Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Low Expectations

I have decided that this will have to be my approach in what I accomplish in a day. Yesterday I had moderate expectations and felt VERY frustrated by the end of the day. Those of you who know me well, know that I am not overly ambitious in what I feel needs to be accomplished in a day. I'm okay with a full shower being my greatest accomplishment in a day. Or clean kids. Or a clean house. Rarely all in one day. Unless I have company coming.

Anyway---yesterday I had big dreams of getting up, getting all parties I'm responsible for clothed and fed, and going on a nice morning walk with my two angels. Well, by 9 am I was just getting myself dressed finally and taking gulps of a smoothie in between and Avee started her "I'm tired" routine. It consists of trailing me around the house (at an alarmingly high speed) wailing and screeching and persistently grabbing my legs to corner me with her body. So I give in on my hopes of a walk and put her to bed.

She sleeps from 9:40 to 12:51.

Bo and I putter around all morning coloring, cleaning, eating, and reading. Bo starts showing tired signs at 12:30 and is asleep by 12:50. For that one minute my children are asleep at the same time, I flop on my bed (after an exhausting morning) and fantasize that I will get to read a chapter, or maybe two while curled up on my oh-so-heavenly-not-napped-on-nearly-enough bed. Avee's gleeful babbles from her crib immediately dispel fantasy of any sort. I go get her and revel in her first few minutes of cuddliness---she's always so appreciative of being retrieved from her crib.

I tried to do an exercise tape. Anyone who's tried to do that with a 1 year old in the room knows what a joke that is. Avee sees my stretching as an invitation to treat me like a jungle gym. Warm up jog become a staggering and clutching of the entertainment center while Avee hopes for a free ride, clinging to my leg. I put Avee back down at 3 and Bo woke up at 3:10.

Avee only took a cat nap so at 3:40 I got diapers changed, bathroom trips, shoes on, and headed out with the kids for a walk. It ended up being a leisurely tour of the grounds as dictated by Bo and when we headed back to the trail for a walk, I saw that it was time to start dinner and that J was home. I went home, dumped the kids on him for a trip to the park and started dinner.
It was a good dinner. By 6 PM, that was the only verifiable accomplishment I had to my name for that day. My kids were rested and neither were malnourished, or had rashes---but really, that's more like preventative maintenance than accomplishments.

When I was 21, turning 22 I was on my mission at Temple Square. My mom sent me a letter a few weeks before my birthday giving the advice of keeping my expectations low and I won't be disappointed. This is really sound advice in some situations. Not so sound in other situations such as, let's say, choosing a spouse, or medical care, or personal hygiene. But in this situation, it was great advice.

I thought my mom probably gave it so not to have to feel bad when "all" she sent me for my birthday was a brand new outfit and a silky Victoria's Secret nightie (I'm not kidding, it was in "my" color, so I got it---on my mission, from my mother). Well, I kept my expectations low and it was truly one of the best birthdays of my life. We had a rehearsal for the songs we were going to sing for the ground breaking of the new Conference Center. So at 7 am I arrived at the tabernacle where over 100 sister missionaries were already seated and broke into an impromptu, but heavenly rendition of Happy Birthday--- as I walked up to my seat. Now really, how many people do you know have gotten to experience something like that?

Later my friends surprised me with a pre-breakfast party with chocolate cupcakes. So low were my expectations going into this party, that when I opened the cupboard the day before and saw an entire plate of chocolate cupcakes hidden inside---I only suspected my roommate who was "dieting" with me, had a weakness and was hiding it. She totally thought I was just acting dumb and that I knew it was for my birthday, but it wasn't until she pulled them out, frosted, for the party, that I put two and two together. My love of Asian food had somehow made its way around the mission and about 5 different Asian missionaries made me their version of fried rice. SOOOOOOOOO yummy. Laotian was my favorite.

Another birthday I had that I didn't follow my mom's advice---was shortly after I was married. J and I got married ON J's birthday. So, he had a pretty sweet birthday. Mine was 3 weeks later. I had all kinds of hopes and dreams of being spoiled and overwhelmed with gifts and tokens of J's affection and adoration. To his credit, he DID make me a cake (but it wasn't chocolate--how little he knew then) and he DID make me dinner---but I had expectations and they were not met. When I wept, "just one little gift, you couldn't get me just one little gift?"

J's eyes bugged and he turned around in our tiny studio apartment, his arms sweeping about and gesturing to basically every corner of our house, laden with gifts from our wedding. "Our entire house is FULL of gifts Nobody, what more could you possibly want?" Yeah, that didn't go over so well. The fact is, I was married to a wonderful man, and really had no needs or wants---but I went into the situation with expectations and was disappointed.

So today, my expectations are low. And so far, Avee needing a nap hasn't made me want to swear, and if I don't get a walk in the morning, there's always this afternoon, when the sun is blazing and the bugs are swarming.


Anonymous said...

"Low Expectations" was just for me. I am still adjusting to a life that doesn't include going to work everyday. It is odd, the sense of accomplishment that just going to another place seems to provide. I have been watching a one year-old for the last seven months, which I really enjoyed. His mom recently had another child and is now at home with both children. I talked to her this morning and she asked about our routine when I was watching her child. It sounded, well lame, when I told her about playing cars, reading books and taking walks. How did that take up the whole nine hours I had Brock in my care? Somehow it did. I guess I have been contemplating how much about life is routine and doesn't sound all that impressive when we tell other people. A lot of our happiness does depend on our own attitude and perspective.
I remember the singing, but I don't remember getting any of the cupcakes. It has been a while.

Alicia said...

I didn't mean for that to be anonymous, I just goofed.

Heather from One Woman's World said...

I think that you should be proud of such a day. And that Benjamin did go to the cuteness school!!!

Big Jay said...

Ang(els in my rearview)... Your blog is sweet. I think you should ask your husband to do the housework all weekend so you can post some more.