I wrote this four years ago when we first moved here. As I pack and prepare to move again, it’s probably a good time to remind myself to evaluate my expectations.
Actually, maybe this is a good reminder for all of us this holiday season.
I have a confession to make. Last Saturday morning, I threw a temper tantrum. If I thought for a second I could have gotten away with it, I would have thrown myself down and kicked my legs and pounded on the floor.
Since I couldn’t do that, I wrinkled up my face and hissed out my frustrations. I fumed and fussed and let it all out.
And what was I so upset about? Well, my balloon had burst.
You see, I had some expectations — expectations which, in hindsight, may or may not have been completely unreasonable. And when everything didn’t work as I had planned, I felt like a balloon recklessly whizzing around as the air sprays out.
Before we moved, I had it all planned out in my head that we would get here and as we unpacked, everything would be organized and put into its place. I expected that fewer belongings plus a new living space plus all my plans for organization would equal a tidy, neat home.
Of course, I did not factor in the children unpacking some of their own things and ignoring my organization plans. I somehow forgot that we’d have to live a normal life — playing and eating and wearing clothes, making messes, dirtying dishes, dirtying clothes — while we were unpacking and organizing. I did not factor in that all of our personalities would stay the same, and none of us seem to be super organized or neat, by nature.
So when reality crashed into my expectations last Saturday morning, my balloon was pricked and went whooshing all over the apartment, spewing blame and frustration all over its path.
And though I did have some valid complaints (Seriously, how hard is it to pick up dirty laundry from the bathroom floor? And it is painful to step on LEGOS!), I now realize that I elevated my expectations and plans to god-like status.
My expectations for organization and neatness got out of balance; and, in that moment, my expectations became more important that my relationships with my family. In my moments of frustration, I foolishly regretted the way I had spent some of my time since our move — time I spent playing games with the children, loving on them, taking them to the park, baking with them, helping them adjust to their world being turned upside-down. Really, I know that spending my time doing those things was far more important than unpacking and organizing. It just took me a while to take those thoughts of frustration captive to the truth.
My dragon-momma temper tantrum is what happens when my plans get unbalanced. When I expect myself to fit into some standard that God never planned for me. When I compare myself to other moms, other wives, magazine articles, Martha Stewart, of course I’m going to get frustrated and want to scream! I’m attempting something completely unrealistic, unfair, impossible . . . ridiculous!
And though I’d love to tell you that I’m mastering this tendency to compare myself to an ideal, I must confess that I did it again yesterday. This is a lesson I will probably learn again and again and again. I’m sort of slow that way.
Some days, I will get all the laundry folded and the dishes washed and dinner in the crock pot hours in advance and still have time to play twenty rounds of Don’t Break The Ice. Some days, I will have a healthy afternoon snack for the children, and they’ll quickly and cheerfully do their chores. Some days, all my charts and lists and plans will pull together and the schedule will click and life will be perfect. Aaaaaah. And it will feel good and like all is well in the world.
But other days, the children will throw clothes on the floor and write on the walls and dump all the toys in the middle of the room, and the car will break down, and I’ll dump an entire carton of eggs in the hall, and tired children will fuss and cry and argue. Some days, people who don’t know me at all may jump to conclusions about me, and I might feel inferior and like I don’t measure up. My child may scream at the top of his lungs in a store or fail a test or burp in class. And on those days, I will be tempted to scream and fuss and feel like a total failure.
But I don’t think that’s what God wants for me. I don’t think that’s what God wants for you, for any of us.
God doesn’t expect perfection from me. He wants me to love Him and other people. And maybe, just maybe, He doesn’t always want my life to go according to the charts and schedules. Maybe the interruptions are Divine Interruptions. And maybe the relationships I build are more important than the tasks to be done.
Maybe the expectations I have for myself are only those I’ve made for myself and not at all what my Father expects from me. And maybe the point is that I learn to love God and other people, and -more importantly- ACT like I love God and other people, especially in the middle of complete chaos and mess when all my plans and schedules and charts and lists are falling apart.
That’s so much better than turning into temper-tantrum throwing Dragon-Momma.
How about you? Are your expectations for this holiday season unreasonable? Are you focusing more on your list of tasks to be done than on your relationship with people around you? Do you ever breathe fire and spew smoke out of your nostrils when you step on a LEGO or trip over shoes left in the middle of the hall?