Archive for the ‘expectations’ Tag

Normal   Leave a comment

I observed last week that my life seems to be zipping along at a ridiculous rate, and I now have quite a bit to look back on.  What this made me think about was that in many ways, I’ve managed a variety of difficult situations, or chronic problems, over the years.  What I didn’t know starting out was how ongoing the problems would be.

There was always something that I was waiting for the resolution of.  Always something that wasn’t done.  First it was waiting to have my first child.  Then I had to recover from the experience of having my first child.  Then once I had adjusted to motherhood, I had to figure out what happened to me during that first labor and birth.  Once I figured that out I was ready to have another baby.  Then I had to contend with over two years of secondary infertility.

In all those months, things really weren’t normal and they weren’t wrapped up.

I did finally become pregnant and I did have my daughter, at home, avoiding all the problems of the first time.

The transition to parenting two was still a bit difficult, but after the first few months things were normal for a while.  Then she started waking up at night.  Once we got past that, we had diagnoses for my older child, who then needed some therapies.

By the time I had my third child, I figured things would sort out once I dropped the volunteering.  But, my third child slept much less at night than the first two had and we spent months trying to get that challenge sorted out so I could sleep again.

You can see where this is going.

I can count only a couple stretches of time where things were normal, where I wasn’t dealing with some challenge in life with either my children, their health and well-being, or my health.  So I’ve been living it for over twenty-two years now, and that was it.  That was my normal.

And, this year, we just finished a couple of months of what I guess I’d call sort of normal? it was summer, so there was travel, and family, and college orientation, and things to fit in that we didn’t do during the year, and recovering from family events, but there weren’t any major crises besides watching my husband deal with Boston area traffic, so I guess that was normal.  Maybe?

But, then school started with a bang this fall, and the one going to college locally has required more support than expected, and things have really picked up at work for my  husband, so…

Maybe you can take something from this, especially if you are at the beginning of the journey of parenthood.  I pray you get periods of time where it stays the same or there are no major problems to solve.

But it will be normal if you don’t.

Posted September 25, 2018 by swanatbagend in parenting, reality

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Letter to my 21-year-old self on the eve of my wedding   1 comment

Dear Self,

Congratulations.  You got a man.

Now for the rest of the story.

Very important: everything you’ve heard or read about not being able to change a man is true.  I’m sorry to have to break it to you, but you can be saved days/weeks/months/years of beating your head against the wall, if you stop trying to change him.

He can change and he will change in some areas of life.  But he’ll change when he is good and ready, or when God changes him, not when you change him.

Prime example: TV viewing.

Give it up.  He is going to watch TV. He is going to watch shows you don’t like, too many hours of TV, stupid commercials, you name it.  But it isn’t going to work to nag him.  It isn’t going to work to put the TV in the closet for the first three months of your marriage.  He will just want to get it back out again.  Don’t fight it.  Because you picked a good one, and when the rubber hits the road, and there is something that is important that needs to be done, he will turn off the TV and do it.  (But he might do it quicker if you don’t bug him about watching TV.)

You can’t imagine the life events, difficult, challenging, sad, exhilarating, which will meld you to your husband over the next twenty-seven years.  And that’s all right.  It’s good, it’s messy and it’s difficult.  Just live one day at a time–you don’t need to figure out in advance how to solve the problems you don’t even have yet.

You won’t believe how much better sex is after you have given birth vaginally, than before.  At first it won’t be the love fest you imagined.  But–good things take time.  It will be worth the wait.

Also, you aren’t going to believe how hard it will be to communicate openly and honestly.  I know, you’ve done the premarital counseling, and the two of you rate yourselves pretty high on honesty.  You think you really know how to problem solve.  You think you can talk about anything.

Wrong.  But you’ll learn.  You’ll learn about instantaneous communication on a gut level which is unique to the two of you.  You’ll also learn that you can be married for decades and think you have made a decision about something together, only to find out he, or you, have no memory of the conversation in which said decisions was made.

Then you’ll learn how to renegotiate.

Oh yes!  Very important!  This is something our American culture does not advertise or appreciate like other cultures do.  It’s a secret, but I will tell you now–

When you marry him, you marry his family.  And he marries yours.  You have no idea how important these wonderful and crazy people will become to you after years of being related!  It’s the craziest, most frustrating and most wonderful aspect of marriage that you will not hear about in advance.  Your mother-in-law is worth her weight in gold.  Your kids will be so blessed by their aunts and uncles.  You will walk through the valleys and the joys with more family than you had before.  Make the best of it–and the most of it.

