Great Expectations: Literal Mom

Missy of Literal Mom is someone I love to chat with, because she’s A) hilarious B) relatable and C) so very kind. She writes about “literal parenting“, or thinking about what the way you parent, when you parent your children, and that even at our very best as parents, our kids are going to lose it sometimes. She also answers questions that readers have, like this one about kids’ potty mouths.

I love reading Missy’s blog because even if I’m having a day when I don’t feel like a very good mother, I feel like I can get back to the place where I do. And that’s priceless, you know?

Welcome, Missy!

When reality doesn’t meet expectation

Disappointment filled me for many years.

 . . . Going to a birthday party expecting fun and instead carrying a screaming child home over my shoulder who couldn’t handle the stimulation of the party.

 . . . Expecting an easy trip to the grocery store for a few things and instead getting a stubborn preschooler firmly planted in the ground, refusing to walk on her own.

 . . . Being ecstatic to pick my kids up from school for some major family bonding time and having them instead go at each other from the moment they come back together all the way home in the car.

 . . . Thinking I was fully prepared for a meeting and instead getting blindsided by someone frustrated and using the meeting to vent.

All of these moments (and truly, there are 1000s like them) have one thing in common –the reality of the situation didn’t meet my expectation for it.  

And when that happened, every single time, I would be disappointed.

I used to bemoan my feelings to my husband and he would listen, then say, “you just didn’t set your expectations right.”

And I wouldn’t listen to him and I’d get myself right back into the same problem as before.

Disappointment.  Resentment with how so many situations turned out upsetting for me.

But somehow, over time it clicked.

I finally internalized setting my expectations correctly so that my reality wouldn’t be a disappointment.

So instead of heading to a birthday party expecting it to be fun, I would head in with the knowledge that birthday parties are extraordinarily difficult for some kids and I would be more sympathetic to my daughter’s reaction to them.

And learned that there’s no such thing as a “quick trip” anywhere with a child and the more you rush a young child the more they’ll balk.  Especially in a crowded grocery store.

I remembered that even though I may have been alone all day missing my kids, they’ve been surrounded by kids, teachers, rules and have been been working their minds all day. They’re tired and stressed and just need to relax.  While my day with them is beginning, their long day is ending.

And I found that the less I tried to control a meeting for the desired result, the better I could handle the twists and turns a meeting of 18 people could take.  And that was the way it should be.

Life is one great roller coaster of ups and downs and twists and turns.

That’s one expectation I can fully count on.

But in my life’s roller coaster, I don’t like to climb the highest highs and shoot down to the lowest lows.  It’s too much for me.  I like my life’s roller coaster to be a mid-sized coaster where the ups, downs, twists and turns, while still surprising, don’t make me throw up.

Because life’s roller coaster is one you don’t get off of, is it?

Sometimes I still get caught with my expectation pants down.  And I get disappointed again.

But I’m better at saying, “darn – I didn’t set the right expectation for that one.  Next time I will.”  All thanks to him – my husband.


Literal Mom

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26 thoughts on “Great Expectations: Literal Mom

  1. Missy, this was well put. I feel this way a lot, too and then wonder why it doesn't turn out to be the way you want. It's always a good idea to lower your expectations and then, every once in a while, you get a pleasant surprise instead of a huge let-down.

  2. Love this post, Missy. This is something I'm working really hard on right now – expectations for both myself and others. I'm glad to know that while it's a struggle for me right now, it will hopefully one day "click." Thank you for sharing!

  3. Oh yes, I can relate for sure. For example, this morning, I thought we could go to the library and easily check outs some books. And we did but in the midst of our visit there were a hollering toddler and my boys fighting. Right now most outings with all three are NOT ideal and I just have to accept that. They are kids after all. 🙂

    • Sometimes I just have to say to myself, "somebody's going to have to be unhappy on this trip because I can't please everyone all the time." You know? It's hard though and remembering they're kids – helps!

  4. How interesting: my husband was just commenting on how, as you age, the ups and downs of life just aren't as dramatic. I, personally, am happy for this, like you, Missy!

  5. Smart words from the “Big Man”! I have to agree though. It is a total paradigm shift. I had a manager in a customer service position burn this phrase in my brain “Under promise. Over deliver.” and it has been one phrase that can translate through my entire life.

    I too get “caught with my expectation pants down” more often than I care to say but really that is what makes us human right?

    I have also learned that some trips or errands are for mommy only. I save the child appropriate ones for one on one time with my kiddos which doesn’t happen every day so it is special and generally goes smoothly.

    Kudos to the “Big Man” for his brilliance and for you for listening 😉

    • Under promise, over deliver is soooo perfect! And I totally agree with you that some errands are "kid-free" errands by necessity. It's one of the reasons the school year works so well – kid free errands!

  6. Oh yes, this. Exactly this.

    It's such an important lesson, one that's often hard to learn and remember, but yowsa, so very worth it!

    Fantastic post, you two!

  7. I try to come at life with no expectations. For me, even a simple emotion like hope is filled with dangerous expectations, and I deal extremely poorly with disappointment. We just enjoyed a family vacation that I had gone into knowing we would have to get through day-to-day with specific plans that would have to be ditchable based on our kids coping abilities. It actually went really well. SHOCKINGLY well.

  8. This is so true! I had to learn to adjust it, too. So many of the things I expected to be fun for my kids were just overwhelming, and I try to remember that now 🙂

  9. This is such great advice. I normally don't subscribe to 'zen' philosophies (too cynical) but this is one I can get on board with. I'm still working on this, but I've noticed situations are generally less stressful if I go in with no expectations at all. *Plans* – yes – but not expectations… 🙂

  10. "Caught with my expectation pants down" – genius! What a great post. I especially relate to the birthday party expectations – I have them and my older daughter does too. As her birthday approaches, I hope to remember this great advice. Thank you!

  11. I love the pants down line!

    I'm very guilty of this, but as I age I am getting better. In my youth, I wanted control and now I realize how overrated that is!

  12. This is a wonderful post; I'm one that has always had a dreamy, idealized expectation of things and boy do those expectations come crashing down sometimes. You are so right that with kids, you have to adjust your expectations. Thanks for sharing!

  13. We have the reverse situation in our house; my husband is very nostalgic and looks back on his youth with VERY rose-colored glasses – imagining every home, holiday, moment of his life was perfect.

    He wants desperately to recreate such memories for our kids and we always fall short (because DUH – they are unrealistic expectations). He knows this in his mind, but his heart still seeks something unattainable…

  14. I am so guilty of setting my expectations too high. Or sometimes I go the opposite direction and assume something is going to be a major ordeal – and then my husband thinks I'm being pessimistic! I need to learn to find a happy medium. Or just try not to have many expectations at all. Easier said than done, though!

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