Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations
When I think back on what used to stress me out, I can't believe I'm the same person. Hosting parties would turn me into an anxiety-ridden maniac, and even the thought of planning a camping trip with my husband and two boys was enough to send me into a tailspin! Thankfully, somewhere along the way, I learned to adjust my expectations to fit reality, and this has helped me with so much more than hosting dinner parties. By figuring out what's really important to
both me and my family, I've discovered that I don't always have to dot every "i" and cross every "t" to accomplish what needs to be done. That's why I was more than surprised when Expectations, with a capital E, tripped me up recently. Last week my husband had outpatient surgery. For days before he went in I decluttered and cleaned the house, planned what I would cook (especially important since cooking is not my strong suit), stocked the refrigerator and
pantry, went to his pre-op appt., and took notes. In short, I did everything I could to be ready in my little "I'm June Cleaver" fantasy.
Surgery went well, and once we got home and he was comfortably ensconced on the couch, I started making my homemade chicken soup. Before too long the soup was ready, but when I looked at the mountain of dishes I had created, my heart sank a little, since of course my energy was plummeting too. Who would be doing those dishes? Well, my very own self-turned-into-June-Cleaver of course!
I won't go into the gory details of what happened over the next few days, but suffice it to say that it was more of the same. No surprise that I was spent, exhausted, and in a pretty icky mood. Now I hope this doesn't come across as complaining, but after doing dishes, walking dogs, making meals — and trying to do it all really quietly so my husband could rest — it finally dawned on me that perhaps my Expectations were just a teensy tiny bit unrealistic. Since the
"time fairy" had not magically doubled the hours in my day, why did I think that I could do what I normally do plus what my husband does, which is, fortunately, a lot!
Thankfully, I stopped and went into the garden. Raking leaves and filling trashcans was just what I needed to bring my shoulders down from around my ears. Then I settled into a long, hot bath and finally curled up on the couch to finish a book.
Well, it's been a week now, and my husband is doing great. While there's still a mountain of stuff to be done, I learned a thing or two from this experience: to take some shortcuts when you're so busy that your head's spinning, like ordering take-out instead of making The Best Chicken Soup Ever. And when you're taking care of someone else, you need to take some time to take care of yourself, too.
If you find yourself similarly juggling lots of things in the air while trying to meet those Expectations that might just be a tad out of reach, take a deep breath and chop those expectations back down to manageable size. You'll be so glad you did!