The reality of child-rearing is that the lower your expectations are, the happier you'll be. It's easy to get swept away by romantic ideals of what a fun family outing should look like, for instance, but if you cling to them too hard those ideals will run you over, eat your lunch, and spit the regurgitated pieces back out in your face.
When we started out in parenthood, we had all the ideals. Over time we've shed most of them, one by one, some more painful in the peeling. The result is that our kids are not as well-behaved as we thought they would be, our home is more chaotic than we want it to be, and things that once felt critically important hardly enter our minds anymore.
But we are much, much better parents than we ever would have been had everything gone according to plan.
Have you heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Basically that the key to success in any area is putting 10,000 hours of practice into it. I can see how this might be true in many areas but I don't think parenting is necessarily one of them (though the hours surely help), nor human relationships in general, really. I think the key to success is being broken and coming back to life slightly different.
(Maybe this is an Easter post after all.)
Last week I posted a Rumi quote on Instagram and Facebook, and I've been thinking about it ever since.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.
I'm not the same mom I was 4 years ago. That mom was awfully caught up in the wrongdoing and the rightdoing and was hellbent on seeing the actualization of those romantic ideals. That mom was snuffed out and crushed, and as painful as it was, I couldn't be more thankful to have taken the beating.
When I am old and gray and look back on parenthood, my deepest hope is that my children will say that they were heard and known. For that, I will gladly accept the casualties of other people's judgements and my own inflated ego.
Some things were always meant to die anyway.