Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Great Expectations

Expectations.  Everyone has them, about all sorts of things.  We walk to through life looking for something to fulfill us, to help us reach an expectation: childhood dreams about grown up lives, picket fenced houses with impeccable interiors, flavors a food should introduce to the palate. Expectations are great, so long as we realize they may never come to fruition, at least not in the 'perfect' way we imagined.

Lately, I've seen quite a few friends feel let down.  Today, a co-work was let down by the taste of my lunch I offered to let him try.  As it turns out, he did not care for quinoa black bean burgers- not even a little.  My husband tells me all the time that something like this burger is a frankenfood: we call it a burger, dress it up to look like a burger, but it never tastes like a burger. It doesn't bother me one bit, but I think it has to do with expectation. I expect my quinoa blackbean burger to taste like quinoa and blackbeans, others expect it to tast like a burger. I think this is the source of some pretty  massive let down in aspects of our lives that are a bigger deal than my shared vegan lunch.

I expected to find a great husband, have perfect children, and live in a pristine home.  At one point in my life I might have said some of this didn't come true.  Today I feel like I have it all.  It's all about the perception of what's truly important in our expectations. What makes the husband great?  What makes the kids perfect?  What makes the home pristine?

If you walked into my house, as I've said before, you probably wouldn't think Pottery Barn Magazine style.  Toys are always laying around, despite our best efforts to keep them picked up.  Drawings made by my kids are my pricelss artwork and all of my walls are covered with it.  Stacks of papers that come home from school get taken from backpacks and left piled on the counter until cleaning day.  It's not what I expected, but it's reality. 

My kids have a daily routine of disputing which version of Squinkie game to play: will today be The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or will it be The Voyage of the Dawntreader? Will the part of Aslan the Lion be played by the lamb or the cat? Will they play regular Barbies or Narnia Barbies? We're pretty into Narnia right now, in case you couldn't tell.  I can't say I enjoy the daily bicker-festival, but I know it's reality.  I know they will still grow up to love one another and the game of choice is always decided, in the end, as something that makes them both happy.  But if I expected something more of them, if I expected there to NEVER be a disagreement, I would be one very unhappy momma. 

And what about my husband?  Perfection? I guess that depends on how I define perfection.  He's a wonderful human being who loves me very much.  He almost always makes me coffee in the morning.  He loves to take me golfing in the summer.  He plans the best vacations.  He knows what I like and what I don't like.  He knows I don't like gadgets for birthday gifts.  He knows I'm sentimental about things like our engagement, our wedding, the birth of our children.  He knows I have a thing for purses. I surely could find something wrong with him, but I choose not to.  Sometimes the irrational and demanding part of my brain tries to shout about the lightbulb that wasn't changed fast enough or the morning he finished my leftovers without asking.  At those times I remind myself that my expectations for having my leftovers for lunch are stupid.  The rational part of my brain reminds me that he got up early to bring me a special breakfast treat; time that could have been spent changing a lightbulb was instead spent doing something exceptionally sweet...for me.  Who cares about the lightbulb when you put it that way?

Friends, we must be careful, in this goal-oriented world, not to confuse our goals with our expectations.  I should not have expected to buy a nice house and have a happy family, it should've been my goal.  That means I had to work for it.  Nothing falls into our laps in this world, nothing.  What we can expect in life is to hit bumps along the road to achieving our goals.  We cannot expect our goals to happen as if by magic.  Strive to find understanding with our significant others, strive to see eachother's perspectives.  Work hard as parents, teach the children the art of comprimise; maybe the Barbies could be giants from Narnia that snuck out of the wardrobe to wreak havok on Earth. Keep trying the burgers, one day the recipe might be a success and make everyone at the table happy.

Our relationships are ever changing and growing. Our lifestyles evolve over time. And our quinoa blackbean burgers are ever a work in progress. If we keep these things in mind, our fiendish expectations may not hurt so much when they don't come to pass. If we keep these things in mind we may just recognize the happiness that was there all along.