Monday, May 15, 2006
I'm realizing that most of my frustration and disappointment in life comes from my own expectations not being met. Most of these expectations are things that I project onto my husband and children and others around me. Then, when they fail to meet my often unexpressed expectations I get annoyed and frustrated with them. Or I expect things to be easy, and they're hard, or to stay clean and they get messy. But the problem really lies with me.
Last summer we went to the beach with my two best friends. Both of them got down on the sand and played with the kids and got all messy and had a great time. I stood there watching, not wanting to get dirty. It showed me something about myself that I needed to change, and it had to do with my expectations again. If I'd have expected to go and get messy and had counted on some extra clean-up time and dry clothes to change into I'd have had a lot more fun that day. After all, you can't keep the kids out of the sand, so why not get down and have fun and make sand pits and castles and memories together?
How often I've been disappointed in my husband because he hasn't done or said quite the thing I secretly hoped he would do. Certain days, like birthdays, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, have often come and gone and left me feeling empty at the end. Not because my husband ever forgets or fails to to do something for me, but because I had built it up in mind that it would be a certain way, and then it wasn't. My unrealistic expectations weren't met, and I went to bed feeling just a bit slighted. What a rotten, bratty, ungrateful attitude! My husband is sweet to me and lavishes praise on me every day of the year, and yet I've let these silly days leave me pouting inside.
God has been dealing with me about this and as Mother's Day approached this year I resolved to expect nothing from my husband, or my kids as they're too young to even know what day it is. No dropping hints ahead of time, no setting myself up for disappointment. And you know what? It was the best Mother's Day ever. Because my attitude had changed I was able to truly appreciate the simple things Erik did for me and the joy of just being with my kids throughout the day. Erik got up with the kids and let me sleep in (which he always does on the weekends.) The day before I'd commented on the beautiful poppies in the yard and he picked some and put them in a vase for me. It was sitting, along with a square of chocolate, on a piece of graph paper on which he had written a heartfelt note to me. And then he made me scrambled eggs and even did (most of) the dishes.
I was able to appreciate my husband for who he was and how the things he did reflected him. My graph paper note means more to me than some pretty card that cost $4.59 at Wal-Mart. The things he wrote were from his heart, not the pen of a card-sentiment writer. I will fold it up and tuck it away and read it over and over. My little vase of poppies brings me joy even as I watch the petals drop one by one. I will remember my little boy greeting me with "Happy Mother's Day" when I finally got up in the morning, then sitting out on the deck with him and finishing "Farmer Boy" together. And my sweet baby girl who lights up when I walk into the room.
So, little by little, I'm trying to get rid of my great expectations, or at least bring them down to the realm of reality. Instead, I will enjoy the moments I'm given with the people I love and appreciate them for who they are. I will take off my socks and shoes and get down and dig in the sand and run in the waves with my kids. I'll try to think more about how I can bless my family then how they can bless me. And I think we'll all be a lot happier for it!