Also very important.  He really does need to make love more often than you would prefer.  Just love him the way he needs to be loved.  It’s like what you need from him–he doesn’t understand why you need him to listen to you talk, or why you need a back-scratch, but he meets those needs even though he doesn’t understand.  Taking care of each other unconditionally is the foundation of a strong marriage.

He will insist on putting barbecue sauce on the meatloaf and pork chops you make which already have their own sauce.  Just ignore this; commercial barbecue sauce makes him happy.

Oh, also, he will teach you to appreciate big dogs.  Surprise!

You will never love him more than when he agrees to take the whole family camping out west for the second time–when he thought the first time was a “once in a lifetime” trip.

He will become both intimately familiar to you (a great comfort) and yet continue to surprise you on a regular basis (a great joy).

You will find out he is not Prince Charming, although his teeth really do glow in the dark, and he smiles often at you (apparently because he is easily pleased).  He is just a regular human being, and he will let you down some of the time.

Right now, you think that because you both are good-looking and smart and snappy, life will just fall into place as planned.  Wrong.  You may be all those things, but life is no respecter of attributes.  It takes a lot more than good looks to get you through a crisis.  But that’s where your husband will prove his worth, trust me.

To take the pressure off for tomorrow–

First, it really will be all right if you go on your honeymoon without your favorite pair of pink shorts that are still at the cleaners.

Second, don’t waste time worrying tonight and tomorrow morning before the wedding about whether you are making a giant mistake.

You’re not, because it’s a lie that there is one “Mr. Right” out there and you should agonize about whether he’s it.

Twenty seven years down the road together, you will know that he loved you enough to make himself Mr. Right.








Posted November 6, 2015 by swanatbagend in marriage

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The Top Ten Mom Roles I Did Not Anticipate   Leave a comment

Every potential mother has ideas about what it will be like to have children.  We all have expectations.

OK, maybe delusions would be a better word.

There were areas I could imagine–just barely–but I could understand and foresee them.  I could visualize myself reading children books, tucking them in, taking them camping and giving them Christmas presents.

Hmmm.  That’s actually about it.  I don’t think I ever really understood that I would be cleaning up their messes, feeding them 6 meals a day, and all the rest.  Diapers were purely hypothetical until I actually had an infant and my husband and I had dropped off Grandma at the airport for her return flight. There I was in the restroom, baby on the changing table, to discover a giant explosion that could not be contained by any diaper.  I didn’t have enough wipes. There was nobody else in the restroom.  I think I called, “Help!”  (Yes, really.)

Then I did what any new mother ends up doing.  I waded right in with paper towels because that was what I could reach without moving the baby.  I don’t know if those little pants were salvageable.

So you learn the basics pretty quickly.

But there are surprises that no one could have predicted.

Here are my top ten unexpected roles.

10. Amphibian search and rescue team.  I found myself with a salamander in one hand, moving leaf litter with the other hand, so that the second salamander could be given its worm.  I had to peel back layers of rotting leaves before I found the thing sandwiched happily into the decomposing strata.

9. Chauffeur.  Needs no explanation.

8. Ship’s counselor.  I knew that I would be comforting children when they scraped their knees, and sympathising when the boy didn’t notice them and went out with the best friend instead.  I just had no idea the span of support that actual people need, and how hard it is to comfort and guide when you don’t have all the answers.

7. Home school teacher (with fifteen years of experience). Absolutely not!  Not in my plans, no way, no how; I am looking forward to my child leaving home so that I can do other things and have some time to myself already.  Hmmmm…..what’s that?  You say my child will be bored in public school and needs more stimulation?  You say, kindergarten is easy; anyone can teach kindergarten?  Give it a chance?  I turn around, and whoops!–I had to count up the years of experience to put in this list, because I’ve lost track, it has been so long.

