Today was our first real day at the beach with Wade. Being beach lovers, my husband Brian and I have developed a somewhat involved beach setup over the years: chairs, umbrellas, staked blanket, cooler w drinks and food, cart, reading material, listening material etc.
Leave it to a child to make your routine obsolete.
Knowing Wade will not do much sitting we left the food, the chairs, the reading material, the listening material, at the house.
If there’s one thing that ruins an experience, it’s my expectations. (Look for future stories on that 🙂 Brian and I have spent years quietly sunning and reading, breaking for quick cool downs in the gulf. Now reading, listening or even sitting is something only possible while on the toilet. (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point.)
All this to say – I am happiest, kindest and most content when my expectations are few. My new goal for the beach? Share in Wade’s joy and keep him from wading out to a rip tide, nothing more. See how easy that is? No conflicting values. No simmering irritation at my son demanding involvement. There is a time for work, for reading or other things. This is not that time. Keeping realistic expectations of my days primes me for simplicity – less agendas, less disappointment. But – this is not the same as low expectations!
Take my toddler son Wade for a basic example. We are going out to a sit-down dinner with my family tonight. Having low expectations means I expect Wade to behave poorly or throw a tantrum. Too high expectations means I expect him to sit quietly in a highchair for 2 hours. Realistic expectations means I expect him to sit and eat for a short time but require distraction and movement the rest. Realistic means everyone wins.
Expectations don’t always have to be spot on, just reasonable. Note – there is a point where expectations in relationship become more complex and that is a discussion for another time, but even in complex relationships we should find situations where we can choose to be realistic.