Monday, September 9, 2013


... another post written while at the beach.

I guess I subconsciously knew it was coining, deep down inside. The toddler's attitude had been a slow, but steady,  decline. And since I am going to be completely honest this post - so was my attitude and subsequent tolerance.

I just wasn't quite prepared... I am never prepared for myself to shed tears.  I hate crying. I am an ugly crier. I get a headache after 3 tears. And unless they are tears of intense grief or great joy, I tend to think what's the point in crying. If I am totally honest, I probably view crying as a sign of weakness . And weakness is not an adjective I ever want to be associated with.

If you are a friend of mine who cries easily, I swear I don't think you are weak. In fact, I probably admire this trait in you. I just have to hold myself to a different standard/expectation, you see.

Expectations are tricky things. A friend's mom once told her,"no expectations, no disappointments." So true! 

I try to remember/employ this when going into new situations or potentially unpleasant situations. You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised, so why think up every negative possible outcome. Because I have never been known to do that before.

Typically, my expectations for experiences, for lack of a better word, is pretty neutral. In fact, I really try to maintain neutrality in all my expectations. 

I would love to say my expectations for people around me is neutral as well. However, I am female therefore I am pretty sure that statement would be genetically impossible. I am trying to mature in this area. I am learning to express, in appropriate ways and times, what my expectations might be for individuals in certain circumstances, because apparently people aren't mind readers. Wish I learned that handy tidbit a bit sooner. If I don't tell my husband that I would really like to have pictures taken of our family at the beach this year, I have no right to be mad when they don't happen. 

This might sort of have been the case the last 4 beach trips we have taken. 

Here's the funny thing about expectations and this post. I had this title saved in my drafts with a few bullet point thoughts. It's been there for several days. I honestly thought I would write the post after we got back home. But here I am, on Thursday evening, closed up in mine and Jared's room, writing this, while others are taking care of my daughter. 

I should probably mention I look like a wreck, and can feel a head ache coming on. If this combination seems to remind you of what happens to me when I cry, feel free to imagine that could have also recently been happening. I also like to help add my own details when reading other author's writings.

I am not good at keeping expectations for myself neutral. There is, in fact, no neutrality on my own personal expectations. I am all or nothing. I used to think I had the ability to be perfect, or at least that should always be my goal. Life has funny way of teaching you you are not in anyway capable of perfection. But more importantly, as I have matured in my walk with Christ, I realize perfection isn't the goal, and I am becoming more comfortable in my imperfections. Ultimately, I realize my imperfections are simply my need for more of Jesus in my life. 

Sometimes I am better at accepting this fact, then other times. 

I think I am fairly well aware in most of my expectations of myself, that I naturally set the bar too high. And that not attaining the level of perfection I originally hoped for is ok. I may take a bit accept it, but I generally get there. 

Except in one area I just discovered  - parenting! But we will get to that later. Oh don't you worry!

Recently, I am realizing (and this is all kinds of embarrassing!) that while I have extended grace to myself, I don't think the people around me will, and still expect perfection. Apparently, I am not as "free" in this area as I thought. What kind of awful prideful person am I to think that people might actually think I am capable of perfection? As if they don't see my many short comings and failures. Ugh, I disgust myself at times, 

So because of this nasty habit of mine, I put myself under undue amounts of pressure to attempt to meet what I assume are others expectations of me. Yes, that is correct. I apparently can read minds and know what people expect of me without them even having to tell me. 

Don't you wish you could be my BFF?!?!;)

But I am trying to get better at this, because, unfortunately, this sets me up to become bitter and resentful towards people. You know, for those expectations they have of me that I saw via telepathy. 

Yes, please spend a lot of your prayer time praying for my husband. And blessing my parents that they didn't kill me while trying to raise me!! God bless the three of them!!!!

Another way expectations will get ya - just when you think you have really made strides in having realistic expeditions, life throws you a curve ball. Let me give you my afternoon and evening as an example.

Jared and his dad played golf this morning. A very well deserved round of golf, away from the needs 
and expectations of the women around them. This meant, I got to wrangle Ellie by myself at the beach, until after lunch. My sister law was there most of the time and is a great help, but I am sure (via my telepathic marvels) she doesn't think playing with/caring for her niece for more then 5-10 minutes at a time is her idea of a vacation. This was not one of Ellie's better days at the beach. I was overall ok with the state of things, as she is 19 months old and attempting (frustratingly) to learn how to convey her thoughts and opinions, and exert her will. She is new to this phase of life, and isn't going to do it perfectly.

She wanted to dig for 30 secs, then started crying because she wanted to go to the ocean. We go to the ocean, and she cried because her shoo-shoos (shoes) got wet. Well, sister what did you think was going to happen in the water? She wanted to eat, but cried when she finished her bananas, bar, oranges, crackers, pouch, and pizza. Oh, and she didn't want to drink water out of her sippy cup, but only out of a screw top water bottle, which she is not skilled at, so cried every time the water poured all down her front. She wanted to walk, but 5 minutes down the beach she wanted me to carry her. And let's just say, at 34+ wks pregnant, my "hold ability" time and physical capability is rapidly diminishing. Keep in mind too, she will walk for 30 minutes  at a time for everyone else, but not me. Then she cried because she couldn't catch a seagull, or grab the kites or the airplanes out of the sky.

You get the picture.

No, it wasn't fun, but it was ok-ish. It's at the end of the vacation, we have been gone for a week already, and I am tired too.

I was even completely ok with the knowledge that I would need to be the one who sat in the condo that afternoon while she napped, as my husband had kindly done it the day before.

