Like most moms, I have expectations.
Expectations for my kids, my husband, myself, our homeschool, and lots more.
I expect my kids to eat the meals I make gratefully and enthusiastically. I expect them to be helpful and keep our house clean. I expect them to love each other and always treat each other with respect. I expect them to work hard. I expect them to be quiet indoors.
I expect my husband to cheerfully go to work and provide for our family. He is supposed to notice me, compliment me, help me at home, and play with the kids. He should of course be an amazing parent.
I expect myself to exercise, eat healthy, learn, grown, spend time with my kids, and a million other things.
I expect homeschooling to be easy and fun. I expect my kids to learn, read, and follow instructions in our homeschool. They should be excited to learn. They should help their siblings, clean up, and always be kind.
If everyone would just follow my expectations, life would be so much easier.
Those expectations seem so innocent, but they set me up for failure.
Time and again the people I love, and myself, fall short and fail to meet my expectations.
When they fail, I am grumpy about it.
I’m annoyed, disappointed, and frustrated.
If everyone would just follow my perfectly thought out plan, everything would be wonderful and I could be happy!
When my son says he’s not hungry and doesn’t want to eat lunch, and I think he “should” eat lunch because tonight is the trunk or treat and I don’t want him to only eat junk today, I set myself up for failure. I think he should eat and he doesn’t want to. My only option to make my expectation happen is to try to control him through convincing, arguing, and consequences aimed at changing his behavior.
This leads to an epic power struggle and neither one of us is happy.
I realized that when I struggle to control him and make him eat lunch, I care more about my future son than I do about my current son. My future son who I don’t want to be hungry or overloaded on sugar seems more important to me than my current son who is not hungry.
Why does the future son’s needs seem more important to me than the current son’s desires?
What if I stop telling all of the people around me what they should do and start listening to them.
Are they hungry?
Do they want to learn?
Do they want to be kind?
Forcing them to eat the food, learn the lessons, and say sorry when they have done wrong shows them that conforming to other peoples expectations is more important than listening to themselves.
Who is to say that what I want for my son is more important than what he wants?
I know what you’re thinking. If you start listening to your children’s desires without expectations, then everything will be chaos. The kids will eat candy for dinner, never learn anything, and always be unkind.
The question is, instead of focusing on what they should be, who do you want to be?
Do you want to argue, threaten, and force?
Are you being the mom you want to be?
If the answer is no, then why not?
Because of the "shoulds".
If everyone in your life did do all of the things they “should” do, then what? What would you get to experience?
Peace, joy, love, excitement, and happiness.
You would get to be the mom you dreamed of being.
So you argue, threaten, and force right now, in an attempt to mold people into the version of themselves that you can be happy with, so that someday you can finally feel good once your expectations are met.
It makes perfect sense...Feel bad now so that someday you can feel good.
We’ve been taught that the princess in the fairy tale is happy when she finally gets everything the way that it “should” be - the prince, the castle, the happily ever after.
But what if there is no destination for happiness?
There is no point we will arrive at where all the things go our way and we finally get to be happy. It’s not coming.
This may seem like disappointing news, but it is the best news ever!
If you don’t have to wait until your expectations are met to enjoy your life, you can start enjoying it right now!
The question is how?
If your expectations didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be so disappointed all of the time.
Let go of your expectations and start noticing what is.
Release all of the “shoulds” back into the universe. Just let them go. What if they weren’t even an option in your vocabulary?
How much time have you spent with your kids arguing, convincing, and threatening, hoping to create the future moment you picture being amazing, while wasting the moment you are currently in?
You don't have the future in this moment. You only have what is happening right now.
And there is no point in the future that is better than now.
The moment when my son isn’t eating his lunch is just as good of a moment as one where he does.
The only difference is that in the first I am angry and in the second I am happy. I’m a human being, sitting at a table eating lunch in each. Why do I choose anger? Because of the expectations I have that are not being met. If I let go of the expectations, I could let go of the anger.
When the people in your life do something you didn’t expect, just like if you were watching a movie, you can think you know what would have been better or what should have happened, but it gets you no where.
You are not the director of a movie and your kids and husband are not actors.
There is no script and you don’t get to direct anyone.
Another option is to sit back and enjoy the show. Even the plot twists, the unexpected turns, and the disappointments.
The only thing you can do is show up how you want to show up.
Stop thinking about what “should” happen.
My kids shouldn’t do anything. My husband shouldn’t do anything. I shouldn’t do anything. And we don’t have to do homeschool today.
What do your kids want to do? What is your husband doing? What do you love doing? What homeschool do you enjoy? What are we doing? What do we want to do?
Do those things.
Stop fixating on what "should" be and start appreciating what is.
What is, is beautiful.
Open your eyes and see it!
P.S. Read the previous post about fear here.