Today my daughter dressed herself. I’m talking tall polka dotted socks, bike shorts with donuts on them, and a glittery snowman long sleeved shirt…and it’s 85 degrees. She beamed with pride and I told her with full sincerity that she looked awesome.
I was proud of her but disappointed in myself.
See I took her to preschool drop-off in her trendy threads, but I made a mental note to pack a change of clothes for afterwards because we have a PTO meeting at our son’s private school this evening.
Friends, I wrestle with expectations. Not like what grades I hope my kid gets or what I think I should bring to the church potluck.
I’m talking about real, raw, deeply rooted wounds that show themselves to me in my anxiety-ridden sleeplessness.
Am I the only one?
I think we feel hurt by others sometimes in the places where our own expectations are what actually caused the pain. It can happen with our husbands or our jobs, with our kids, our families, our friends.
No one is immune because we have somehow, somewhere along the way, begun building walls around ourselves. Brick by brick we are imprisoning reality with the false ideals of what we THINK we should be/look like/act like/do.
But what if our happiness–our true contentment–wasn’t based on expectation?
I am someone many would describe as having lots of friends, but I’d never describe myself that way. It’s not because I don’t love so many incredible women who are generous, kind, caring, and loving. It is because I doubt my own ability to be loved exactly as I am–not just the funny, sarcastic, public version of me, but in the shameful, cob-webby parts, too.
Only three people besides my husband know that version and seem to love me anyway. I’m talking about love that is so brazen and so confident that they’d call at 3am in the face of ‘inconveniencing me’ because that is what love does for someone who needs them.
I am someone who most would assume is confident, speaking boldly about being a woman of size whose husband loves her curves and whose body brought two healthy children into this world, thank you very much, Karen!
While I am those things, there is still a middle school girl in there expecting people to laugh AT me instead of with me; one who can’t fully believe her husband thinks she’s beautiful because her expectation of beauty was painted by media and pop culture and those girls don’t look like her at all.
While I am someone who followers online seem to come to for advice on parenting or educating their child suffering with behavior issues, I am still a mom first. I battle the expectation that my son may have a meltdown at any minute, that his school may deem us unfit, that he won’t be able to learn coping strategies to make him successful, and a thousand other fears.
Friends, no matter our attempts at true transparency and authenticity, we are all human. We’ve all been children and middle schoolers, teens and young adults; people open to hurts that weren’t fair and wounds that never should’ve been ours to carry.
We are people in a society that praises body confidence but still fat shames, a country that is against racism but still hates, a place where we are to say ‘me too’ but not offend.
Our expectations have been distorted.
So what if today, just in this moment, we made a promise to ourselves that we would make a change? Because I don’t want to raise a daughter who doesn’t love every part of herself–polka dotted socks and all. And I refuse to raise a son who doesn’t respect women beyond what they have to offer him.
Today. Right now. I am going to give myself the grace to lower my expectations. Not to refuse to rise, but to allow for true transparency.
Today I will allow myself to rest without feeling guilty because whoever said a mom who takes a nap is lazy was obviously not a mom.
Today I will make my to-do list shorter so I can sit in peace because I am a person and a quiet soul brings me happiness.
Today I will not put unrealistic hopes on my husband because he is human, too. He is not a character written about in a novel or a made for TV movie.
Today I will let my kids be free. I will not yell if they spill something because they are still learning. I will encourage their curiosity and I will breathe through their million questions because they are kids and I was once, too.
Friends, we all deserve grace in our broken places. Not because it sounds flowery but because that is what we’d extend to a friend whom we love without condition and we need to begin–right now–to love ourselves that way too.
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