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?