Expectations were pretty neutral, and my acceptance of reality was fairly good.

We decided, as in Jared consented to my implorings/beggings/nagging, to take family pictures one the beach this evening. This meant we would have to skip going out to eat with his family. Unfortunately, I realized 3/4 of the way to Myrtle Beach, that I had left my DSLR camera with the remote, and tripod a home. Thankfully, I still had my point and click camera and iPhone for photo documenting. We would make do.

Then I started feeling the pressure of "I wonder what his parents think about us skipping dinner tonight." Not that they have given me any reason to worry about this. I just telepathically knew they thought we should join them for every dinner this week. 

However, I purposefully didn't ask Jared what his parents reaction was when he told them our plan. Typically, I would have asked no less then 5 times if they were ok with it. Growth people!

Here is another funny/frustrating tidbit about myself. I am not a people pleaser in the sense that I will do whatever anyone else wants me to do. I am fiercely independent and cling to that independence! I am a people pleaser in that I want people to like the decisions I make. 

I am a gem, I tell ya!

Ellie was excited to be headed back out to the beach in a "pee-pee" (pretty) dress. The steps on the board walk were some of her favorite pass times all week.

Her excitement lasted all of about, oh, 5 minutes. I had even been set the expectation that she would probably want/need to have some kind of toy in tow, and that it would show up in every picture. But hey, that's real life! As it turned out, she took her toy otoscope (thanks Doc McStuffins!) down to the beach, and then added to the collection a shovel and bucket.

After 5 minutes, disaster struck. Imagine an epic toddler meltdown. We had that x10!

We tried everything - redirection, distraction, prayed, sang Jesus Loves Me, etc...

She proceeded to act like we were cutting off her arms and legs.

To make matters worse, Jared could walk her a little way down the beach, and she turned back into her sweet usual self. However, as soon as she saw me - screams, tears, flailing, etc... she wanted me to hold her, but the fits continued!

We finally accepted defeat, and headed back to the house. With a toddler who screamed all the way back to the condo, and for an additional 30 minutes back in the condo.

I had thought I was ok with her antics earlier in the day, and maybe I was. But now my patience was more then used up. And I was ticked. This new screaming whenever she sees me habit she has formed, while still wanting me, has taken a toll on me this week. I was done! I basically told Jared to deal with her, and went to our room. Something I never do.

After a battle of the wills, Jared won, and brought Ellie to me to apologize. We cuddled for a minute, and decided she wanted to eat some Mac and cheese. Got her set up in her chair with food. All seemed good, but I was still a wreck inside. Jared's family got back, and immediately she turned on her sweet charm. For 5 minutes.

Then we made eye contact. And the "mommy mommy MOMMY!" wails began again. Thinking that maybe she was just embarrassed by her previous antics, which definitely happens to her frequently, I got her out of her chair and told her she could finish eating in my lap. Instead, she preferred to scream, and basically scale her way up my head.

Before too long, I was back in our bedroom, door closed, boo-hooing that my child didn't love me, I was a bad mom, and I didn't understand what I had done so wrong!!! I had kept her on her schedule, even while on vacation. Had chosen specific battles to fight, and others to let go. I realized traveling for 10 days would be rough on a toddler. I had tried to do everything I could to make it the best possible experience for her. But all she wanted to do was scream in my face. Clearly, the I must be the worlds worst.mother.ever!!!

Jared calmly reminded me she was 19 months old. Her reasoning was not all that intact just yet. Thankfully, he refrained from mentioning that perhaps I was tad emotional-hormonal with pregnancy. Instead, he told me to stay in the room and rest, and he and his family played with Ellie. Who, I could hear was just being absolutely precious and fun. 

So I cried some more.

Then I cried even more upon realizing that even though I could hear her being all sweet and fun, and sweetly calling out "mommy! Mommy?!" while looking for me, for the first time ever, I didn't want to be near her. In fact I wanted walls and space between us. Worst.mother.ever as well as the first to ever feel such awful things, I  am sure!! :)

45 minutes later, she was bathed by her grandmother and aunt, and I had cried off all my picture worthy make up. I heard a sweet little knock on my door, followed by," uh, Mommy?" I got down on my knees, opened my door and was greeted by sweet little arms around my neck, and my daughter's head on my shoulder. 

Ellie crawled into bed with me, along with her milk cup and oof-oof (stuffed puppy dog) and watched a Doc McStuffins episode before bed. I got some seriously sweet snuggles. She wanted to give everyone kisses goodnight, but wanted me to put her to bed, so we got in a few more sweet snuggles.

We have a pretty set prayer we say every night. Tonight however, she and I prayed specifically for grace for and from each other as we navigate life together.

While I want to maintain neutral expectations overall in life, I have decided there is one area where I want to keep my expectation high. And that's for grace. Grace for myself, grace for my daughter, grace for my husband, and those I am in contact with. 

Something else I realized through my tears tonight - the fact that I had reached the end of my "today" rope in patenting, simply meant Amy was used up. But now, God could show with great ease, without the walls of my expectations blocking Him. 

Oh, and that tears might be semi-therapeutic after all. Crap!

I am also fairly certain my in-laws are now questioning my sanity, as well as being, understandably, concerned about the subsequent well being of their son and granddaughter.

At least I have succeeded in lowering their expectation of me. After this, they are keenly aware I am not, after all, perfect. ;)

Lucky, 30 seconds before my daughter's complete come apart, a sweet man snapped 3 pictures of us as a family. Two of them turned out alright.:)

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your thoughts here. Parenting is just around the corner for me, and I have no doubt I will reach the end of my parenting rope -- probably much sooner than you did.