Great Expectations

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I’m someone who suffers from the odd case of over expectations.

I’m quite bad at it, I suspect I have been this way for most of my life – disappointed by a Birthday or Christmas along the way, definitely with men through the years…demanding that they know what I MUST be thinking at any given time and especially, worst of all when it comes to parenting. I have an idea (based on no fact or realistic reasoning) in my head about how things SHOULD happen, or go, and when they inevitably turn south, I tend to throw my eyes to the heavens, have a tantrum or sulk off into a corner licking my wounds. It’s a terrible trait to have…really silly and childish, and one that I am slowly recognising and working on. It must be getting older…huh.

These holidays I have seen this behaviour come up again and again especially with the girls. It’s holiday time! I REALLY want to have a break because, you know, I’ve worked bloody hard through the year – doing stuff for everyone in my family, thinking for them, thinking 5 minutes, 1 hours, 1 week or months ahead for them all. Doing my own work and running the house and all that comes with that. I REALLY want Rob to have a break for all the same reasons. I REALLY want the girls to have fun, and be relaxed, and rest (I always really want them to do that). I REALLY want Rob and I to have time together as a couple, occasionally recall why it was we fell in love all those years ago now. SO many wants. So much expectation.

Funnily enough, all the same shit comes with you when you go on holidays. The girls are still tired and even though you have worn them just about plain out, they will STILL refuse to go to sleep. You’ll still fight over stupid stuff with your partner, the kids will fight with each other, and of course your visions of reading books disappear as you still clean up after the family, still filling their plates with food at mealtimes, still dealing with supermarkets…same stuff, different scene.

My biggest holiday problem I have uncovered these Christmas holidays is my utter despair with the kids when they don’t appear to be grateful for ANYTHING. Christmas is a particularly bad time as they are overindulged with so much, by so many people. It seems completely unfair to them that you won’t buy them one more thing, just because they want it. They can’t seem to appreciate the trip to the beach, the effort it goes to to save up and go somewhere nice…it just seems to pass them by. Of all the things, THIS is the stuff I seem to have the most holiday expectation about. I have visions of my kids sitting back in a restaurant sipping their lemonade saying “Thank you SO much Mum and Dad. This is just lovely. HOW LUCKY ARE WE?!” Because, you know, we are.

But what I have come to figure out, is that it’s just another unrealistic expectation that I have placed on a situation. They are just kids…little ones at that…they don’t know about sacrifice, or hard work. Not yet anyway. Of course they appreciate all the things they have in their lives (they are not spoilt brats, they really aren’t) and it’s ridiculous of me to ask too much of them. This happened on more than one occasion last year when I would despairingly say to Rob “Maybe we should just go home? I mean, they just don’t CARE.”

And they do.

And as soon as I let all MY shit go, all MY expectations things get better. If I want to read books and not cook? Ask someone else to do it for you! If I want to spend happy time with the kids. CREATE them. If I want to spend some time with Rob as an adult couple? Get someone to mind the kids so we can. It’s pretty simple really isn’t it? It’s just taken me almost 37 years to work it out. And you know what? As soon as I stop throwing my toys out of the pram, and let some of the expectation go and just be? I’m happier. The kids are happier. My husband is certainly happier. And the funniest thing of all? You get unasked for compliments from the kids. You get ALL of the things that you were after in the first place. Instead of wondering why people can’t read your mind and getting the shits about when they can’t…TELL THEM.

Huh.

This year we have a big trip planned overseas where we will be gone for almost 4 weeks. I’m REALLY excited about it. It’s been years and years in the making and planning, and it’s finally going to be here. And my challenge is to just be. Let it all unfold how it does. I’m going to stop myself from saying to the girls “You don’t even know how lucky you are…I didn’t get to go overseas until I was 21! TWENTY ONE!” and I’m going to let their stories and adventures happen as they do. As they come. Because they are theirs. Not mine.

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Of course knowing me, I will lose my shit 137 times along the way. But I’m going to try. I’m going to really try.

Do you suffer from the odd case of over-expectations?
Ever fish for gratefulness and compliments from loved ones?

Comments

  1. Jackie Clark says:

    Ha! I just finished having this conversation with my girlfriend. I feel like my kids don’t appreciate anything and I find myself saying all the time, we didn’t have half the things you have etc.. But I think you are right, they are too young to understand the value of things and I only hope that as they get older they do. That or they are going to become over indulged brats.,..I guess I’ll just have to wait and see! X

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says:

      I’m sure I was a shit head when I was a kid…in fact I KNOW I was. But I look back now and know how hard my parents worked to give us what they did. Hindsight is quite a thing isn’t it?

