(Not So) Great Expectations.

January 19, 2009 at 8:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations these days.

Expectations of myself. As a working mom. As a wife. As a person.

Expectations of my husband. Of my son.

I don’t think there’s been a day in my life that hasn’t been colored with some sort of measuring stick. If it wasn’t the competition of being the fastest kid on my block, it was the pressure from my parents to bring home the grades they felt was reflective of my intelligence. Or the need to “fit in” in junior high and early high school (in which, as an aside, never happened. So around sophomore year of high school I just gave up and did my own thing. In fact, I worked hard NOT to make friends with one group of people; I instead tried to be nice and friendly with everyone. Consequently it wasn’t until my adulthood that I actually had a best friend who was a girl).

And then there were the years after college, when I was single, and working, and living downtown Boston. Where I didn’t eat much at all, and worked out all the time, and was the skinniest I’ve ever been – but kept looking in the mirror and seeing a fat girl.

And then unemployment. And career change. And marriage. And infertility.

And now motherhood.

I know that I expect more of myself than Baby O does. I WANT to be supermom. I want to be fun, and have a gorgeous and clean house, and spend time as a family doing fun things, and keep taking time for myself.

But it hit me this weekend, when yet again we didn’t manage to get our to do list finished. And in the meantime, screwed up Baby O’s nap and eating schedule. And instead, I found myself rushing around, stressed out to the max, while he fussed because he was tired and hungry.

Newsflash, Serenity. YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL.

And that’s OKAY.

So for the first time in my life, I am letting go of my expectations. Giving myself leeway to go to bed at 8:30 at night instead of washing that extra dish. To get down on the floor with Baby O and play instead of clearing off the table right away.

I am NOT superwoman, and I shouldn’t expect it of myself.



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  1. Its so hard to accept that you can’t possibly do it ALL. I’m still learning this lesson everyday. Good for you for allowing yourself the leeway you truly deserve. I think both you and baby O will be happier for it! 🙂

  2. Yee-ha! Don’t it feel great?!?!?! Such a burden off your shoulders, when you can just let go and do what *needs* to be done, and not worry about everything else that the little voices in your head try to tell you *ought* to be done.

  3. One of the hardest things when dealing with a baby is how to fit the needs of the baby into the needs of the household. Especially if you are used to a set of standards that may or may not have been set too high.

    As I sit here in the kitchen with the lap top, there are dishes in the dishwasher to put away (my husband’s job, but he had to go to a dentist appointment), there are dishes in the sink to get washed, there is Willow in the high chair, getting fed by me, Michael has just come down and wants to get food for his iguana (and I reminded him yet again to do homework) and I am trying to not be depressed and look for a job…oh, and think of doing something with the kids for MLK day…

    It never ends…but you learn to prioritize…those dishes might not get done, but you will be happy anyways.

  4. Agreed. Our house might not be sparkling (though it’s not a disaster by any means), but boy do we have fun. I’d much rather take that than getting all the auxiliary chores done, and I’m glad you’re starting to see that. 🙂 My overall biggest expectation is to have a good time with the time I do have with DD. I figure otherwise, what’s the point? 🙂

  5. Good luck juggling it all! Enjoy Baby O as he will grow up way to fast! Dust and dishes will wait! 🙂

  6. I hope that this new attitude helps you all around. I think it is a good place to start.

    Love the new header, btw!

  7. Again, another post I could have authored myself. You said it perfectly! The rushing around, the guilt, the anxiety that not everything is getting done…I go psycho. When really, the twins don’t care if the floor could feed a village or the dishes are rotting in the sink. It’s just me with my sky-high, unrealistic expectations. I have to work on letting go, because there’s anxiety in letting go too…
    Well said Serenity. And way to go on gaining perspective!

  8. You’ve taken a look into the window that is my life!

  9. good for you

  10. erma bombeck had a great quote about letting the grass get high because playing with children is more important. i can’t find it! of course i am nursing and searching and now typing one handed.

    but i know its hard. yesterday i made the decision to let the nanny see our messy house instead of straightening so that i could spend an hour playing with cate. now that i type it…it does sound crazy…b/c duh…but yesterday a.m. it was so much more important.

    i hope you have a house cleaner? we do and that helps.

    but you’re right–the most important thing is to quit being so hard on yourself. promise?

    women with messy houses unite!

  11. When it comes to things like housecleaning and other household chores, you definately need to prioritize. When K was crawling all over the place, sweeping and vacuuming took a higher priority than dishes and cleaning off the kitchen table.
    A good friend of ours had a tip that she used, one task per day. Vacuuming is a Tuesday job, laundry a Wednesday job, etc. Things like dishes just get done when you can. I would play with K until she went to bed, get her to sleep, do the dishes, then veg with P.
    You definately have to let some things go, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning… no longer. Bathrooms? I have left that to P, whose version of a clean bathroom couldn’t be any further from mine. However, I had to let that one go, I just can’t justify the time to worry about it or “fix” it.

  12. I could have written this, and probobly should have. No wait, I should READ it….and so thank you , thank you Serenity for writing it.
    I feel like you wrote every single thing that I am feeling lately. Like “am I measuring up?” “is this TIRED normal?” “why does it seem like other moms can do this and I can’t?” .

    Reading this took a piece of guilt off me and let me know that other women feel this too, that it’s ok to leave the dishes, or fold that laundry tomorrow, etc. It’s ok because Baby O and Gio and Jacob will only be these babies today and tomorrow and looking too far ahead only makes the expectations that much greater.

    your post HELPED me today and I am sending big internet hugs for it. THANK YOU my friend to showing me that we are all human.

  13. Definitely you need to set your expectations at a realistic level. Good luck finding it!


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