These Are The Days

Smart ~ Writer ~ Mom

Month: March 2015

Imperfect Expectations

Expectations are resentment under construction – Anne Lamott

Damn.

I wish I had thought of that. But alas, one of my favorite writers of all time came up with that line and I must say she NAILED IT.

I used to be one of those people that would approach a new situation or event with sky-high expectations. And while it’s often still my “default” mode, I’ve learned over the years to keep my expectations in check. Why? Because setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves, for others, or on external events, sets us up for disappointment. It’s OK to have wishes, dreams and goals. But those are different. Those are positive and forward-focused. They don’t have that “other shoe dropping” quality about them that expectations do. Do you know what I mean?

To me, a set expectation has an inherent thread of disappointment woven among good intentions. If we expect perfection – which is often the level at which we set our expectations – we will be let down.

Case in point: Christmas or any holiday, really. Who among us hasn’t labored over the most perfect gifts, the best wrapping paper, the prettiest ornaments, the tastiest menu, the Martha Stewart table setting, the sweetest cookies for Santa, the Norman Rockwell moments…only to be let down by the reality of crying kids, passive aggressive relatives, burnt food, and a dinnertime conversation that took a nasty turn down the road of politics, global warming, liberalism, and the merits of – let’s say – Fox News?

Just me?

What I’ve learned (and am still learning) is:

> When I expect that everyone will be looking at me, I dress plainly so I won’t stand out. (Spoiler alert: no one is paying as much attention to me or you or anyone else as we think they are)

> When I expect to be criticized or critiqued, I perfect my work/presentation/small talk, etc. to exhausting detail so no one can find any fault. Perfectionism is a bitch.

> When I set unrealistic expectations for an event (i.e. this is going to be the BEST vacation / visit / party / date night / reunion / sporting event, etc.), I am *always* let down.

> When I expect people to have specific reactions to certain things, I am disappointed when they don’t.

> When I expect people to judge me, I shrivel and make myself smaller. I make excuses. I become “nice Kim”, who is insincere, placating and inauthentic.

And omg it’s not that I’m not nice, but lawd how I hate that word. Clearly a post for another day. But for real? I hate the word nice. I prefer the word KIND. Nice sounds fake and Stepford-wife-ish. Kind is more human, more real, more sincere.

Expectations in and of themselves aren’t bad. I expect my girls to try their best at school, sports, life. But I don’t set unrealistic expectations of perfection for them. It’s a fine line, but an important one.

If there’s only one piece of wisdom I can impart to my girls, it is this:

“Expect nothing and appreciate everything.”

This particular piece of wisdom was gleaned from observing a very good friend of mine whom I’ve known for almost 27 years. She’s chock full of this kind of wisdom. But what’s especially awesome is that she isn’t one of those people at the top of every mountain preaching it.

She lives it.

And I love that.

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The Best Day, In 100 Words

This is part of Microblog Monday, thanks to Lori Holden, and also a post in response to a 100-word challenge from two blogger friends, and Ashley. Brevity isn’t my strong suit; I was pleased to see this was exactly 100 words. Well, you know, except for this disclaimer. Omg. 

The best day is the one when we don’t do much of anything.

Lounging, lazily.

Snoozing intermittently.

Play-wrestling.

Cuddling warmly.

Building Lego towers skillfully.

Snuggling after a bubble bath.

I love to watch him teach the girls.

I love to hear her sing the ABCs with her little lisp.

I love to watch her grown-up hands color masterpieces with new crayons.

I love cooking dinner for them, even though the chicken may be dry.

A walk in the neighborhood. A swim at the pool. A bedtime story. A kiss goodnight.

My husband and my girls.

These are the best days.

52 Weeks of Sisterhood: Lots of Luck of the Irish

Today – St. Patrick’s Day – is a big day in our family. So much going on and right in the middle of it all is St. Patrick’s Day. A nod to the heritage on both my and my husband’s sides of our family.

My 5th grader is participating in the science fair at her school today. She’s been working hard with a friend from her class to demonstrate whether a can of Coke will float or sink in water compared to a can of Diet Coke. I’m really proud of her hard work.

Since we moved her a few months ago, she’s had a hard time finding her footing with friends and activities. A bout with strep throat and a ridiculous amount of snow days for a mid-Atlantic state that should be better prepared didn’t help with her acclimation. But despite her periods of sadness, she found something she was interested in. And so these last few weeks have been spent shuttling between a new friend’s house and ours to conduct the experiment, observe and record their findings, and create a tabletop poster for the fair. And also buying more Diet Coke as someone may have accidentally drank the subject of the experiment. And by ‘someone’ I mean me. #DietCokeAddict

So this morning she had to be at school early for chorus rehearsal. We loaded the car up with her project, her chorus notes, her backpack and her viola – because in addition to the fair and chorus, today is also the first day of rehearsals for the school orchestra!

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She’s pretty excited about today.

Spoiler if you couldn’t guess: Diet Coke floats.

 

Little one came with me, of course. And she was super-excited to be in her big sister’s school. She gave her a big hug and kiss for good luck, we helped her set up her project, and then we headed out because it was also a big day for her!