  2. Bree Di Mattina says:

    Oh Beth. The traveling thing I get. They have no idea it’s not the norm. They just ARE. It’s just another day to them but instead of being taken to swimming etc they are taken to Croatia or in our case the USA. We spoke extensively to our 6yo about what we would see on our trip so he had things to look forward to at each place and was excited about trying new things rather than being apprehensive. And some days you just have to find a playground and let them be kids. But I really enjoyed just being together and making family memories. My husband worries still that it was wasted on our 2yo but I think it was worth it :)

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says:

      The memories are ALWAYS worth it. When I was doing the photo book of this year all I remember REALLY are the good bits of holidays – not the whinging and fights and tears…just the good bits.

  3. Emma Steendam says:

    Sometimes you just can’t see the forest for the trees. I *imagine* parenting is like that sometimes. You’re so right that it’s their story, not yours. I also imagine a whole lot of other parents are nodding their heads with you on this one. I notice a huge difference in the way different parents within my family parent, and as a result how their children behave to such things as Christmas and holidays and gifts. It doesn’t make some of my nieces spoilt brats and some grateful angels, it’s just different, they’re different, their parents are different, their situations and families are different. Good on you for trying, can’t do much more than that.

  4. Lisa Mckenzie says:

    Not as much as I used to I am all grown up now ,well certainly as much as I ever will be at 50 I still throw the odd tantrum or have a whinge i think that is very normal and your children I am sure DO appreciate things but they just don’t know how to articulate it yet xx

  5. This resonates with me SO much … They are just kids, they live in the moment and have no ability to reflect or “appreciate” things, but it’s frustrating as hell.

    Yes, we just went to a theme park and the beach and had a sailing lesson and ate a giant gourmet gelato. But that was BEFORE. Ths is now. And NOW I want a plastic necklace from the supermarket. And if you don’t give it to me you are the worst parent in the world and I am going to lie on the floor and scream for 45 minutes.

    Gaaah. I think I’ll be returning to this post often!

  6. It’s tough, this parenting gig, isn’t it? It fair tuckers me out, and I only have 1…and he’s not actually (officially!) walking yet. But…we were at a party on the weekend. It was lovely, a beautiful afternoon to celebrate the 1st year of a very precious little girl. We were leaving, Otis was a bit tired, and we were carrying a bit of stuff with us to the car. And yet. We are hoping our little boy will be happy, walking, holding our hands (for safety!) for years to come. And the only way for him to learn that, is to walk, very slowly, with him, and hold his hands. So we did, one on each side. It would have been faster to carry him. But we didn’t. We stopped and walked at his pace, one on each side, marvelling at his steps! We talked about the blessing of having a child, how it forces you to slow down, and just enjoy that simple moment. If you appreciate the moments, they will learn to as well. They may not know that now, but later, when they are older, they will appreciate the little moments, as most likely, that is what they will remember! But if you lose your shit…they will probably remember that too. A good reason not to!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says:

      I need to remember that often…I hope they remember me as a happy person even though the cranks seem to rear their heads in week 6 of holidays comes into focus!

  7. Ha! I totally agree. My children have SUCH an privileged overindulged childhood compared to mine. I get so infuriated with their presumptuous-ness.

    I read somewhere once that if you keep banging up against the same issues over and over with your small children that its you that needs to change your behaviour and not them. Hard to apply in the heat of the damn moment though. :)

  8. YES! Constantly Beth. My dear husband tells me my expectations of people are to high…I say that his are too low !! Re the kiddies….when there is something I think they should be grateful for or thankful about…I start one sided conversations with myself…”Oh wow Mum! Thanks so much for taking us to the beach! We love the beach! It’s so cool! ….I know you do! That’s why Dad and I worked hard to get you here even though at times it’s more difficult for us. But we love you and we want you to be happy. Thank you for being grateful….” and so on and so forth about all kinds of things. Like Thanks mum for putting my washing away…cleaning my room…cleaning the toilet!! lol. Eventually Beth they have gotten it. Even though they think i’m kind of not quite right in the head…they are always thankful now…it’s only taken a good number of years. But you will get there in the end too. xo

  9. Yes! I’ve come to realise that on on holidays things are exactly the same as home except i don’t have to cook or clean the house.
    You’re right, the kids are super indulged at this time of the year. 2 of mine have January birthdays so it’s even worse here. I’ve realised that my kids really just like the simple things. If we try to do too many things all in the name of having a good time they tend to lose it. Our happiest moments these holidays have been simple days at the beach, playing board games or at the park with their cousins, iceblocks in the cubby house, reading books together.
    And after all, if I like a good sulk once in a while it’s surely ok for them to do it too?!

