As incentive to listen to my perspective, I bring you good tidings and a FREE RECIPE of Cinnamon Syrup at the bottom for your Apple Cider, and whatever else tastes good covered in cinnamon.
Mmm. I’m married to the most amazing woman.
A Husband’s Perspective on the Most Important Aspect of Motherhood
I think just about everyone has Great Expectations anytime they begin something new.
On my first day of college, I expected to meet lifelong friends and discover a major I loved, followed by a career I enjoyed. When I said my wedding vows, I anticipated a happily-ever-after marriage. When our first child was born, I had high hopes for being an amazing dad and him being an equally amazing son. When the NFL season begins, I expect the Vikings to have a winning season. When I go to see Star Wars 8 in December, I will have great expectations.
It’s natural to expect things to go the way you want them to – great.
And then, at some point, reality sets in.
I did not meet lifelong friends my first day of college. It took me years to find a steady job. My marriage takes hard work. Raising kids is exhausting. The Vikings aren’t very good, and I just remembered Star Wars 8 won’t have Harrison Ford in it.
And as reality sets in, a fuse is lit. A pot begins to boil. And if I do not realign my expectations with reality, the bomb will explode. The pot will boil over.
From my perspective, watching great expectations fall flat to the ground is a major danger in the life of a mother. It’s not that fathers handle failed expectations better than mother. Not at all. It’s just that mothers usually have even greater expectations, and more often fail to see their aspirations met.
For example, my wife has a business management degree from the University of Georgia, which is a WAY bigger deal than my degree. (Doug, if you are reading this – I absolutely loved you as an academic advisor and teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed my degree. Don’t be mad.)
And yet, I am the one leaving each morning to go to my dream job, while my wife does the dishes, changes diapers and cleans messes that seem to instantly reappear. I stand at my ergonomical desk typing away in the silence of my office, while Meredith carries a one-year old against her hip, trying to stir a pot of chili while her other child screams for her to watch him do somersaults over and over again.
It’s not that she doesn’t love being a mom of two beautiful kids. It’s just not what her original great expectation was.
Meredith was raised in a financially well-to-do family (at least in comparison to her life now). She grew up literally traveling the world, eating at fancy French restaurants and vacationing on sandy white beaches with fancy drinks with miniature umbrellas. By the time we budget rent, food, car expenses, tithing and a couple payments, we are still using the coupon on the back of our grocery receipts for our take-out Papa Murphys once a month.
Again, it’s not that we are poor or that Meredith is unhappy with our financial situation.
It just wasn’t her great expectation.
Social Media Lies
Unfortunately, the world around you does not make it easy to be content with your situation. You are blasted with emails from airlines telling you about how cheap it is to go to London this time of year. Friends on social media, who do not have kids, are going on those trips and posting all sorts of beautifully instagramified photos. As they should be. Travelling is an amazing thing.But the lie that you begin to believe is that without those things, your life is subpar.
Without a “real job,” you are doing no good for society. Without traveling and frequent date nights you are missing out on truly living.
Failed expectations make you, yourself, feel like a failure.
You may not realize it for months or even years, but one day – usually a very bad, no good day at that – all the failed expectations come to your mind at once. And you begin to weep because you feel like maybe you’ve made an enormous mistake.
But it’s all a lie.
Because what you rarely notice during the first years of motherhood are the seeds that are beginning to grow beneath the surface. The tiny seedling that begin to grow as you pour sweat and toil into watering and pulling weeds and praying over and watering again.The lie is that your great expectations somehow failed.
Since my wife has so graciously asked for a man’s perspective, allow me to use a Michael Jordan reference.
Michael Jordan loved basketball from a very early age. He would play against his older brother every day, and every day his brother would win. They played for years, until one day Michael Jordan won.
His freshman year of high school, Michael Jordan tried out for the varsity team, and he was cut from the team because he wasn’t good enough.
His great expectations were shoved back in his face. Except that they weren’t. The varsity coach knew Michael Jordan would be a great basketball player, so he cut him, in part, to motivate him – to drive him toward greatness. And that’s exactly what happened.
The lie is that you have failed. The truth is that you simply need to rearrange your great expectations. Fancy dinners and world travelling probably (in Meredith’s case, are not) part of your story right now. Those things are down the road. And that’s okay. Don’t dwell there. Those are the great expectations of retired people.
Those are the true great expectations.
I am told that one day kids grow up and leave home. I’m not entirely sure that’s true. It feels like I’ve been a parent my whole life, and my son isn’t even three yet. I can’t imagine how much longer it feels for Meredith – for you.
I know its easy for me to say, find joy in the little things, as I spend 7 hours away from the kids each day. Believe me, I’m not saying it’s easy. I deal with a crying wife enough to know that isn’t the case.
What I’m saying is that learning to curb expectations toward the things that really matter right now will be the difference between happy motherhood and unhappy motherhood.
Meredith and I did the math, and we will most likely have an empty nest by the time we are 50. So, we are making some pretty legit world travel plans for 2040. But until then, I am her biggest cheerleader in the great expectations of the here and now.
I really do try my best to surprise her with something fancy or extra fun now and then (and plenty of coffee dates), but I want her to be a mother that 50-year-old Meredith is proud of.
A mother that our kids brag about their entire lives.
A mother with great expectations.
You can follow me on instagram @whatevermoms
Other posts include 10 Lies You Don’t Realize You’re Telling Your Kids, 7 Ways to Stop Being An Angry Mom, Find Out Exactly What’s In the Entertainment Affecting Your Kids