We were having a family afternoon together. The kids, my husband and I had just finished watching a film and were about to play some games, when I had an idea: we could all cook dinner together after the games!
I then created an expectation in my mind that was what was going to happen: we would all have fun making something in the kitchen. Strange, considering I didn’t communicate this with anyone!
All I said when the games were over was “come and help mummy make something.” No one came. The kids said they wanted to play a game on Echo. And that was that! My expectation crushed.
It may seem like a small thing. And it was. But it affected me.
Unmet expectations in motherhood
The times when I felt the pain of unmet expectations the most, though, were in the first stage of motherhood. After we got back from the hospital, I just expected life to go back to the way it was.
But what happened was that I had to deal with baby blues, colic, sleepless nights, dirty clothes, and limits to my personal space!
And then there was also the inner turmoil that came from being a mother. I really didn’t expect it to happen. I just assumed that when I became a mother I would feel happy and that was it.
But the inner turmoil came and I didn’t understand it. It wasn’t because of my children. It was all me.
My desire to control circumstances, my insecurities as to other people’s judgement of me, my discontentment when things didn’t go my way.
All these came up to the surface, and my great expectations for motherhood were ruined.
However, things are better now. Not perfect, of course, but so much better. The reason for this is that I have learnt a few things that have helped me with this whole aspect of expectations and reality.
What I’ve learnt about expectations
The first thing I learnt is to let go of expectations. Instead, I’ve learnt the importance of making plans with the people involved. Plans in which I consider their preferences, and not just mine.
It’s not always easy to do, but life becomes so much easier when I do this.
The second is that I need to accept the flow of life when things don’t turn out as planned! And this isn’t very easy either. I still get frustrated when things don’t go according to plan. But I’m learning.
The covid-19 pandemic is proof that life sometimes throws a spanner in the works. It has taught many of us that we simply can’t control all circumstances.
I have come to see, however, that there are things I can control. I can control how I approach my circumstances. I can decide to choose joy and to choose gratitude.
I can choose to persist in my goals, even if that means doing things differently from before. And I can smile in the face of adversity and live with purpose, even when things aren’t going my way.
Lovely outcomes of ruined expectations
I’ve actually come to see that it’s in the midst of pain that I have forged the greatest relationships in my life. And it’s amid trails that I have learnt the most about myself, about others, and, most of all, about God.
I really believe that my trials have led me to love people more, to grow in patience and creativity and to appreciate what I have.
So today, I choose joy. In the midst of adversity. Because it’s there for the taking.