Sunday, October 14, 2012
The Problem with Expectations
Thanks to Elizabeth Mendenhall for snapping pictures of the family this weekend. Two of the potential Christmas card shots!
Sheepishly I lamented to a friend that I'm cranky on Sundays. I certainly expected her to scold my negativity and remind me that Sundays are intended to be a day of rest. Instead, she agreed and added her own feelings. She said, "I think I'm cranky because of all the expectations I bring into Sundays. I think Sundays will be these great family days and sometimes it doesn't work out that way."
It was an aha moment for me, perhaps that's the root of my irritability too.
I certainly thought about my friend's comments today. I awoke this morning with great expectations for the day. In my head, I imagined a morning spent worshiping at church followed by an afternoon at the pumpkin patch with the family. Quickly, I realized the day would not unfold as hoped.
Chris worked late last night and it was up to me to get the boys out the door and off to church. Right when we pulled into the church parking lot, the skies opened up and buckets of rain drenched the sidewalk. I scooped up the one umbrella in our car and gathered all four boys (and myself) under its confines. As one can imagine, a single, tiny umbrella barely covers one individual, let alone five. What should have been a quick, peaceful walk into the church, turned into a WWF match under an umbrella. The umbrella was tugged from side to side and up and down with cries of "no fair," "I'm wet," and "Can't we just turn around?" By the time we entered the church, I was drenched and unaware that during the commotion my shirt became tousled and I was committing a major wardrobe malfunction right smack dab in the foyer of church. (By the time I figured it out, I'm sure several parishioners got an eyeful!) Even though church had its rough points, I held out hope for a lovely afternoon in the pumpkin patch.
Or so I hoped...
The thing about expectations is that not everyone in the family holds the same expectations as me.
My husband's expectations for the afternoon consisted of: nap, clicking on a football game, watching a football game while napping, more football.
My boys' expectations for the day centered on anything they could do electronically (and nothing that involved the word homework in it).
As the minutes turned into hours and we were still at home it became apparent to me that we wouldn't be visited the pumpkin patch this Sunday.
I began to sulk. My crankiness grew. I thought about my friend's comments about expectations. I was irritated because my expectations didn't get met. The more I explored that thought I realized the problem with expectations is sometimes it robs me of appreciating the joys right in front of me.
Today may not have followed my expectations of how the day would play out, but that doesn't mean it still wasn't good. Not going to the pumpkin patch meant I had more time to prepare a home-cooked dinner that all six of us enjoyed family style around the dining room table. It also meant my husband had time to work with my three-year-old on riding his bike around the block. The boys adored spending the afternoon frolicking with neighbor kids amid the fallen leaves.
When next Sunday rolls around, I'm going to think about expectations and remind myself sometimes it's good not to have any.