Saturday, June 25, 2011

Expectations vs Reality

Well hello there. I have mighty aspirations for this blog and lately I have not been keeping up with my expectations. That, actually, is the topic of this "rage" tonight: expectations vs. reality. As I mentioned before, I recently became involved with a wonderful network of moms called The Power of Moms. I attended my first "Learning Circle" meeting last month (basically a book club where you discuss motherhood). In our meeting we talked about "Acting or Being Acted Upon."

The topic reminded me of a particularly difficult day a while back when I had two little ones under the age of two at home. It was nearing the 5 o'clock hour and there were no dinner plans, the house was a mess, and both girls were crying and needing my full attention. I gripped the phone tightly as I called my husband at the office and told him that I had accomplished NOTHING that entire day. I remember thinking, "How is it that I am a college grad who has lived abroad, learned a new language, delivered public speeches to hundreds of people and yet I can't seem to get through a day of motherhood without feeling overwhelmed and incapable?!"
My sweet, calm husband replied, "Are the kids alive?"
"Have they eaten anything today?"
"Have you spent any one-on-one time with them today?"
"Yep, maybe a bit too much."
"Well then, I think you've accomplished much more than you think."

He was so right. Just today, I was feeling frustrated with my kids as I tried desperately to paint some frames that I'm planning on selling at our local farmer's market. I'm so excited about this goal; I love hunting for old and ornate frames at flea markets and consignment shops and painting them with a fresh new coat of paint. I'm thrilled about the prospect of making some extra cash. I feel as if I'm developing a new talent and I enjoy it immensely. But today I had to be reminded that all good things have their proper place and this project is secondary to my role as mother. And that doesn't need to be frustrating or unfair. I don't need to feel as if I'm constantly being "acted upon" as my kids interrupt me for a drink of water, a diaper change, a kiss on an invisible wound, or to show me the coolest rollie pollie yet. I chose motherhood as my career and I'm happy I did.

Sometimes I wish I could multiply myself and have fourteen Janelle's bouncing around the house, conquering the world. One would be doing my dishes, the other folding and putting away clothes while another one goes to the grocery store and JoAnne's (alone!). One would be playing with my kids while another would be painting frames or writing or reading or taking a nap. But unfortunately there's just me and that has to be enough. And it is enough. Besides, even if I could divide myself into fourteen Janelle's, I know I'd always choose to be the one that gets to play with the kids. Everything else will fall into place.

At the end of our discussion, we were challenged to choose one thing we would do in the month that followed as well as one thing we would NOT do. This was more difficult that I thought it would be. I could easily choose several to do's for the month; there's always a looming list floating around in my head that's growing exponentially. But to choose something specific that I would like to do but choose NOT to do? That's a toughy.

I chose to wake up early every morning. I've been working on this one and I'm finding that I LOVE IT. It's my quiet time and I always have a better day.

I chose NOT to plant a garden this year. It's just not going to happen and I've accepted it, gratefully.

How we feel about our lives depends on the relationship between our expectations
and our realities.

That quote came from an article written by April Perry, co-founder of Power of Moms, and she went on to say, "When we choose to look at the value of what we are doing as
mothers and see motherhood as a serious career that we have chosen, we feel like we're
really getting things done, that we're really acting, not just reacting. We are all more
successful and happy when we take control of what we can control as long as we recognize
this important little fact: all we can really control are our thoughts and our actions.

I've also committed to be consistent with our activity time here at home now that vacation is over. We will continue with our letter of the week and start 4th of July crafts next week. Please stay tuned, and don't forget to let go of something this month. Just let it go.
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1 comment :

  1. Oh, Janelle. I got your blog from your mom awhile ago. I enjoyed reading your post today. I know moms all over have thoughts just like yours, but maybe not the courage to voice them, and let the comments come.

    I'd admire your openness and say hooray for finding your place in the mom world. I too, feel like I can't accomplish all things everyday. I have this little philosophy that says if I clean the house dinner is going to be quick and easy, or if I make a great dinner the living room is going to have to wait. I can't do it all, and that's okay. I'm doing more important things- like trying to build a future generation that will be a little better than my own.

    We all have those mom- moments that give us the opportunity to chose how we would best spend our time. And you-- are spending it on your kids. You will never regret that choice. Spending time on dishes and laundry and finances and projects may produce some sort-of accomplishment, but they will never come close to the elating happiness that comes from creating and building a wonderful family.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts today. :)