  10. Sarah-Jane Sheridan says:

    Yep, today has been a shit day because of MY expectations, I know that I expect too much from my kids and when I stop stressing about what they should/shouldn’t be doing everything goes so much smoother and sorts itself out.
    Thanks for the timely blog Beth, we are heading off on holidays this weekend and I’m going to (try really hard) to lower the expectations, because really we know that we can’t actually throw them out the window completely, they’re always sitting there niggling at you to some degree.

  11. Margaret Elvis says:

    Beth I gave up having expectations of people, events etc. years ago. Now at age 82 I just sit back and let people get on with things and hope that eventually all will turn out for the best.
    I do think young people of today are spoilt rotten but it’s not their fault really. Just a sign of the affluent times we now live in. I was brought up during WW2 when you couldn’t buy toys, bikes etc. and had, at times, to be content with quite often secondhand things.
    One thing about the long ago was the fact there were guest houses where you had three meals a day served up to you and your parents could relax with no housework or gardening chores for he whole 2 weeks we were away. That must have been wonderful for them, for all of us in fact. Annual hols were only 2 weeks/year then.
    I think you will have fabulous on your overseas holiday (I only ever ventured as far as Melbourne to work when I was 18, and Phil and I only as far as New Zealand back in the 1980s) and I guess the best approach is to occasionally take a deep breath and relax and let THINGS happen, ‘cos happen they will whether you want them to or not.

  12. Susan McCarney says:

    You were not a shithead as a child…..you were just you. And we loved you regardless…..we got frustrated when you and your siblings seemed less than enthusiastic about things that we never imagined we could ever give you, show you or let you experience…..but we loved the fact that we could do it for all of you. Beth, it took your mother a while to work it out too…go with the flow…. without the expectations, then when things take on their own momentum, very often they turn out better than you ever could have expected!! X

  13. Oh gosh! I can so relate. Mine is centred around lack of sleep with the 10month old atm. I need to breathe & LET IT GO!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says:

      Oh Mel SO DO I. You would think I’d know this all those years later and yet still? I beat myself up about it.

  14. I’m a massive over-expector! And I build myself up at each event – Christmas, birthday, birth of a child… And think my partner will be on the same wave length but he isn’t. We have completely different expectations and I guess after almost 10 years together, we (or more importantly I) should come to grips with this

  15. Julijana Griffiths says:

    Over achievers / perfectionists = over expectations…… thats me to a T! Has it caused probs you bet! Am I getting better? Sort of I think! I have a 21 year old and that causes grief at times selfish, not ringing..etc but when he does ring and say I love you mum and miss you everything just melts away!

  16. Lisa Aherne says:

    What a brilliant post! I don’t have children and don’t have expectations of other people. What I realised while I was reading this was that I should be more grateful for all the good things that come my way from my partner. I am grateful, but should express that more often. Thank you for the wake up!

  17. MotherDownUnder says:

    I am exactly the same.
    Just the other night we had family homemade pizza night and I had visions of us all listening to music, rolling out dough, generally having fun and being thankful. But no. The toddler was crying. The husband was making a mess. I was stressed about the crying and the mess. At least the pizza tasted good.
    I need to let go to…I am slowly working on it.

  18. shoppegirls says:

    Yes we all tend to have our expectations higher than they should be on most occasions. But as we get older we need to just let them go and go with the flow and enjoy all that we can to the best we can. My daughters do know how lucky they are and say thank you often even for the simple things. I guess it is not until they are really old enough to understand what they really have to appreciate it and be thankful.

  19. Amy Zempilas says:

    DING DING DING!!! I totally hear you on this post! I am very idealistic and am only just now as a mother of two little ones, learning to let go and go with the flow. This past week I have overlooked messiness and jobs to do around the house (I am totally OCD) and have had lots of fun with my girls. I’ve LOVED every second and I think I’m finally making progress. Thanks for sharing, great to know I’m not the only one. Amy x x x

  20. My hubs is the one with the high expectations in our house, he’s often disappointed that things sometimes (never) go to plan. Then later he looks back and realised it was actually pretty good. It’s something we’re working on.
    Living in Dubai my kids often feel like they’re missing out. I had a surreal argument with my 5yo recently about getting a stretch pink limo for her birthday party!
    I kind of feel like being grateful is something I have to do for them for the moment (like tying their shoelace or wiping their bum) one day they will get it, eventually. Hopefully one day they’ll also learn to sleep in! (says the woman who’s been up since 6am)

  21. Debbie Lee says:

    We live in a unit and outside just near the water a homeless man sits, every day, he sleeps there. I’m not happy that he is homeless obviously, BUT it reminds me constantly how fortunate we are, to be happy, healthy, safe and have a roof over our head and food! It is so hard to remember this, particularly with the festive season where everything is here in great abundance, but we really all are so fortunate. I can relate in that I expect so much and need to be mindful (often), of just how lucky we are.

