The morning of my son’s Christmas program at daycare, I found myself catching vomit with my bare hands. I quickly realized that even though he had been practicing “Jingle Bells” (very loudly) all week long, he would not be able to sing it with his class. And the thought of this made me sad—almost to the verge of tears sad. I felt silly for getting so worked up over something that happens yearly and knew that he would be up on stage next year. But it really got me down. I felt like I was missing one of those milestones that I expect to sit back and laugh at how cute he is and how big he’s gotten. So instead of seeing the day as a cuddle day with my sweet boy, I moped around thinking of how adorable he would have been on stage with his friends during this short season of being two.
Thankfully, by lunch I snapped out of it. But it got me thinking: how many times do I let my expectations get in the way of our family’s fun or just experiences in general?
Examples started pouring in my mind. Usually any “first” I took Judah and my husband to, I became this crazed person who expected things to go just right, and if they didn’t, then I was a little disappointed. The more I realized this, the more I wanted to dig into why I would act like this. My husband is a licensed counselor, so it usually doesn’t take me too long—in fact, he loves any excuse to show me how illogical I can be! After some brainstorming, I came up with these three lies I constantly tell myself:
1. If I don’t capture it on my camera, then I won’t remember it. Even typing that sentence out, I know it is a lie. But I still find myself believing it every time we go to do something new and exciting. I thought I had gotten better at just sitting back and enjoying the memory, but then a morning with Santa came this season. I nearly bit my husband’s head off for not having enough space on his phone to take pictures (even though I was the one who left my phone at home). I expected the day to go smoothly and take a picture here and there, and watch Judah have fun coloring, eating donuts, making reindeer food, and getting his picture with Santa. It was a great day, but I still had to do damage control and apologize profusely to my husband, who because he was trying to clear his phone, he missed elements of watching Judah during the experience and looked like a dad on his phone who didn’t really want to be there, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. But it was entirely my fault and expectations that put him in the position.
2. If it rains on a special event, he gets sick, or something keeps us from going, then my son won’t have as good as a childhood as he could have. How much pressure do we have to put on ourselves before we let some of these things go? We all know our time with our children is very limited, but that doesn’t mean that if they have to miss a Christmas singalong or if it rains on their party, then they are missing out on memories. I can create special memories just the same. My son is more than content with a little paint and construction paper. And if I spend 15-30 minutes playing anything he wants, then he’s kissing on me and hugging me the rest of the day, saying how much fun today has been. Those are the memories that stick. Events, birthdays, and holidays are wonderful, but I have to remember that if we can’t go and my mood is affected, then I’m allowing it to carry too much weight in my life.
3. If my son acts out in public, people will think I’m a bad mom. Oh this is a biggie. I am much more harsh in public with my son because I always feel as if there are eyes on us and judgements being whispered. But the truth is that when I actually look up, I see sympathetic grins or hear someone telling me a story of how they can relate. I need to remind myself that my son is two, and there are no awards going around for the best behaved two-year-old on aisle 5. I can’t expect him to always be obedient because he has emotions just like the rest of us and is learning how to express them in a healthy way. I can do my best to guide that process, but we all know there are some days where we’ve thrown in the towel. And it’s usually during that trip to Target or Winn-Dixie–with lots of witnesses.