit down the drain after the first time I showed him how to do it, I would have been disappointed or angry when I found this mess.  A wise child psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Dr. Bruce Perry, taught me that people usually need to hear something new at least seven times before they remember it.  One of my mentors in grad school, Dr. Roberto Clemente reminded us students at least seven times that “children are not miniature adults!”  Indeed not.  For children, everything is new.

Most skills we have learned have been taught to us by other people.  When we fail to meet our own expectations or others fail to meet our expectations of them, perhaps we could look at it from the perspective of a learning opportunity.  Did someone ever teach us how to do this seven times?  Has this child been shown how to spit into the drain seven times?  If not, can I forgive myself or them for making a mistake?  Could it maybe even be a joyful learning experience I can laugh about?

Narina Schulz

Narina is a licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in Lima, NY.



28 Jan

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Fun Times

24 Jan


We have so much fun together.  Yesterday you went skiing for the first time.  Not bad for two and a half!  Granted it was only for about 90 seconds total, but you did it!  Then we went to play on the playground at Hunt Hollow.  Your Uncle Will gave you your first lesson.  You also swam for the first time this week!  You have been in the pool and lake quite a few times already, but this was the first time you took your feet off the bottom willfully.  You were wearing only a bubble and wiggled around.  Nice job!  You squealed in delight.  Your thrilled voice echoed throughout the entire pool at the Canandaigua YMCA.  Tonight you chased daddy and I around the lake house dining room – kitchen – living room.  You think it is the best game ever.  Then at bed time I asked you to give me a kiss goodnight and you leaned over and stuck your tongue out at me!  I broke away just in time and we laughed and laughed.  Daddy laughed too.  I thought I better write that one down to tease you when you become a teenager.  It is wonderful to have you as a source of joy in our lives.

If you are an adult read this part: (It is especially great to have your joy in the house as we wait, and wait, and wait, and wait some more for contractors to work on finishing our house in Canandaigua.  We have been pretty discouraged with Key Homes this week as their scheduled completion date came and went without any explanation from them about their lateness.  The bank is now threatening to charge us an extra $2K if our builder doesn’t meet their deadline!  Cullen, if you are reading this as an adult – make sure you read contracts you sign.  Don’t trust what any for profit company salesperson tells you verbatim.)

You are two!

17 Sep


We have recently moved to our Keuka Lake house.  You talked about wanting to go to “New York” all summer, and when we  finally got here you cried and wanted to go home!  You are liking it a lot more now though.  You especially enjoy “all my cousins”.  You ask to go on a boat ride every day.  You love to play with the classic toys from the attic – plane, elevator, school, airport; all 1970 rendition.  You went from saying a few words here and there a few months ago to saying complete sentences now.  You can already “read” a couple books!  You have memorized “Good Night baby”  “Mommy and Me” and “The Going to Bed Book.”  Your laughter is infectious.  It’s easy to get a belly laugh out of you, which makes all of us laugh too.

You are very curious.  There was a boring library lady leading story time yesterday and you kept looking out the window talking about the stairs.  You then got up, and walked out the door while all the other kids sat their politely and listened!  Oops!  That’s one of your favorite books too, “Oops!”  Well if you develop ADHD that one will be my fault for drinking coffee while pregnant.  Gotta go, Daddy’s calling for my help because you are jumping on the bed.

In just a few moments…

1 Jun

Hello baby,

I expect this will be the last blog I write to you before you are born.  Your due date came and went earlier this week.  Yesterday the doctor said my body is ready to go into labor but it has not happened just yet.  He offered to induce labor artificially but I decided to wait for it to start naturally.  I am feeling different today than I have throughout the pregnancy.  You are sitting much lower in my abdomen and despite some pain I feel calm and patient.  I tried many ways to get labor started on Tuesday and Wednesday such as acupuncture, long walks, and spicy foods.  One of the interventions may have prepared my body for labor, but now I am leaving your birthday in God’s hands.

I am feeling many emotions as I think about your entrance into the world.  I am thankful that you are healthy.  The doctor says you are a poster child for the non-stress test.  I am scared of what I have been told will be the most painful experience in my life.  I am tired, because it is hard to sleep knowing you will be here within a couple days.  I am excited to finally hold you in my arms and meet the little person who is a product of the combined love of your dad and I.  That love comes from God.  Your dad and I would never have met and you would not exist if it were not for God’s love for us.  God brought us together at Christ United Methodist Church in Rockford nearly seven years ago at a time when I felt empty and cried out for God’s help.  God answered my prayer the next day at church by introducing me to Steven, and telling him that he would marry me.  Now God is with us as we prepare for your delivery.  God will be with us through this difficult process, and when we’re done we will have more love to share.



2 weeks to go!

15 May

Hi baby C,

We are so close to meeting you now.  My due date is May 29, or possibly May 25 if the last ultrasound was a more accurate predictor.  I’m going to get another ultrasound in 2 days to find out how big you are and if I need to have you sooner rather than later.  I am hoping labor starts naturally within the next week or two.  It will be great to be done with the aches & pains of pregnancy and finally get what this has all been for – you!  I switched to a different obstetrician last week due to a bad experience at the practice I had been attending.  Being pregnant has put me in a vulnerable place and unfortunately a doctor hurt your mom during an exam.  Thankfully your dad is well connected in the medical community.  He called a friend who got me in to see a different obstetrician so that I do not have to risk being delivered by the physician who hurt me.  I wish I could tell you that the pregnancy has been nothing but smiles and dreams.  As with everything in life it has had its highs and lows. 

