Confession: I'm kind of a Disney dork--especially at Christmas. So when my mom told me she'd gotten my sister's family & mine tickets for a joint family trip to Magic Kingdom for Very Merry Christmas this year, I was over-the-top excited!
Daydreams of all the fun memories we'd make with the kids filled my head in the weeks leading up:
excited giggles as the castle came into sight...
playing in the "snow"...
going on our favorite rides...
watching their faces light up while taking in the parade.
But, while those visions eventually came true and the trip ultimately turned out AMAZING, the first hour or two was--for whatever reason--next-level chaotic. When I daydreamed about the trip I didn’t picture my son melting down over the littlest things or people pushing & shoving past each other to make their way into the park. I hadn’t expected that one of the kids would pop a fever as soon as we got there or that the others would fight about things like "his elbow touching my elbow".
With the chaotic mix of the kids & the crowd, it's the kinda thing that has you eventually yelling "THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH AND THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR--WHAT THE H*LL IS GOING ON??!!"
The rest of the trip was every bit the fun & joyful time I had imagined but that first part was a wake-up call when it comes to expectations vs. reality. Kids are a wild card, y'all. When will I learn?
Apparently never because I do this over and over to myself. I build up what something's going to look like in my head and then feel disappointed when what actually goes down doesn't measure up.
And it doesn't just happen at Christmas or with the kids. It happens on family outings, summer breaks from school, and visits with family members we haven't seen in awhile. It's the beach vacation you pictured with sand castles and snorkeling getting rained out. It's getting a little square box for Christmas when you're dating and then opening it to find a pair of new wireless headphones, or trying to explain for the hundredth time to a relative at dinner what a blog is and how, yes, you know it's not necessary to tell everyone your business and...hmph. Totally hypotheticals here by the way, but you get it.
I think it finally dawned on me this time what the answer is to this whole "dreaming of what may be" thing, and I think it's this, as "Debbie Downer" as it may sound: expect to be disappointed. Why? Because, whether it's your overtired kids or your crotchety Aunt Beulah, these are flawed humans we're dealing with--not objects of perfection that we can manipulate to act the way we wish they would. Whether it's with your kids, parents, or in-laws, you may wish and even daydream of things going a certain way, but the reality is that they likely won't measure up--at least not to the degree we fantasize about in our heads.
I mean, think about how unrealistic my expectations were for my five year-old on this Disney trip. After waking at 6:30 am, going through a full day of school, and traveling for two hours (on top of recovering from being sick a week ago), he was supposed to be full of lively, upbeat energy and smiles by 6:00 pm. He's a little boy--probably a really tired one--and I should've given him a little grace and myself a good reality check.
It's human nature to dream & fantasize when it comes to spending time with the ones you love, and I'm not shaming myself for doing so--it's because I care about these people that I want all to go perfectly. The answer isn't to stop getting excited for things, it's just that, when I find my mind going there, I need to learn to pull back and remember that everyone involved is human and accept beforehand that things may, at some point, go south. Essentially, I need to plan on being disappointed BUT (and this is the most important part)…
find joy anyway.
Because, as trite as it may sound, it's true that our loved ones may not all be here next year to--well--disappoint us in some little way. And what's even better is, if we set the bar low, there doesn't even have to be any let down at all, because you come in with no expectations for anything other than being present for whatever goes down--good or bad.
I rarely come on here to give any advice, usually just to share what I've gleaned from my own experiences, but can I make a suggestion this holiday season? Maybe the best things you can bring to your next family function or holiday get- together are an invisible can of no-stick cooking spray, a smile, and no expectations. Spray that stuff on nice and thick so when the little one has an embarrassing meltdown, your sister-in-law gets all passive aggressive again, or Grandma rants about politics, that s**t slides right off and you can find happiness in the fact that they're all still around to remind you how to find joy in the chaos.
I'm Krissy & I'm so thankful you're here. Teacher-Mom life is rewarding but it's tough--we need fuel (& each other) to keep going. I hope this is a place you can go that feels like caffeine for the soul--uplifting & highly addictive ;) Check out the categories below and, if you like what you read, subscribe to make sure you always have good Sunday morning reading to go with your coffee :)