Be Careful of Expectations

by Mary Ann on March 19, 2015

Majestic and Cathy

Expectations and Living In The Moment


I knew a BIG black dog named Majestic. He belonged to my friend Cathy. I am sure that in his prime he was majestic. But when I knew him he was far along in age and had begun to slow down…alot! His hips hurt and his eyesight had gone.

Majestic could no longer run freely and chase balls or people. He frequently ran into furniture, if it had been moved. If you came into the room and walked towards him he would stagger to his feet and try to get out of your way, not quite sure which way to go. He couldn’t wrestle with the kids anymore.

MajesticYou would think that this once majestic dog would have been very unhappy. But he wasn’t. In fact, Majestic wasn’t sad at all. He was glad to be alive. He was open to sniffing your hand, getting a pat or two and sleeping in the sun. He was grateful for every good thing and seemed to take the bad in stride.

I have often thought about this since Majestic passed away. How could a once energetic and magnificent dog be happy with where his life had taken him – to aching hips and blind eyes? I have come to the conclusion that it has to do with expectations. Majestic just didn’t have any. He lived in the moment and took things exactly as they came.

I have noticed that expectations are the thing that gets me into the most trouble. If what I think should happen doesn’t then I have a hard time accepting what is and enjoying that.

Expectations Can Get Us In Trouble

Here are some perfect examples of what I am talking about. A friend of mine took her family of three boys, ages 9, 6 and 3, on a road trip. They were finishing up a years study of minerals and rocks. As a family they had had some amazing experiences. This trip was going to cap it all off perfectly. She knew just how it was going to go.

A few weeks later she gave me a call. I asked her how the trip went and she said, “Well, it was OK but it didn’t turn out as well as I hoped.” I asked her what went wrong and she told me all the things that they didn’t get to do. She was especially sad about all the journaling that didn’t get done.

I then asked her to tell me what they did do. They went to a dinosaur dig and had a fun day. They sang a ton of songs in their van as they traveled. They had some cool conversations about how the earth was created and what space is like. They dug for gems one afternoon.

“My goodness”, I replied, “there are mothers out there who would give anything for a week like that with their kids”. There was a pause on the Majestic and Preslyother end of the line and then she said, “Your right. I guess it was a pretty good trip after all. I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

Another mom was telling me about their failure of a home school day. I asked her why it was a failure. She detailed a project to me that she had planned for her kids. The end product just didn’t turn out very well. I asked her if they had fun and learned anything. She said yes, but she wished the project had turned out better.

She missed the point of doing something with her children – to be Present with them, connect and have fun. As far as I could see, and in fact what her kids saw, was that it was a great home school day.

Another friend and her children worked on their garden all day long. It was beautiful. When she wasn’t paying attention the water got turned on and it was on a long time. The garden was ruined. She could have said to herself or her kids, “What a waste of a day!” But she didn’t. She was grateful for the fun time they spent together and she told me it was a day they won’t soon forget, even if it has to be redone.

Let Your Expectations Go When Working and Playing With Kids

It isn’t just worthwhile if the project or experiment turns out perfectly, if the garden grows and there is a harvest or if boys spend a week writing in a journal. All the time we spend with our children matters, both in the good times and the not so good times.

And there it is. We sometimes suck the joy right out of an activity, a family trip, a child-parent moment because it wasn’t what we had in our mind; it didn’t stand up to our expectations.

When we are planning an activity with our children it is sometimes very wise to let all of our expectations go; not to plan ahead how it should all end but just remember to enjoy the process we are having with our children. That is why children have so much fun. They just enjoy the process.

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