Our Expectations Kill Our Joy
December 14th 2021
This morning (at about 4:30 am) I was rocking my son as I nursed him and thought to myself..."why do I allow my expectations to ruin this moment". This is a feeling that I have had many times over this last year of motherhood and looking back now I can see that this is a theme for so many things in life.
My son had been sleeping through the night for quite some time and now for the last month or more he has been waking up once per night. I have tried to see if he will fall back asleep, but I usually end up going in there and nurse him. He almost always nurses and goes right back to sleep with no problems. We even get that magical moment where he falls asleep on me and I just sit there and rock him for awhile. This is especially magical because he is one of those "go go go" kids and does not like to sit and cuddle (despite my greatest efforts). Even though the end result is always this peaceful time that we get to spend together, I still often times allow this expectation to creep in that says "he should be sleeping through the night" or "he used to sleep through the night and now you are forming these bad habits". And all of a sudden in a flash that joy that could have been is gone. These thoughts result in me becoming overwhelmed, frustrated and make this moment so much bigger than it needs to be. Most of the time my insomnia keeps me up scrolling on instagram at random times of the night anyways, so it isn't the fact that I am up when I would rather be sleeping. It truly is this unrealistic expectation of what "should" be happening that is busting into this beautiful moment and stomping on it.
This concept bleeds in to so many aspects of my life when really thinking about it. I can remember special anniversaries or vacations where I thought "this was supposed to be the perfect day (night, week, etc.)" and one small thing got in the way and killed what beauty was actually occurring in that moment. Have you ever been here? This past year I turned 29 and it was my first birthday as a momma. I took the day off and was going to be able to spend the day with Cooper and I was just in a funk. I think the weather was really crummy that day (thank you April in Illinois), or maybe Cooper was just having a rough time and off his "normal schedule". Anyways, I just didn't feel like things were going "as planned" and I allowed it to ruin my day. My mom is truly the best mom in the entire world and like always she even made every effort to make my day special. She offered suggestion after suggestion, but it just didn't seem to click. Instead of stopping and just soaking in a fun and relaxing day with two of my favorite people (Cooper and my mom), I just let it get the best of me. This expectation of what "should have been" killed my joy.
And the funny thing about all of this is that we all have our own set of expectations for ourself, for our life, for our children, for our marriages, for our jobs. There isn't this unwritten set of rules or a set picture of what "perfect" looks like. Often times what we think in the moment is a disaster or the situation that we are frustrated with, someone else is likely looking at it from the outside thinking "wow that is actually what I am dreaming of". So it's not a matter of just lowering out expectations. Because no matter how low or high we set that bar for ourselves, if our underlying mentality does not change then it is never going to be enough. It is a mindset shift that needs to happen. It is an understanding that no matter what life throws our way, we need to be able to adapt and just find the joy rather than being worried about what "should be". It is me stepping back and saying "wow, I am so grateful that I get to spend this time cuddling with Cooper". It is me realizing that it isn't the things that we do on special days that make the moment, it is how we feel and what we make of it.
Cooper is going to be turning One this next week and I took the day off for his birthday. I will be honest, I already have started to set myself up for failure when it comes to allowing my expectations to get the best of me. In my mind I am thinking "he is turning one, this is a big day, I need to make it so special". The fact is, he doesn't need some fancy day doing a bunch of things that I think he might enjoy. This is only going to result in us getting completely off of his schedule, likely missing his nap and me just spiraling into this tunnel of mom guilt that the day wasn't perfect. He will be just as happy with some homemade pancakes and some one on one play time with his new toys I am sure he will get from his party. And if the day takes us elsewhere, we will go with it.
It truly is the small moment and the people that matter.