I think everyone feels this way at one point in time or another. For me, it’s rather often. I have great expectations regarding life and quite honestly, they’re just unrealistic.
This past weekend, my husband took our oldest son fishing on one of their two annual “man weekends.” So of course, that leaves just us gals at home, and of course, the baby boy. So with a “man weekend” comes a “girls’ weekend.” The problem is, my daughter also has great expectations. In her mind, girls’ weekend is a 24/7 event with no end and no limitations to all of the things she would like to do with me. It was exhausting and so frustrating because no matter what we were doing, she was constantly asking what we were doing next. She’s always this way, but this past weekend it was extremely intense…to the point that every effort I made to do something special felt like it was being washed out by the prospect of what was coming next. She doesn’t mean to be that way, and it’s not that she’s ungrateful because she’s not. She’s very appreciative after everything we did, but her personality is always waiting for what will happen next. I know a few adults like that, and I have to somehow help guide her with this personality trait, or she will end up like them…never as happy as she could be in the present moment because she is constantly living for the future moments.
Then there’s me. I have all these great ideas. I have the preconceived notions of how I want a day to be or all I want to accomplish, and 90% of the time, it all ends in disappointment, followed by my best friend, guilt. I’m my greatest enemy in this aspect, because I set myself up to take a fall. I naturally overwhelm myself to the point that nothing is even remotely enjoyable, and I end up feeling like the worse version of myself. In Ana’s world, she would have every hour of every day scheduled with a particular activity, whereas myself, that type of schedule will make my head pop off its shoulders. I’ve always been that way. I can do alot on my own. I don’t mind the challenges. However, if I have “things to do” every single day, my mood changes drastically. It’s like walking around with a grey cloud over my head. It’s just how I am and have been since I was a child. I can have three weekends packed with things to do, but if I have 4 weekends that way, I’m miserable.
But I had some wonderful advice from my Aunt the other day. She stopped by to visit in between the chaos of activities Ana and I had planned. I told her how frustrated I was because Ana and I had had a little “tif” earlier because I was trying so hard to do all these things, keep in mind I have a 23 month old and a 1 month old to tend to in addition to Ana, and I felt like no matter what we were doing, she was creating a list a mile long of what else we still needed to accomplish. She told me that we needed to communicate. First, I need to communicate to myself. That sounds funny, but in actuality, I rarely do this…in fact, I think I skip that step quite often. She told me that I need to write down all the things I want to do and then look at the list and figure out what is realistic and what is not. This listing method extends beyond my day with Ana. For instance, many times when my husband and I actually have a day off together, I end up disappointed at the fault of no one but myself. The reason is, in my little head I must have all these expectations of how we can enjoy our day together, but at no point in time do I ever communicate them to him. It’s like I just think all of the stars will align and our perfect day will just exist. The problem is, it doesn’t work that way and at no point in time did I ask him how he envisioned his day. My failure to communicate prevented my perfect day because no one can read my mind, and had I even clearly thought out my expectations or wants to begin with, I could have determined what was and wasn’t realistic. Had I communicated, we could have decided what was priority or what would make us both happy in doing that day, and I wouldn’t have this self inflicted disappointment. My Aunt told me to talk to Ana and ask her what her “perfect girl’s weekend” would involve and then tell her my version, and then together, figure out what we can actually do and what we cannot. Maybe some of the things Ana wanted to do could be saved for future free time we get together, which is where compromise comes into play.
What I am teaching her is about priorities and disappointment and how to live with disappointment. Life isn’t rainbows and butterflies. She won’t always get to do everything she wants to do. But if I can teach her that feeling disappointed isn’t the same as feeling defeated, well that’s huge. I can teach her that she can have endless expectations, but failure to communicate and prioritize will just leave her always wanting more. Ironically, I can teach her all this while learning it myself! How much farther ahead will she be? I love my aunt. Who would have thought that all I ever needed to do was just communicate with myself and stop expecting everything to magically fall together?