Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lower That Expectation Height

Lately I've been thinking a lot about expectations. Expectations for oneself, other adults and children. Are they positive?

I know that expectations have let me down many times before. The mister and I no longer go to festivals with expectations as we were being let down constantly. Since making that choice we have enjoyed every festival we have been to, in fact they've been right up the top. I also know that expectations have let me down with friends and family as I'm sure their expectations of me have let them down too.

I have high expectations of myself and I constantly let myself down. I expect myself to be a better parent, I lie in bed every morning saying that today will be different, that today lufflump and I will spend the whole day doing crafts. I beat myself up that the house is rarely spotless, that washing is rarely folded and put away, that the benches have crumbs on them and the floor needs to be mopped. Lufflump will have an apple and orange for dinner and I'll hate myself just a little bit more because I didn't cook even though he's quite happy with his healthy dinner.

I have unrealistic expectations of lufflump and I shouldn't. I expect him to eat what I serve ALL THE TIME. I expect him to enjoy doing crafts when we do them. My expectations of him cause me not to go out in public with him alone. I can't control what he does and I don't want to be that frazzled mother people pity or despise in shopping centres. 

You know what I realised the other day? I had a 'aha' moment when I realised that toddlers can't control their impulses, they don't have patience or understanding why they can't just have what they want EVERY time. Adults, however, can but we shouldn't expect that toddlers can. Much of my anxiety comes from what society expects of parents and children. The expectations are irrational and damaging. 

I never used to care about living up to stereotypes before children. Now being and looking like a young mother (who out some could assume is a single mum) I am anxious about living up to the 'stupid young, naive mother' stereotype. I don't want to experience a meltdown in the shopping centre by myself, because that's not what society expects of a good mother and child. I'm fine experiencing a meltdown with the mister there as one of us can escape with lufflump or we can work it out together. At least that's the expectation anyway.

These may be my problems, my expectations but it's not just me. The stares people give the parents of crying babies in shopping centres. The shaking of the heads at the toddler screaming for a lollipop. The tsk tsks towards a stressed mum running towards the toilets with a wet pants child. 

When lufflump and I used to catch the bus to daycare we used to play in the shopping centre before it opened. We'd go up and down the escalators, look at the sliding ads and make funny faces in the glass windows. Once an old lady gave HIM a death stare, he was running a few steps ahead of me giggling. She stopped and gave a two year old a death stare for being a toddler. Who gives a toddler a death stare? What are her expectations of children? Sit down and shut up? Is that still people's expectations? 
This face does not deserve a death stare!
If lufflump was a few years older and noticed he was copping a death stare how would he have felt? He wasn't doing anything wrong, how does that help his self esteem? No doubt it would confuse and hurt him. How do you explain that to a child? All because of some lady's ridiculous expectations of children. 

My point here (sorry for the random rant) is that maybe we all need to reassess our expectations, of ourselves and others. Maybe it will help my anxiety, maybe it will save a parent from feeling like shit, maybe it will help a child's self esteem, maybe it will save a life. 

Do you have high expectations?


  1. I just posted about letting go of perfectionism and I think unrealistic/too high expectations are a major cause of my depression and anxiety over the years. Changing that one thing is a key part of making overall changes in my life to be happier and more content.

  2. Great post! Definitely making me think it might be time to lower my expectations of not only those around me, but mainly myself.

    I was that mother in the shop today who's toddler had a massive meltdown (check out my blog for my major rant) but maybe my expectations were too high to start with.

    Hmmm thinking now! (and yes that face is way too cute to give a death stare too!!)

  3. Totally get where you are coming from, I have the same little problem :( Looking like I'm 14 does NOT help when you are attempting to take a 2 AND 3yo shopping alone lol I find myself flashing my wedding rings constaintly. Doesn't really work, I gotta say.

    Great post anyway! I really do need to sit down and reprioratize my thoughts better. No parent needs guilt let alone guilt that is unwarrented!


  4. I couldn't have said it better!
    I think that was a lot of the cause of my anxieties. I can't shake my expectations completely (especially the ones of myself), but I have worked on not giving a shit about people who I don't know a lot more. It's still hard. It's still frustrating. And sometimes I don't WANT to give people the benefit of the doubt. I want to smack them in the head and tell them to grow the fuck up.

    Being a young mum? Oh man do I feel you. It never ends. I thought it had eased off until Bluey started school and it started again. Just got to keep on doing your thing and knowing that those who are judging, are usually miserable with their own lives, and sometimes, use it to re-evaluate. Keeps us on our toes! ;)

  5. Yes, you have a good point here but lowering expectations have its side effects, too. Because you can't just let your child or yourself to be on the flow you must have some dreams, goals which can be achieved by working hard, not by lowering you expectations. What do you think?
    Have a nice day!

  6. I used to have high expectations - that was one of the major reasons i fell into depression and had social anxiety disorder.... because i expected SO much of myself and assumed others had those expectations of me too.
    Now? I've learnt to let go a little. I have my " mother guilt " moments but 95% of the time i a happy and satisfied in what i'm doing and how i'm living my life ( even if my clean washing is threatening to take over the loungeroom and i go without make up for a week at a time ... )

  7. Totally hear you on the young mother stereotype. I never leave the house without my wedding rings and make a large point of always trying to be calm and have my children under control.

    The other day I ducked down to the shops and after a fifteen minute battle with the toddler, negotiated on no-shoes and a spaghetti-stained tshirt with his jeans. I got lots of 'poor woman can't afford shoes' kind of looks. Gah! I'm a mother under 25- not a young mother.

  8. We all feel that way, thanks for this post T! Don't beat yourself up, we are all in the same boat!

  9. Great post. Even though my eldest is 9 now, I still can't cope when my 2 year old has a meltdown when we are out. And yet you are right, it comes down to expectations, and largely the expectations of ourselves. Ultimately I don't care about the opinions of the people at the supermarket, and yet I can't rationalise like that when I am out, I just want to get out of there as soon as possible.
    Something I have to work on....


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