Life Truth: Adjusting Expectations

Monday, October 17, 2016

Just an unrelated 85 degree fall photo
I want to start a new series where I talk about various truths that I have learned as I have grown into adulthood. This post will be the first among many, and it's about adjusting your expectations.

Sometimes, I hear people (usually other moms) talk about lowering their expectations in order to get through what may be a trying time in their lives. A typical conversation can go something like this:

Person 1: "How was it adjusting to two kids?"
Person 2:"Oh, it was super hard at first but you just gotta lower your expectations and then it's fine."

Hearing this always makes me really sad. I understand the sentiment and have experienced it a few times myself, but I want to look at it from a new perspective. Instead of saying I'll lower my expectations, I prefer to tell myself that I am adjusting my expectations and am learning to expect different/new things for myself.

I really learned this lesson over this past summer. Before the summer, Brock was still in law school and his schedule was really flexible. He spent tons of time at home with James and me, and was able to watch James while I worked. I was working 12-18 hours a week; around 8-10 hours in the office and the rest at home.

That schedule was absolute heaven for me. Working gave me a break from my mom duties and let me have quiet time. When I came home, Brock would have cleaned the apartment and fed James and it was so wonderful. We split parenting and cleaning and were together all the time. It felt like an ideal balance and I felt so grateful for it.

But then law school ended and full-time bar study began, around 8-10 hours a day. As wimpy as this sounds, since I wasn't the one doing the actual studying, this schedule shift was SO hard for me. My work was on the university schedule and had slowed down for summer, and with Brock studying I couldn't go into the office anyway. I constantly moped around feeling sorry for myself. I dreaded trying to fill up the long, hot days by myself with a toddler. Every night ended with me feeling sad and dejected.

But then, after about 5 weeks of this, I noticed something: I had gradually adjusted! I had no trouble filling up our days. I started going on long walk/runs by the lake in the morning, and found fun things for us to do in the afternoons. I went to a fun playgroup with other kids and moms a few times a week and made plans with friends and no longer felt sorry for myself.

I didn't lower my expectations about what my life should look like then versus what it had looked like the previous months; I adjusted my expectations to fit what my life was like then. And that perspective shift provided an important life lesson for me.

I'm going through the same thing now. Brock has started work at his new job. For the past few months before this week, we've spent most of our days with each other. Splitting time with James, doing individual outings, and just soaking up our time together. Now that he's gone all day and I am alone with a toddler with little to no ideas of what to do in our area with a kid, I'm reminding myself to adjust.

It's not going to come together immediately. I will be lonely and stressed sometimes, and I will be more stir crazy than James other times. But I'm also sure that I will adjust and will figure out how to make our life here work. I'm not lowering my expectations of my day-to-day life without Brock around, I'm just addressing how it's going to be from now on.

And I know I'm going to adjust and end up thriving.

5 comments :

  1. Spot on (again)! That said, I must admit that sometimes one just has to accept that things have changed. As small as my to do list is lately, I still have to be realistic and accept that I often can't complete it. If "lowering expectations" means "being happy that you get to spend more than 5 minutes in the bathroom", well, then I have been lowering them like mad!

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    1. True! Being realistic that things have changed is so important!

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  2. Very, very true! I've had to make many adjustments too. First, as a mom, then as a PT working mom, and now most recently as a FT working mom. You don't have to have lower expectations, just different ones. :)

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  3. I love your positive perspective. I know what that's like to go from having your partner around to help with the parenting and then for it to change up. It's a HARD adjustment. But you're right that it really takes the intention to fill up the days with positive things. Thanks for the reminder. :-)

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