Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Myth of Feeling Settled

A couple months ago I posted this on Instagram: 

Thinking about a lot as I re-nest and settle into a new space...I often have these lofty ideas about feeling "settled". I had actually thought that we could move across the country and in just 2 weeks everything would be in place, the house finished and decorated. Check. This, at least for me!, was an unattainable goal, yet I'm constantly striving for unreachable expectations. I thought about what other areas, what people (read my children!) that I fuss over thinking I can get them to some elusive "settled" place of being. How much do I strive to get the kids all tidied up, have this behavior problem solved, have that issue resolved and grieved over? Check. Moving on so we can focus on bigger, better things (whatever that means!). I'm possibly late to the game on this, but I feel as though I'm finally understanding the beauty of The Journey; and the freedom that comes when that journey, The Process, is all that there really is!

Hello, my name is Eryn, and I am an Expectation Junkie.

How often do we let our expectations of some unattainable goal, some lofty ideal for our children's behavior, or some burden we have placed on ourselves to rule our days and weeks?  Do we ever get to where we want to be?

How much disappointment do we live with under the weight of our unmet expectations of ourselves and our children and how much of that disappointment turns to shame?

I'm thinking of myself, my own children, and the many parents I have worked with. having the privilege to walk beside in their own journeys with their families.  We all so very much want to have our homes in order, our lives in order; everything in a place, every kid's strange behaviors in a box, carefully tucked away.  I was listening to a TED Talk by Brene Brown on vulnerability where she said that the field of social work/ helping others is messy.  She claimed that she was more of a "Life is Messy, Clean it up, Organize it and put it into a Bento Box" kind of person ;) We can all relate to that right?

That bento box life, though, is not real life!  And here is the trouble with the burden of expecting to be able to carry out a bento box life-  your expectations will inevitably lead you to shame.  And shame is not our birthright, friends!  It definitely loves to lurk arougnd like it is, but it isn't!


Two months ago, I began an experiment to not have expectations of my children.  I tried letting go of expectations of them for a whole day, having a low bar with just simple respect and not hurting anyone as the baseline :).  I think I lasted until we got into the car!  This experiment quickly showed me how many expectations I have for myself as a parent!  Then I tried not having any expectations for myself and that only lasted about 10 minutes!

I began to notice how many times I said, "I need to...." and "I should..." and "If only I could just...."  All sneaky ways that lofty expectations creep in.  Then I began trying to eliminate these types of phrases from my vocabulary; and by "vocabulary" I mean my talks with myself in my head :)

Over the summer I got the hang of this more and more.  Now, school is in full swing and there are actual expectations of me and my children imposed by others!  With this I am beginning to again feel the tugging in by the myth that I can somehow get to a "settled" place if I just (fill in the blank).

I am learning the balance between structure and just giving my children space to let it all hang out after a day of trying their sweet little best to live up to what is expected of them in the classroom.  I'm re-learning how to have grace with myself for things like not sending in every last school supply on time.

This is hard!  But totally worth it in our journey together as a family.

So join me today, fellow parents and friends, in throwing off expectations- of ourselves and our children!  Maybe it's not all about being settled, arriving at the destination you are hoping for, or achieving some sort of status quo.  Perhaps it is about being settled in the process, the journey of loving, being messy, and living well with others.

I leave you with a quote from a book that comes out today that is a great reminder for me that I am ordinary, even when I'm not "where" I want to be:

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