  22. Always. All the time. Every fucking day. Well, not quite but you get the idea. I have stupid thoughts of expectations that run through my feeble brain and it frustrates the living shit out of me because I just want to be one of those free spirit types who can just sit back and enjoy the moment. Every moment. But I’m not. And I swear too much. But fuck, this is me. So we just make the best of it, don’t we?!

  23. The Lazy Housewife says:

    O thank you so much Baby Mac, well actually I prefer to call you Bev…. and thanks to everyone who has commented on this post…. you all make me feel so normal, I would love to have you all to my house for drinks (so I feel even more normal). I can completely relate to every single thing you all say. I live on a remote cattle station, 5 hours for town…. this is NOT good for a raving extrovert who needs to be around people to recharge… I have been feeling a little down lately but you have all just pepped me up. I am hooked on your blog Baby Mac (and only just started reading it yesterday) really need to stop reading and start doing. Actually I think I need and outing and really need to get a life, ha ha ha. THANKS!!!!

  24. Oh my goodness Beth! I am so like this!! I rant all the time how ungrateful my kids are! They are young too! We have lived overseas & done a lot of travelling with them & same as you didn’t go o/s till I was 20!! Sometimes I feel like not going anywhere to avoid this!!!!

  25. This will sound ridiculous and sappy but it is just plain true. When my son was born with Cerebral Palsy I had a huge smack of not getting in life what I expected. Life was turned upside down and I suddenly had a life very different from that I’d imagined. I had romantic notions of what life with a child would be and my reality was hours of therapy and hard work. He was a beautiful baby and brought me much joy but it was different, I was different and it altered everything.. It was a huge lesson for me in just loving every moment.

    I had travelled extensively before he was born but now when I travel I have an appreciation I never had before. When he needed a wheelchair I didn’t know if I’d ever travel again. Fortunately we have found a way around all the issues there are with travelling with him and it is extremely liberating (though flying is a nightmare)

    I am like an old fashioned musical when I travel – joyous and likely to break into song as I stand in an iconic place as I’m so grateful to be there.

    This does not mean that I don’t complain about things and although my daughter knows she is lucky, at 11 she is still 11. She wants my time and can’t necessarily have it as my son needs help with everything. She is patient, helpful and empathetic but I also think that 11 she shouldn’t spend all her time being grateful. She is a kid. When you are a kid you should be in a bit of a bubble of childhood.

    We are all human and sometimes we have great expectations. It would be a negative person that didn’t. Keep expecting great things and if it is different just try and be graceful in readjusting.

    Just my thoughts.

    Julie

  26. Yes, yes, YES!! Beth, I am EXACTLY the same. I am starting to recognise when I’m doing it. I look back and realised I have stuffed up perfectly good holidays by expecting too much. I have kids, little kids and just because you have paid a bucketload on a nice place to stay, doesn’t mean it’s all going to go to plan. My great expectations have carried on into life…and then…I lost Hamish. Suddenly I go from high life expectations to not knowing if I’ll even survive! I need to always remember I’m here. I’ve climbed a mountain and now it’s time to just take in that view, instead of wondering if it’s the right view or if I could’ve achieved a better one.

    Gosh I could rattle on about this but I’m in tears now. Thank you for this. I needed to read that. Xxxx

  27. Christi says:

    Live in the magic of the moment, embrace and let it organically unfold, relax and enjoy, open yourselves up to discovery….that said as an organiser planning is the key. But through experience you understand that the picture is in your head and should anything change gears or not happen as planned only you know it. Everyone else embraces the experience while we bemoan over the details of the plan. Others of us fail in the detail and wonder why things don’t string along. The plan lays the foundation and is the blue print but as the event unfolds in a life of it’s own and that’s whats remembered…the experience ;) It’s that old saying it’s the journey not the destination. Embrace the journey….gratitude will naturally unfold

  28. Glad you shared this post again as I missed it back in January. I definitely suffer from
    over-expectations! Things like when I thought my husband should have proposed to me (he eventually did 10 years after we got together, we were young!), how the house should look (I am slowly realising not like the ones in magazines), like you say how our children should react and behave, how I think some adults should behave (I wish I had a magic wand sometimes!). Like you say its all about letting the expectations go and you are dead right you feel better when you do! Have a fabulous trip! We are doing a small one next Month with our kids to Fiji, I’m going to keep this post of yours in my mind. Love your Blog you are inspiration!
    From a little fish x

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