Moms: Are your expectations handcuffing you to a life of misery?
Time to Let FREEDOM Ring!
Two weeks ago, my son finished Kindergarten. On the last day of school, the teachers walked Little M and his classmates upstairs to the 1st grade classroom. Little M came home so excited. “Mom! You are not going to believe it. I’m moving into 1st grade and that means I get to do science experiments and learn bigger stuff! It’s really cool!”
I love to see that sparkle in his eyes. It is a glow that tells me he is dreaming bigger dreams for himself.
Within a week of that last day of Kindergarten, Little M demanded the training wheels be taken off his bike, he started to shower (instead of taking a bath) and he let go of the side of the pool and started swimming.
Those are some pretty monumental changes in the life of a 5-year old. I contemplated what had shifted for him. Was it graduating from Kindergarten, seeing the “big kid” science lab or simply a coincidence?
And then I realized what had happened. Little M had changed his expectation for himself. He now saw himself as a big kid. And he started expecting something different from himself.
Our expectations often hold the answer to our own personal freedom. I’m sure Little M was just as capable of riding his bike without training wheels two or three months ago but he didn’t expect himself to do that so he didn’t.
Expectation can also work in the reverse.
This happened with a client with whom I spoke recently. My client told me that she was frustrated and unhappy because now that her second child is 6-months old, she feels that she should be accomplishing more as the mom of two children. She was still expecting herself to get as much done with two children as she had with one.
As we worked together, she realized her expectations had pretty much set her up to fail. She was spinning her wheels trying to get a massive task list done each day, which was impossible when caring for the needs of two little ones.
As soon as she shifted her expectations, she was able to see her own accomplishments in a new light. She started to appreciate what she was accomplishing. Without the demands she was originally putting on herself, she was able to spend more time resting when she could and simply enjoying her baby rather than multi-tasking the hell out of her life.
Expectations are a double-edged sword. But here is a good rule of thumb. If an expectation you set for yourself leaves you feeling exhilarated or excited about what you might accomplish, that expectation is probably helping you grow and experience additional freedom.
But if an expectation you have for yourself (or your children) leaves you feeling resentful, overwhelmed or exhausted, then that expectation is handcuffing you to a life you most certainly cannot love.