I have this new theory that I've developed over the past few weeks. I'm sure it's been around for a while, as it is nothing new. For me, however, this realization has helped me look at several areas of my life quite differently, including motherhood. It's been a refreshing change.
Here it is: Anytime I get frustrated or upset by something it is because my expectations have not been met. If I were to get punched in the face, then I would be upset because I expect not to get attacked. If I get angry that there are toys all over my house at the end of the day, then it is because I expect no toys to be pulled out and played with. I've come up with several big and small scenarios in my head. So far, there are good expectations (like not getting punched in the face), and there are not-so-good expectations (like my kids not playing with a single toy all day).
For a few weeks, I thought that the only way for me to avoid getting frustrated at the unimportant things was to lower my expectations. I've done some serious changing here. My girl Patty puts it a different way. She says to "lean in." I've lowered my expectations, I'm leaning into my place in different aspects of my life, and I'm accepting several harsh and not-so-harsh circumstances.
Certain relationships will always be strained. We'll always have bills. The temperature will never be right. I'll always have things wrong with me, and I'll always have a hard time admitting it because I'm scared to come out of my hiding place...There are so many more things that I think about-things I've accepted long ago and things that I still hold onto in expectation of something else. The list gets even longer when it comes to parenting.
Is the key to a happy life to perfectly match my expectations with the outcomes? I've been doing that for a couple of weeks now, and it's been refreshing. Letting go and lowering expectations is one of the most freeing things I've done lately. It's changed my perspective to something more realistic, but I've also found it a little exhausting. I stirred over this a little bit more and had my second little light bulb go off in my mind (that likes to toss-and-turn over so many big and little things all day long). The key, I believe, is to have patience and understanding when my expectations are not met. Oh my, how this changed my parenting! It changed how I addressed my funk that I got into the other afternoon. It helped me see that my biggest asset as a parent is to have patience and understanding.
Dear child, I expect you to obey me, and I will have patience and understanding when you don't. You don't obey, and I'll understand that you're still learning and I'm still training you and I'll patiently discipline you to help teach you what to do.
As I go through my day, I change my expectations. I have patience and understanding when things don't go as I think they should. While this sounds simple and basic for probably everyone else, it's really helped me look at my life with so much more openness. I'm free from making sure everything goes my way. I'm able to absorb the small, simple times of my day with peace and delight. I'm happy that I don't have to be in control of everything. Things will happen out of my control, big and little, but patience and understanding cover a multitude of disappointments.