Expectations. We’ve all got them.

In fact, we often have high expectations; especially of ourselves and the ones we love most. Expectations can be great. They have the power to motivate and kick us in the butt. They push us to do our best.

  • Like when my boys look to the bench and see the coach/team cheering them on, expecting them to do their best. They find another gear and push themselves to greater things.
  • Like when I’ve spent the afternoon chatting on the phone to my sister and find myself looking at the clock only to realize that Steve and the kids will be home in 15 minutes, dinner isn’t started and the house is chaotic. I am seriously motivated to perform cleaning/cooking magic. I call myself a homemaker, so surely they are entitled to a few expectations.
  • Like when Steve prepares for yet another of my birthdays and remembers back to the time he surprised me with a Jackie Chan movie, action packed with martial arts moves and sword fights. Mostly assuredly not what I expected. In order to avoid the polite cough and compulsory smile he received following the unveiling of that little gem, he is extremely motivated to remember his gift recipient prior to heading to the checkout line.

Hurts like the dickens

But expectations also have the power to be destructive and hurtful, especially if they aren’t set appropriately. 

  • Like when my boys dress for the big game, with their parents/grandparents in the audience and they have the expectation they’ll surely play, only to hit the floor/field for all of 30 seconds. Hurts like the dickens because it wasn’t what they expected.
  • Like when I see other ladies who I’m certain roll out of bed looking that good, go for coffee daily with their trendy friends, exercise because they just love it, all while keeping their houses neat and providing nightly healthy, home cooked meals…I’m expecting something of myself that isn’t even based on reality, something I can’t meet, let alone any other earthly woman.
  • Like when I come home from the hairdresser and no one in my family even notices the 4 inches taken off and highlights in my hair. In my house of men, the lack of comments on my hair style has never been an issue for me until the day I came in expecting them to notice and they didn’t.
  • Like when on my birthday, I was expecting a hand written love note along with a small token of Steve’s undying love and affection and instead got a Jackie Chan movie. 

Lowering the Bar

Inevitably, I will have expectations. I expect my children to be respectful and obedient. I expect them to try their best. I expect similar things of myself.

But if I’ve gained any wisdom over the last 40ish years, I think it’s that I need to carefully examine how high I set my expectations; of everyone, of myself, and especially of those whom I love fiercely. I know my kids (and husband) desire to please me and so perhaps lowering my expectations to a place where they can confidently achieve them will give them a chance to experience the glow of pride in a job well done.   

  • Instead of walking in and waiting for one of them to say, “Oh mom, how beautiful your hair looks. Such shine, such bounce, such body!” (Okay, maybe my expectations are set a just a TINY bit high); I walk in and tell them I got a haircut because guaranteed, they’ll want to tell me that it looks nice. Nice is as eloquent as I’m gonna get so I might as well love it.
  • Instead of expecting Steve to sweep me off my feet like Prince Charming on birthdays and Mother’s Days, thereby putting him on high stress for a week ahead of time, I go in with no expectations at all. No expectations is truly the best policy in these situations because then any gesture of love or consideration, no matter how awkwardly done or uniquely male inspired will be received by me with appreciation and pleasure.

Besides, it turns out, when you live in a house full of boys, Jackie Chan is a major hit. Makes for a night of laughter and family fun.

How unexpected!