Expectations. We all have ’em.
I have them of myself, my husband, my boys. I have them of the rest of my family and my friends and even the teenage kid who bags my produce at the store.
At the same time, my husband, my boys, my family, friends and strangers who walk by on the street, even you – yes you – readers of this blog, have a certain expectation of me.
That’s cool. I can handle that. I mean, if the expectations aren’t too high. Or too many. Or worse, completely unknown to me.
So let’s talk Mother’s Day for just a second, shall we?
With one sweet little baby in tow, Mother’s Day was a delight. All he could do was smile and coo and he got me flowers and life was grand. But fast forward a few years and there were 3 munchkins, very close in age, all begging for all of my attention every single second of every single day. These days are easily summed up as the “I’m exhausted” years and when Mother’s Day rolled around I had great expectations.
The expectations were pretty simple. I got to be the one to sleep in and not get up with babies. I didn’t have to make pancakes for any munchkins. I didn’t have to change that first diaper or wipe the snotty noses. My husband knew this and, as good husbands do, he tried to make it happen. Tried, being the key word.
What it meant though was that I heard crying and whining through the closed bedroom door as I tried to relax in bed. I heard I-want-mommies being whined out and I heard an exasperated Dad trying to remedy the situations and give me rest. But let’s be honest, it wasn’t restful.
When I would finally succomb and roll out of bed I would walk into the madness that was other days known simply as the kitchen. But not today. No, today it was the craft zone and wrapping paper factory and breakfast in bed making place. In simple terms, it was a mess.
Expectations. I had them and they were high and the problem was that no husband with 3 munchkins under 4 could pull off what I was expecting. It simply wasn’t humanly possible.
I tried to make my requests lighter over the following years and while they seemed lighter in my mind they really weren’t. I mean, angelic children who want to snuggle and tell me how lovely I am all while serving me chocolate with no calories and farm fresh strawberries in May. Oh, and they should know that what I really wanted for a gift was that sweater I saw at the mall yesterday and not paper flowers. Cause paper flowers suck, man, and I’m a good mom and if you really appreciated all I do every single day then you would buy me expensive things!
Oh wait, you’re 4. I didn’t tell you about the sweater, nor do you have a paying job, a car or are even allowed to cross the street alone.
Expectations. They were still just a bit high.
This year I gave some good thought to dropping it all. The thoughts involved not just lowering expectations but to not really having any. Because how is me expecting certain things really allowing my children to celebrate something about me? It’s not. It’s me being a selfish jerk who demands things be done a specific way (ie. my way) and then pouts like a 2 year old when I don’t get it. Oh, except I’m a mom so my pouting usually looks more like yelling and telling everyone what a horrible job they’re doing and then not talking for the next 3 hours as I stick my nose in a book and say things like, “I’m fine.” What I’m really thinking is, leave. me. alone! And, how dare you leave me alone? And do better next time. And this sucks.
But it’s not just Mother’s Day, is it? It’s all the time. We expect certain things from various people and they may or may not know about it. They may or may not be capable of it. They may or may not even care!
So this year I entered Mother’s Day a bit different. I prayed. I read a lot of words about my role and who I am and who’s I am and what I truly deserve. In short, I entered with a perspective that I enter every other day with and not a day that screams “Celebrate Me!” “Tell me how good I am!” “Show me how valuable I am!”
I woke up with the expectation that I would get out of bed and let the dog outside. That I would make some coffee and help prepare breakfast and clean up the mess that followed. I assumed that my nails would remain unpainted throughout the day and that no one was going to whisk me off to Paris for the day.
Guess what happened?
The day was perfect. It started with breakfast in bed that was still warm when I got it and an Americano just the way I like it.
I was shocked and so pleasantly surprised. (Because I had no expectation.)
Then I was told to follow the trail of hearts. It went on for a long ways and someone did a LOT of cutting the night before, apparently when they were supposed to be sleeping!
“Did you do this?” I whispered to my husband who shrugged back and said, “Had nothing to do with it.”
I was thrilled! Know why? Because I didn’t have “spa! spa! spa!” hopes beating in my brain. Rather, no expectation.
The trail o’ hearts led to a stash of cards and goodies made by my boys. Homemade cards on lined loose leaf from the cupboard. They were scratched out in ball point pen. They were messy, like their writing always is. They weren’t coloured. But they made me cry because they said such beautiful things that were so THEM!
As the tears trickled down my cheek the boys reminisced about the year prior. “These are happy tears, right mom? Not like last year when you were crying in the office and said you wanted a re-do!”
Erm…I’d forgotten about that. How do you explain to your kids that those were your sucky baby days and you’ve grown up now and you love their messy, wrinkled cards and beaded bracelet and bath salts made with love during art time at school.
This mother’s day didn’t look THAT different from the others but it was so incredibly different because I was so incredibly different. I didn’t expect their rooms to be perfect or that they wouldn’t drop a crumb on the floor at breakfast. I didn’t expect lavish gifts or perfectly scrapbooked cards. I didn’t anticipate that they would be someone they’re not but rather went in knowing that these are the precious gifts that have been entrusted to me to raise. These are the treasures that I want to spend my day with. The boys who are sometimes too loud, and often naughty. The boys who burp and laugh and crank the music so loud we have to yell and still can’t be heard. The boys who want to give me a special day and show that with trails of hearts and home made bracelets.
Expectations. It wasn’t my kids that made past Mother’s Days so lousy, it was me. It was having a hope and a thought of how I ought to be cherished. It was having expectations. Without them, things were better. Things ARE better.