Friday, August 16, 2013

Expectations Schmexpectations

I feel like God has been teaching me a lot about my expectations lately.

Particularly the expectations I have about parenting.

And by "teaching" I mean "showing me how one sided my view is."

Here's the thing:  

  • I expect our girls to obey.
  • I expect them to obey the first time.
  • I expect them to obey the first time with a good attitude.

Of course I should expect them to obey the first time with a good attitude.  But, sometimes a vast majority of the time I don't prepare myself for (or expect) them to disobey or overreact or do any number of unexpected things.

Oh, and here's another thing:  when we do something special, I'd like it if they didn't complain during the process.

Yes, complaining is bad...the Bible talks about that.  It certainly doesn't generate a thankful heart.

And still another thing:  I'd like it if there was less crying.  In general.

I mean, if you get hurt, crying is fine.  If you are emotionally wounded, please cry so we can process through your emotions.  But, the other day Maggie was crying because Leah and I both had owies on our arm and she didn't.  Yes, she was crying because she wasn't hurt.  That's the kind of crying I'd like to cut back on.

Anyway, back to the expectations :)

Sometimes when I expect the girls to obey and they disobey instead, I get frustrated.

Sometimes when I expect the girls to have fun on an "adventure hike" (this is not and they complain about not having a water bottle or being too cold or too hot, I get discouraged and wonder why I try to do special things with them.

Sometimes when there is so much unnecessary crying that I can hear it in my brain when it's quiet, I want to lay on our bed without moving and eat ice cream (that kind of movement would be fine :)).

I'm not super fun to be around when I'm in those negative mindsets of being frustrated, discouraged, and immobile-y eating ice cream.

It sarcastically hit me the other day when I was in the bathroom and one of the girls was knocking on the door, another was crying, and the other was ringing the doorbell (obviously) and I thought to myself, "Of course!  Of course everyone and everything gets crazy when I have 1 minute to myself.  Of course!  Why wouldn't it!?"

After the sarcasm of my thought dissipated, the truth remained:  expect the negative thing to happen, too.

Now, I've come to realize that I'm an optimist.  Not an annoying, over-the-top optimist, but I do generally think that things will work out well.  So it feels unnatural to me to find encouragement in expecting my children to disobey, or complain, or constantly cry.

But, the ray of sunshine in the negativity is that when I expect them to disobey (without losing the expectation of obeying) and they do disobey, I find that I get less frustrated. 

And, yeah, they still get a consequence.

When I expect them to cry or complain when we are doing something special, I take it in stride and realize that the complaining is largely due to the fact that they just say every.single.thought. that enters their brains and they really don't mean anything by it.

For example, take a look at this picture.

I know, I KNOW!  So adorable, right?  This was right around nap time and she was really mellow.  I expected that I would lay her down for a nap, and she would fall asleep.

I did not expect her to fight her nap by playing with everything in her bed and then scream to keep herself awake when she got bored playing.  Not to mention she was a wreak for the rest of the day because she was so tired.

Did not see that coming.  

So, while the screaming was occurring, I took it upon myself to get tense and frustrated and irritated.

In case you were wondering, those are not usually the adjectives I want ascribed to me.  I'm certainly not at my best when I am tense, frustrated, and irritated.

What would happen if I expected Gracie to fight her nap?  Would that guarantee that she sleeps?  

Nope (I wish).  But, my attitude changes when I'm not surprised.  I can have a plan to help her sleep or encourage her in good behavior.  I can not be the mommy with an Eeyore-esque storm cloud above her head.

And that's better for all of us.

The bottom line of what I'm learning?  

Expect the good but expect the bad, too.  

It pays to be mentally prepared for what you don't want to have happen.  This certainly doesn't mean that I want the bad or am okay with my daughters' disobedience or think that crying and complaining are awesome.  I'm just ready for it.

The important part about being ready for it (for me), is that I'm far more likely to let Jesus meet me in the midst of it.

That's a win all the way around!

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