I wish it were the novel…but it’s the list in my head. So many expectations…in every area of my life. Some are specific and some are inferred. Some are imperative–feed, clothe, love, educate my child, cook dinner more frequently than not, laundry…make sure my house does not look like the atomic bomb exploded in it. Most of these expectations are a part of the universe in my head–the dangerous place…
In the 9 months that I have been a mother, people ask me the same questions–“how’s it going? Do you like being a mom? How is your ministry going?” I keep answering (though sometimes I do not believe me) “good, but I am still looking for balance.” Seasoned moms laugh and say, “good luck with that!” I have also said, “I wish I had a boss just to tell me what to do next.”
Jack is a precious, precious, precious boy, and I am really enjoying being his mom and seeing Greg engage as his daddy. In my heart I trust he is doing well. However, it’s hilarious the panic that ensues when I see other moms feeding different things to their babies or having a special toy, etc. I am like “wow, have I been content with this stage and missed something he needs to continue to flourish?!?!?” It can be things as simple as a sippy cup or bits of food. I think to myself….”boy have I gotta step up my game and be on the lookout to anticipate all his future needs.” Then, I am trying to talk to him all the time like the doctor told me. More than that, I want to continue talking to him about God and theology from now on…gotta keep that on the tip of my tongue with him teaching as we go. Then I think, “do I simply sit and play with him enough? Is he catching the tv screen too much, will he get ADD?” I hope you are laughing by now at the deluge of my thoughts. Most of the time, I throw up my hands and hold on. I have really not been anxious about motherhood–though it sounds as if I have been. God has given me a peace from the time we even learned that we were going to be parents.
Where my thoughts can really get crazy is the expectations to be all I was before and more. Ministry to young women. The time to meet with young women has shrunk to two specific days a week. There is more than just sitting down with them…there is prayer and study and what they share. I am not enough for them–nor is that the point. The point is to point them and bring them to Christ as their all sustaining one. I feel as if I am doing some of the same things with them that I do with Jack…teaching them about who God is, his faithfulness and not fixing them but bearing with them and presenting them before God in prayer. I told Greg the other day that there is a lot of heaviness in the lives around me right now (but there always is because of the nature of this life engulfed with sin)…heartache, transitions, struggle in marriage, eating disorders, loss, strife in relationships, unbelief… My expectation problem spirals out of control when I try to be the fixer. Fixing is much easier than walking alongside with heart work. I get exhausted, and I feel completely ineffective. I have expectations of myself to always be prepared, to anticipate needs, to be able to minister to more and more. I also have them on my mind all the time praying…then I think “am I praying enough, am I praying in line with God’s word?”
The only problem…the space on my plate has gotten smaller because I have this life that I care for continually physically, emotionally, spiritually. So, I have to learn the balance of what is realistic for me to expect. I have drawn boundaries to others with my time–Tuesday/Thursday from 8:30-2:30 (when I have childcare), but I have greater expectations of myself on the inside. And what happens when my expectations cannot match with my output? I continually feel like I am failing. Honestly, there are areas where I really am failing, but I remember to lean into my Savior.
I want to be more as a friend to friends who are struggling and hurting. I want to be better at pursuing friends–I need to just have fun and share my heart. I want to be purposeful as a wife in loving Greg well. I want to be organized with cooking and lose this baby weight. I want to serve the church well. I want to be a helpful and loving family member. I want to paint and write and create. See why I am unbalanced:)?
This morning greeted me with many muscles in my body aching. I shared this with my mom, and she said, “you are trying to do too much and always on the go.” I responded with “but I am not doing that much–I’m not getting anything done!” My reality and my expectations are not balanced. It is helpful when someone can speak into that–especially when that someone is one that is on the go all the time, as well. I grew up witnessing a mom that had a full-time teaching job, a part-time job as organist and a full-time job as my Dad’s ministry partner. I remember her cooking, cleaning, ironing and talking to people every night and not sitting down until 10 pm. I do not have the energy my mom had, but in my own way, I think I am trying to keep up.
As women, I think we are caught in this endless banter in our head. We each have different expectations, and many times, we compare ourselves to many people who excel in different things. At that rate, we are ALWAYS behind and always feeling less than. My prayer is that I listen to the One who directs and has called me…and listen to what He wants. I pray He give me the wisdom to have realistic goals and expectations of myself and to serve excellently by depending on Him in those areas. I had an irregular adulthood in that I had time before kids to develop in ways creatively and and use my time ministerially and personally that most people do not experience until empty nest. I now am having to readjust expectations to balance well now. Please pray that I can…I want my heart to be at peace for the long haul.
Hopefully you do not want to commit me after this post…just wanted to be vulnerable to hopefully encourage anyone out there on the expectation treadmill!