Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Expectations (A Mommy Post)

I have known for a long time that my expectations on just about everything are to high. I was raised to "live up to my potential" and grew to expect everyone and everything else to do the same.

What, most of the time, it has gotten me, is a lot of frustration, words I regret saying and general heartache.

So when several years ago, a dear, dear, dear friend told me that once she lowered her expectations of her husband, their marriage went from barely tolerable to excellent. They even had another kid.

When she told me, I was stunned. This friend and I are a lot alike so the fact that she would "settle" was way out of my ability to understand. I told my Mom about it. We had a good laugh.

It is funny how much my judgment of people comes back to bite me in the tookus. Because for all the condescending thoughts I had about her mental shift, I realized today that she was absolutely right.

I was sitting in the car early this morning, listening to Focus on the Family on KSBJ while I waited for my running partners to show. They weren't late, I was out of bed way to early for some dumb reason. I heard Jim Daily say that he used to get so mad at his kids, especially the older ones, when they were little because they didn't do things his way....and the first time he told them.

Well, this has long been my beef with the girls. As I was thinking this, he said "I soon realized that if I stopped making my children a project and set the bar lower, much more appropriately for their ages, I developed the kind of relationship I always wanted with them."

2x4 to the head. Right.Smack.In.The.Middle.

It wasn't just the early hour. It was the truth staring me in the face. The majority of the problems I have with my kids are me and my wildly out of proportion expectations of their behavior, especially for their ages.

So, I tried to lower the bar today, what did I have to lose? Blast if it didn't work. I didn't expect them to listen the first time, so when they didn't, it was ok - I helped them. And when they did - HALLELUJAH!

This also got me thinking about the expectations I place on myself, which are also way unattainable. I am not the person I used to be. I have experienced so much emotional trauma in the last 6 months - my relationship with Dave, the girls, family, friends, The Lord and especially myself will never be the same.

So why do I endure the torture of comparing myself to the pre-diagnosis days?

This is but the first step in a long journey, one we are seeking professional help with too. But it is a step in the right direction.

Maybe it isn't so much about having lower expectation but rather RIGHT SIZED ones. You know - 7, 4 and 36 year old sized ones.

(Funny sidebar, I long since stopped expecting Dave to be the perfect husband. When I stopped expecting him to be perfect, I found out he was a whole lot better one than I could have ever "made" him to be. Now the question is, why did it take me this long to figure it out with the girls....and perhaps most importantly, myself?)


Jen said...

Loved this mommy post. It's a lot easier to be understanding and kind to the people we love when we can be those things to ourselves. You are good.

Alison said...

Perfect Post for Me Today - I have been struggling so long with how a particular boss hurt me so much during my last job and subsequent lay off, and the mixed messages she has been sending me about hiring me back, which have confused the heck out me, and jaded my opinions about business and friendships in general. I have been working real hard on just letting the issue go, and find peace, even though my personal expectations of what I think everyones morals should be rarely, if ever, live up to my ideal. Like you said, a 2x4 to the head is sometimes required to realize that other people will never behave as YOU would, or would like them to be..understanding that makes the hurt of life a little more bearable!

Gindi said...

When Sam was still in ECI, one of the therapists told me to say, whenever they did something frustrating, "What do you think you are, 1?" (or insert whatever age they are) She said it was a great reminder that, oh yeah, they're just one, chill out. I should remember that as they're hurtling off the sofa....