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I originally wanted to enroll her in a preschool program that would run parallel to traditional school hours. But there was only a part time program available. My business has grown and I’m busier than I’ve ever been. So rather than have it continue to spill over into my nights and weekends, I decided to supplement her part-time program with another part-time program. Will she get confused? Maybe. Does she love being with kids? Yup. Does she have any separation anxiety at all? Nope.

And so she’ll be attending a fabulous preschool program in town that comes highly recommended. It’s colorful and clean and friendly and I love it. And more importantly – so does she.

Today was her first day. She’ll be going for a few hours twice a week. Not a huge commitment, but just enough to let her meet more friends and have some fun while I work. This also lets me continue to enjoy the afternoons with her, as she gradually eases out of naps. Plenty of time for library and park visits and puzzles and coloring and stories.

I’m proud of our girls and how brave they’ve been during this whole move. I didn’t move as a kid, so I can’t relate. But I’m in awe of how they handle missing friends and making new ones with such ease. Luck o’ the Irish? Maybe.

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The Song Remembers When

One of my favorite Trisha Yearwood songs is “The Song Remembers When.” The lyrics talk about the power a melody or a verse has to bring you back to a moment in time. And although times may have changed and people may have forgotten, songs can always trigger your memory.

Tonight, as I walked down the hall to our bedroom, I passed my little one’s room. As usual, her lullaby music was playing softly. I hear it every night, but for some reason it made something inside me stop and remember.

We first bought the CD – a sweet collection of instrumental Disney music – about 10 years ago when our older daughter was very young. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was well into the throes of some form of postpartum depression.

Whenever I hear any of the songs, my mind travels back to our tiny condo in Syracuse. To her pink and purple room with the flowers on the wall. The little green dresser, the princess bookcase, her kid-sized blue and green gingham-print rocker. I remember the smell of Johnson and Johnson lotion (the one in the pink bottle). When she was very small, I would rock her and our eyes would lock. I would stroke her little cheek. Her eyes would flutter shut and then open again, as if she wanted to steal a few more moments of the day. All the books say you’re supposed to sleep-train your baby, never let them sleep with you, don’t let them fall asleep in your arms. Screw the books. I did all of those things.

I realize now how very lost I was back then. Even though my husband was a very attentive father, I felt overwhelmed and exceptionally lonely. I was scared and unsure of myself. And I had yet to realize that the unresolved feelings I’d expertly avoided when my son was born were now bubbling up inside of me and manifesting in the form of guilt, supreme self-doubt and uncertainty. My world was consumed by this little person to whom I was entrusted.

I’m in a different place now. Literally, physically and figuratively. I still feel the effects of depression (does it ever fully go away?), but it doesn’t have the same hold over me. I now know that moving through my emotions rather than avoiding them is the healthier route. I now know how to take care of myself a little better. Guilt and self-doubt and uncertainty linger, but if I let it move through me, it doesn’t have the same power over me.

It just sometimes catches me off-guard the way the songs did tonight.

Weekly Rant and Rave

 

these are the daysRave: My little one used her Legos and built a flying cruiseship. All by herself. No doubt, she was inspired by the fact that we found an old episode of the Love Boat on a classic TV channel. She’s brilliant!

Rave: I cried the ugly cry when I read “The Fault in Our Stars” last year and I cried when I saw it in the movie theater last summer. And despite knowing what happens, I cried again the other night when my husband wanted to watch it. And for that, I celebrate John Greene and his brilliance as a Young Adult author. Pass the Kleenex.

Rave: Speaking of movies, we recently watched “The Majestic” for the millionth time. It’s one of my most favorite movies. I love Jim Carrey in almost anything (although, confession: I never saw any of the Ace Ventura movies), and he is spectacular in this. When my husband and I first saw it years ago, it was our little dream to own a movie theater like the Majestic. And now we live near a theater that’s very similar to the one in the film.

Rave: At 7pm Sunday night, our school district made the decision to have a delayed opening on Monday morning due to predictions of icy roadways. Good call….however…

Rant: The Delaware DOT failed to clear/salt the main and back roads, which forced the school district to cancel all classes on Monday. This is the 6th school closing of the year and the 4th since January! Side note: our state is not very good at clearing snow and ice from roadways and salting appropriately. And when I say “not very good”, I mean they suck at it. Being the “agitator” that I am, I sent a little note to the local paper suggesting they write a piece about how our kids are missing a growing number of school days for reasons directly attributable to DelDOT’s lack of resources and manpower. A story ran just yesterday 🙂

Rave: Our 10yo is attending the state-mandated sex ed classes at her school. Although she feels some of it is “creepy” and “weird”, she’s talking with us and asking questions. We started this conversation years ago so for that, I’m giving a virtual high-five to my husband.

Rant: The Dept of Justice report about the Ferguson Police Department just came in and I can’t even. Anyone that thinks we live in a post-racial society is delusional. For real. This is horrifying.

Rave: I love “The Voice.” I love Adam Levine (especially after what he and his band did for a young fan who suffered a panic attack) and I love Blake Shelton’s humor and I love Pharrell Williams’ classiness and coolness and I totally want to be Christina Aguilera for a day.

Anything you want to rant or rave about? 🙂

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