Managing my Expectations

There was an article that recently made it’s rounds on Facebook that’s been sitting with me. At first I scoffed at the title as being total click bait “The Silent Marriage Killer That’s More Deadly Than Sex & Money” but the article itself was well worth the read.

The gist of it is that we all have unmet expectations when it comes to our marriages, but also our children and our lives in general. And when these often unrealistic expectations don’t come to fruition, we get angry and resentful and take it out on our significant others.

This particular piece focused on expectations of a partner when you bring a baby into the mix, and I found myself nodding in agreement to so many of the things that the author wrote.

But this article also brought to light that I have unmet, and also unrealistic expectations for my children, in particular my older child. And it got me thinking about how my frustration with my son’s behavior lately is likely linked to that. Okay wait, I can’t take total credit. Special thanks to some wonderful girlfriends who I was recently venting to that actually made me see the connection.  Oh the power of mom solidarity. #momidarity

You see up until Charlie was about three, he was my only child, and it was almost like I was just along for the ride when it came to his social and emotional development. We catered to his learning schedule, we rarely expected him to master new things at a certain time, but rather we got excited whenever he did. Anything he had not yet mastered I put into the bucket of “not yet developmentally ready” and that was that.

But then the new baby came along, and overnight Charlie became the “big kid” by contrast. And while he continued to develop and gain independence at a very normal rate, suddenly I expected so much more of him. Compared to baby Lucy, I had these unrealistic expectations of what he could and should do. I lost my patience for tantrums and over-reactions. I expected him to suddenly master sharing and waiting his turn, and to tie his own shoes, because well, Lucy obviously couldn’t.  I wanted him to do more things by himself, not because I thought he necessarily should, but because I no longer had the free hands or energy to do them for him.

Now I wish I would have realized this months ago, before I found myself at my breaking point the other night when he was giving me a hard time at bed time. If I had stopped for a minute and remembered that my “big guy” is not yet totally logical, and he still needs to be coddled sometimes, maybe I wouldn’t have lost my shit.

But then again, maybe I should rethink the high expectations I have set for myself as a mom. Sometimes calm, logical mom is going to lose her cool. In fact, sometimes I just need to lose it a little to get back to normal. And well, that’s okay too.

A silver lining to all of this is that I think some of my high expectations, while not necessarily always age appropriate, have helped Charlie become an exceedingly independent, self-sufficient little guy. And for that I am proud.

Now if I only can get him to pay the bills and do the dishes, we’ll be golden.

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