Not-So-Great Expectations

December 11th, 2016

Last week, I wrote about the holy beauty of waiting. It was a noble piece – lofty, even – written from a place of confidence because my contractor had vowed that the drywall work would be completed by the end of the week, clearing the way for me to move in over the weekend.

But when the renovations were not, in fact, completed by Friday afternoon, I went rogue. Gone was the striven-for patience and grace. Gone was the spirit-filled anticipation. I was just done. My emotional response quickly morphed from “woe is me” to “screw it, I’m moving in RIGHT NOW and I don’t care if there’s joint compound in the beds.”

So we moved in. I spent Saturday vigorously vacuuming and mopping the floors and hauling my belongings over. Then the kids joined me on Sunday for our first night in the new house.

It was a bit of a train wreck.

I’m slowly realizing that the thing that trips me up most often as a parent is the weight of my own expectations. They’re always too high and too influenced by the sparkling perfect world of Pinterest and parenting magazines. I had hit upon the idea of a First Night Sleepover to help ease the transition. The kids and I would all pile our blankets on the floor of one bedroom and sleep there together. It would be a joyful time of family unity that would cement our bond as a family of four and usher in our life of bliss in the new house.

Ha. The first night in a strange house is, of course, stressful for little people and they express those concerns in deeply obnoxious ways. They jump on the beds and argue over the blankets and demand eighty-four cups of water and move their sleeping bags around the room and insist on sleeping on top of you. Seriously. My three-year-old actually parked her snoring deadweight directly on my chest for several hours in the middle of the night, only to awaken at four AM, ready to greet the day.

The good news is that, while I may be a slow learner, I do get smarter over time. Later in the week, we tackled Christmas decorations. This is another activity that can be glorious and adorable but that also has huge potential for disaster. Little kids and breakable family heirlooms are a dicey combination. But last year, I got wise when packing the decor away. I had sequestered the kid-friendly decorations in their own box so I could easily get them out and let the kids go wild. Which they did. Within ten minutes, the bottom two feet of our Christmas tree was awash in pinecone animals, plastic balls, and assorted paper ornaments involving handprints.

After my rowdy crew was in bed, I queued up my favorite Christmas album and peacefully hung the rest of the ornaments. It was glorious, just like I pictured it.

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