Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Word (Or a few hundred) on Expectations

Yesterday's MOPs was so good. so good. you know when a certain theme in your life has been coming up again and again and then something happens to sum it up and connect the dots? well...that happened.

Our pastor Lou spoke on relationships and Expectations. I capitalize it because they are that heavy. I think that not that long ago i realized that once i give up certain expectations i have i am instantly happier. For me the most recent example was that when Bryson turned 5 I think I somehow for some reason expected him to not whine anymore. ha! like maturity would hit at 5 and he would be cured of all childish behavior. I dont exactly know why i had this expectation...where i got it from...but it was there...and it would come out to him...."Bryson you are FIVE shouldn't be doing this" eeks...that makes my heart hurt that i told him that...i realized (luckily) that every kid is different - there is no magic age...not that i should tolerate whining. we saw this 11 year old kid whining to his mother and saying the most awful things to her and we both were like, "how can we not have a kid like that?" that sounds kinda awful now that i write it out...but i am sure if you are a parent (or especially if you aren't) you have said that at some point "i dont want my kids to turn out like THEM!" i don't know - its not a bad thing i guess - you sometimes need visuals of why you are telling your 5 year old for the 5,687th time that they need to not throw something or to stop talking with your mouth full or to say thank get it!!

anyway...back to expectations. one of the most challenging aspects for me as a mom is the lack of sleep. i love my to be even more tangential...two true stories: #1) i broke up with a guy in High School for waking me up...he even woke me up with crappy am I? My brother warned him, even, "I wouldn't do that if I were you!" he didnt listen and he totally got broken up with...#2) In college my sophomore roommate told people i was a vampire because i would stay out all night and sleep all day (just for a semester i was able to have all afternoon was amazing)...but now i am a mom and it literally took me 3 years to stop getting mad at my children for waking me up. 3 years. that is a long time to be mad at your kid. i realized even more recently the reason i would get so mad is that i was comparing my kid to "those kids" who slept through the night when their parents brought them home from the hospital. "the kids" who slept from 7-7..."the kids" who told their parents they were tired. "the kids" who enjoyed napping. my first child was from a different planet than "those kids"...he is from planet the sun maybe...not a planet...

so once i gave up the expectation that i was EVER going to sleep through the was an instant transformation. the nights i did happen to get sleep i was so so so so grateful. the nights where i woke up several times i just chalked it up to paying dues. i seriously can't tell you how big a thing this was for me. 

i remember a speaker at MOPs from a while ago who talked about anger and the things that trigger anger: 1. blocked goals 2. invasion of privacy 3. physical pain 4. unmet expectations and i forget the fifth do you remember? anyway...this has been good for me because whenever i get in an angry rut (which somehow amazingly happens once a month if you get my period innuendo) i try to force myself to think which of these have been triggered the hardest...its usually #1 or always one of those...i totally gave up the privacy thing after birthing my first child....and then physical pain went along with that too i guess! but when my goals are blocked i get mad...even if they are silly silly good for not much goals, like writing an email or taking out the trash or something little like that...lately i have been in a BIG rut...namely because of sickness that has invaded my family, changed shape and circled around twice and have made us hermits for almost a month. 

the anger stems from me just before getting sick to thinking that i am finally getting my rhythm back...working out again...sewing again...sleeping again...yeah - i totally have this 3 kid thing down...i am so on track right now, then you go - how is this nice gross virus to totally humble you and put you in your place and realize that motherhood is not a stroll up a mesa, its a roller-coaster, so hold on tight!!

and i was angry...for like a week...angry...and then my husband got over me and politely told me that i needed an attitude adjustment...and when i didn't hear him the first time, he told me a little more sternly, no really - you need to snap the fart out of again...i viewed my unmet expectations...i viewed my blocked goals...and there they were...the expectation that things get easier...the unmet goals of all the weight i was going to lose and things i was going to do...just giving it all a voice helps. just speaking the unspoken helps. just speaking it and forgiving yourself and realizing your limitations help.

there is an ongoing inside family joke that is in the form of the 12 step prayer that hung in our bathroom growing up....which now hangs in my bathroom here (why my mom thought this would be an appropriate bathroom hanging is beyond me) "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference"...oh how i cling to this prayer in my stage of life!! 

facing your limitations...accepting your limitations...and being at peace with that. i so so need more of that. as a mom the biggest disservice you can do is compare yourself needlessly. and we all do it. please stop. please accept things you can not change (i should enter an extension here "with your child"). you will be happier for it...i promise! 

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