6. Short order cook.  Again, this probably needs no explanation.

5.  Tooth removal patrol.  By this I mean the fact that you as the parent are ultimately responsible for removing your child’s loose teeth, because if they don’t come out within 48 hours of the dental hygienist mentioning their eligibility to be removed, it will cause dental damage that can only be fixed by expensive orthodontia. Thus, you are supremely motivated to get the tooth out of your child’s head.  However, it is your child’s head, not yours we are talking about here.  So, you turn into the tooth removal patrol and take up a full-time job nagging the child and getting slime on your fingers, until the tooth is finally out weeks later and dental disaster is averted.

4. Family cheerleader.  Some children need more encouragement than others. You, Mom, are it!

3. Sherlock Holmes.  Specifically, Sherlock who specializes in finding lost tiny items. Tiny items are incredibly precious and thus must be taken to bed. When they cannot be found amongst the bedding, you are the Sherlock who will find them.  At 2 in the morning, in the mostly dark.  While simultaneously averting the potential emotional tragedy of this event for your child.

2.  Amphibian Houdini rescue team.  Ah yes, this is what happens when you allow your children to keep the tiger salamander they have found because your nature-type Fish and Wildlife friend says they are so easy to keep and care for!  Not endangered so no problem there.  When your child loves amphibians, and you don’t want her to get a tree frog, you can always just keep a salamander.  Why not?  What you don’t know is that your child will occasionally get the salamander out of its terrarium, because after all everyone needs exercise.  Did I mention we actually got two salamanders instead of just one? oh well, they can keep each other company in there.  Another thing I didn’t mention is that when you first adopt salamanders they do not prefer bright open places and are always looking for some dark corner where they believe they will feel more comfortable.  So, when the active salamander takes a walk straight into the doll pants that have foolishly been left out in the “salamander play area,” it will be up to you, the amphibian Houdini rescue team, to get the salamander back out of the doll pants.  She cannot walk while encased in doll pants. You must painstakingly, tenderly, cut the pants off the salamander (who is much too fat for the pants to be pulled off of) without damaging the plumpness of the salamander, while it writhes and wriggles in your hands.

And my number one role I did not anticipate playing…Fail Mom.  Yes.  This one is worth a whole other blog entry.  This is the role you know you will never play, because…how hard can it be?

Posted March 19, 2015 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Welcome to the Land of Expectations   Leave a comment

Would that I could escape from the endless trips I take to the land of expectations.  Even if you haven’t read Norton Juster’s book The Phantom Tollbooth, and don’t know what this quote refers to, you may be able to guess what this blog post is about.

I have known for many years now that I have a tendency to have specific and high expectations of myself, others, and reality.

I have “learned” this through painful experience, over the years, and because of that I have chosen to maintain realistic expectations of events and people, so that I will not have to go through the cycle of joyous anticipation, ending in heartfelt disappointment, and repeating endlessly.

A basic example would be the expectations I had as a child of what Christmas Day would deliver.  Sure it was wonderful to feel the anticipation, see the beautiful Christmas tree lights, and get presents, but some situation always reared up to spoil the supposed/proposed expectation I had of having a beautiful, wonderful, almighty perfect day. (Like for example the reality that the day would come to an end….)

So — I’m not that 8-year-old child any more and I know better than to have ridiculous expectations!

It follows that I should not have any problems feeling disappointed when things don’t work out….the way I thought they would…wait a minute, I have basically just admitted that I still have expectations, every single day of my life.

As much as I don’t want to have them, because I don’t like feeling disappointed, I can’t seem to eliminate this variable.

I suppose at some level it is impossible to have no expectations, because the fact that I go to the grocery store with list in hand means I expect to be cooking for and feeding my family for another two weeks.

I pay the mortgage and electric bills for this month because I fully expect to be living in the house and needing its shelter for the next month.

I sit down with a new library book because I fully expect to enjoy reading it.

I call a friend because I expect to enjoy our conversation.

Maybe it’s not expectations per se that are my problem, maybe it’s just unrealistic expectations.  Hmmm.

Didn’t think I still had the problem but guess I do…..thought last school year would obviously be easier, how could it not be, as I only have two instead of three students.  Nope, didn’t pan out that way.  Thought that summer vacation would feel like a vacation all the time, but has not happened yet.  Had hoped to go on a camping trip west this year, or somewhere, but, nope, that is not going to happen.

I am an adult and can cope with changes in my personal plans or wishes. (Repeat to self as needed.)

I’m not broken up about these things, but I do find that my adjustment to my current reality is not as smooth as I would like.


Posted June 20, 2014 by swanatbagend in reality

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