This past weekend our family was supposed to go camping.  Given that it was Fall Break and we had the extra day off from school, the plan seemed perfect.  However, a variety of circumstances prevented us from camping.  Brad felt he needed to spend some extra time working on a paper, and Jacob developed a “mystery rash” that has been making it around school lately, and needed to see a doctor. (He’s fine.)  Our weekend definitely looked different than originally planned. 

This caused me to reflect on how I have managed expectations in the past. All of my life, I have had ideas, thoughts, plans, etc. about how my life should be lived.  And, when those expectations weren’t always met, I experienced (and still do) my share of disappointment, frustration, and anger.   Expectations are a tricky thing.  I think it is a good thing to hope for something or to plan for something.  Yet there are times when an expectation can prevent a person from experiencing what the moment or situation has to offer. 

When Jacob was two years old, Brad and I planned a week-long camping trip in Northern Michigan.  We had the tent, the supplies, and lots of images of hiking during the day, cooking at our campsite, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.  The day before we left for our trip Jacob threw-up a couple of times.  I wasn’t too alarmed by this, and when he seemed fine the next day we decided to take off.  The first night at our campsite all seemed well until bedtime.  For whatever reason, my normally good sleeper, Jacob, decided that he didn’t like sleeping in a tent and spent most of the night crying—loudly!  I thought for sure someone would pull up our tent pegs and order us to leave because of the racket coming from our tent.  Eventually, Jacob fell asleep, on top of my head no less, and we made it through the remaining hours of the night.  The next day as I was sleepily brushing my teeth in the campground bathroom I found myself in a conversation with a couple of other women.  One of them asked if I heard the baby crying through the night, and complained about not getting much sleep.  I nodded my head and muttered something about rude campers who had loud babies at night.  🙂  Our camping trip was cut short (I got the flu), and we spent the rest of the week at Brad’s parent’s cottage having a wonderful time.

If approaching forty has taught me anything, it is to hold my plans and expectations loosely.  It seems when I grasp a hold of them too tightly and demand they look a certain way, I am bound for disappointment.  This hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn or to accept.  I have also learned there are some pitfalls I can avoid.  This may sound silly, but limiting the amount of magazines I read is one way to manage my expectations.  Everything looks, reads, sounds, and feels better on the pages of a glossy magazine.  From the beautifully dressed models, to the fabulous dinner parties, to the amazing holiday decorations, I can set myself up for some major disillusionment if I think my life should mirror what I see on the pages of the magazines.  It is also helpful to be around friends whose lives are similar to mine.  I think that is one reason why I have appreciated my friendships with fellow graduate student spouses during these years.  I don’t have to explain the financial hardships or the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a job at the end of this road. We are all living this together.

Even though this weekend looked different than planned, it was a good weekend.  There was time for rest, for good food, for a family outing, and the realization that sometimes the best laid plans change.

2 thoughts

  1. Hi There –
    I have been reading your blog and enjoying them all! This one in particular as I am one with too many expectations, most of which fall short of fulfillment. I am learning, as well, to accept what is and to not try to control those things which I cannot control. I’m trying to go with the flow much more these days.
    Thinking of you fondly,
    Your California Cousin, Kris G.


    1. Hi Kris,

      I am so glad you are enjoying the blog. I wish there was some “fix” for managing expectations. :) I like to control my world as well. I hope you have a great visit with your mom. We need to plan another family reunion so we can all be together again. When we saw Nate in Dallas, he mentioned that he got to see Dawn and you.

      Take care, Alicia


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