Do your experiences match your expectations? Often mine don’t.
Actor/Producer Antonio Banderas said, “Expectation is the mother of frustration.”
I think he’s right!
I was in training to be a mom from an early age. Here is a picture of me hanging doll clothes on a little clothesline my mother put up for me. I played with baby dolls that wet their cloth diapers—not dolls that wore bikinis and dated guy dolls in pink convertibles.
My dolls sat there with smiles, listening to every word I said. They didn’t pull off their diapers and wipe poo on lace curtains. They didn’t take on a power stance and yell, “No!” They didn’t bring home squirrel eyeballs from science class in their jean’s pockets.
Parenting real children did not match my expectations, and it has taught me more than I ever wanted to know. I’ll share three lessons with you today:
Lesson#1 Count the Cost (or as my mother would say, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”)
I met my husband when I was 17 and attending Baker College. We married when I was 18, and nine months later, we were heading to the hospital.
I looked down at my stomach that looked like I had swallowed a huge watermelon whole and thought about how the baby was going to fight its way out of there soon—and how that baby would change my life forever.
I think I had a panic attack. I cried out, “I changed my mind! I don’t want to be a mother!”
Of course, it was too late. After 14 hours of labor, I was a mom—and I still am—and it has changed my life forever.
I might add that I’m a slow learner. We had four more babies after that. Then we learned what caused them.
One day we were struggling through a store. Did you ever shop with five kids? A man stopped us and said, “We had seven kids. Then we found out what caused it—(eating cinnamon toast). We stopped that, and no more kids.”
So we cut out cinnamon toast. It must have worked. We had no more after that.
Lesson #2 Never say Never
I was talking with my best friend on the phone one day when I heard her two year old screaming as if he were being attacked by a bear.
“Is Greg okay?”
“Yeah. I peeled a banana. He wanted me to leave the peel half on so he could eat it like a monkey.”
I looked at my two-month-old angel who was sleeping and thought, “My child will never act like that.”
Two years later… I peeled a banana wrong!
Lesson #3 What we say is not always what others hear.
One day I was in the bathroom with my three-year-old son when I noticed something strange.
“Why do you have on two pairs of underwear?”
“You told me to put on clean underwear. You didn’t say anything about taking off the other ones.”
That son is now a college professor with a doctorate—and with a two-year-old daughter who is teaching him a few lessons.
All of our children now have children. We are all learning this lesson from their children.
My husband took our five-year-old grandson to a wild game dinner. We wondered how it would go over, since he is a picky eater. We thought he would enjoy seeing the decorations, being with other kids we knew were coming, and just being one of the “guys” with Grandpa.
When our grandson went home, our son asked, “Well, how was the wild game dinner?”
“We ate weird food, and I waited all night… They never played any wild games.”
This third lesson applies to adults as well as children—I think it’s a universal rule, What we say is not always what others hear.
A few years ago when the movie Toy Story was popular, I went through a McDonalds drive-through with our daughter and her family. Our grandson had collected several of the toys that came with happy meals—but he lacked the one he really wanted. He kept bugging our son-in-law—“ask, ask!”
So our son-in-law ended with, “Could I have a Buzz Lightyear with that happy meal?”
It was quiet for a moment. Then we heard, “Sir, it isn’t that kind of happy meal. We don’t serve Bud Light Beer.”
My kids taught me a lot. I learned to count the cost. I learned never say never. I learned what we say is not always what others hear.
We don’t know we don’t know—until we know.