A recent high point – one of Steven’s coworkers threw a baby shower for us last weekend.  You received so many presents from people who are excited about your arrival.  You are very blessed with so many gifts.  Your needs of food, shelter, medical attention and clothing will be taken care of.  You have two healthy parents who adore you and will make every effort to do what is best for you.  You have extended family members who will care for you as well.  Your genes will give you the gift of intelligence and emotional intelligence.  Your parents’  education and income will provide opportunities and perspectives that most children in this world will never see.  No matter what you do, God will always unconditionally love you.  You have so many blessings to be grateful for, baby C. Image

I am very grateful that I graduated with a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling just over a week ago.  Over the past year I have spent 900 hours counseling people who had difficult lives.  They did not have as many blessings as you do, baby C.  Many of them only had one parent, some had parents who abused them or guardians who stole from them.  Some of the clients are rejected by most people because they are different; such as the people I saw who are transgendered.  Some clients have had more blessings, but had trouble making sense of life and got caught up in negative thinking.  No matter what their experience, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to lend a caring ear to the people I saw during internship this past year.  It seems God is calling me to this line of work.  Some day you will find your calling too, but make sure you listen!  I started out as a TV journalist for selfish reasons.  I did not ask God for guidance when I decided to become a news reporter.  That was a mistake!  At least it led me to meet your dad in Rockford. Image

Back to today – I had a non-stress test and the doctor said everything is going fine for you.  Your heartbeat, movements, neurological responses, and my contractions are all within normal range.  The new doctor will be away on the weekends surrounding your due date.  He wants to induce labor when he’s here but I would rather wait for labor to happen naturally (because the medicine they use to induce labor makes it become very painful very fast!)  He’s going to check to see how things are progressing on Thursday and we’ll talk more about when it looks like you’ll be coming then.  He was not pleased with my preferences to have a natural birth without unneccessary interventions, but oh well! 

You may know by now that your mom prefers to have control over her life.  There are many things I cannot control, but I am pretty resistant to other people trying to control me.  Your birth is too important to me to go along with someone’s suggestion just because they say so.  I want to make sure that I do not get unneccessary interventions that put you or me at greater risk for complications.  I am also trying to avoid interventions that will interfere with our bonding after birth or cause me extra pain.  So we’ll see how it goes.  It would have been nice to have found an obstetrician who shares my views on avoiding unneccesary interventions, but as long as you get here unharmed and I get through the delivery without permanent injuries I will be content.  I am very excited to have you here to hold in my arms and start our life as a new family.  To meet you and be your mom will be the greatest gift of all.

Last trimester!

18 Mar

Hi baby C,

In two days I will be 30 weeks pregnant with you!  Last weekend your Aunt Mary Ellen, Aunt Michele, and Grandma Crain threw a baby shower for us.  There were so many people there who care about you and were there to celebrate your coming into this world.  They can’t wait to meet you!  Your Grandma & Grandpa Schulz drove all the way from Illinois to attend your shower, and my best friend Jamie flew in from Long Island to be there too. 

Your dad and I have been getting your room ready.  We have so many things for you that there almost isn’t enough room for everything!  Your dad has reorganized the layout of the nursery furniture about seven or eight times.  You know how he is with organization 😉

You have been very active in my belly.  Even the nurse practitioner was impressed by how big your movements were at our last visit!  They had me drink a cup of something that tasted like grenadine or cherry juice and you were jumping around on a sugar high.  I didn’t enjoy that test, but I’m glad you did!  Everything has been fine for you throughout the pregnancy so far.  I have not had any serious complications, just the regular aches and pains that most women experience.  I’m so glad that you are healthy and I hope you are happy too.  You will be worth everything it takes to have a baby.  I hope you come a few weeks early in May so that I can meet you sooner rather than later.




9 Feb

Here’s what you looked like at 20 weeks!



9 Feb

Hi baby! Here is an exciting look at you before you were born!

Waiting in Wonder

18 Dec

Hello baby,

It’s the time of year when we spend much of our time waiting.  We wait in line, we wait for packages to arrive, we wait for a break from work and school, and most importantly we wait for Christ.  Our culture emphasizes instant gratification and when we don’t get what we want right away we get annoyed.  Your own mom has trouble with patience, but when I feel the pressure building up in my head I remind myself that these frustrating situations are temporary and not important in the grand scheme of life.  “This too shall pass” is a bittersweet phrase.  I try to be grateful for the few short moments I have here on earth and remember that they will never happen again.

Waiting for you to arrive is much different than anything I have ever waited for before.  Every time I think about you, I can feel my head and heart literally fill with joy.  Recently I believe you have been moving around quite a bit because I have been feeling tiny little nudges in my abdomen.  I heard your heartbeat again on Friday and am so glad to know you are doing okay in there.  I look forward to your birth, but am also enjoying waiting for your arrival and dreaming about who you will become.

As you know, you were an answer to a prayer.  I asked God, “Do you want me to have children?  Please show me a sign.”  God gave me a very clear sign by changing my negative pregnancy test that night into a positive one to wake up to the next morning.  However, during this Christmas season, I am reminded that God’s intentions are much different than Santa Clause.  God did not give me you because I asked Him for a baby.  God has something else in mind for you other than granting my wishes.

Little baby, I am overjoyed to know that God has great plans for you.  I feel so honored that He has chosen me to be your mother, because God is bringing you into the world for a very special reason.  I am waiting for this reason to be revealed to me.  It is amazing to think that God is placing you on this earth because He wants you here.  Please know that you have a purpose.  Listen for God.  Watch for God.  He will show you the way and love you forever. 


Your mom