After what is always a completely fulfilling Holy Week, I’m toast on Easter Monday. I had set my expectations for a lovely day filled with absolutely nothing – coffee, reading, yoga, writing, a nap, and whatever my soul craved. I was ready to send my littles off to school in their candy comas with a kiss and enjoy the next eight hours completely to myself.
As I breathed in the glorious early morning’s first moments of my day of rest, I opened my eyes to the sound of a little boy scratching his head… and quickly discovered that his hair was the thick, luscious host of a family of lice. What was to be my day of blissful relaxation exploded into a frenzy of laundry, shampooing, and quarantining two children home from school. We now have enough special treatments to de-louse an army and if I never see that little comb again it’ll be too soon.
We caught it super early, so everyone’s fine, and nobody but brother had what he lovingly labeled “the crawlers.” This was our first go-round so I learned a lot. It’s a different story for a different day but in short G and I will be wearing ponytails from now until the end of time.
My own personal expectations for the day were totally smashed… and I’m mildly ashamed to say that I totally pouted. Like a real grown-up. I taxed my children on their Easter jelly beans as what I felt was a completely deserved payment for my time and energy. Then I reheated my coffee, and set them up with their zillions of Legos on the tile floor since I had thrown all the couch cushion covers along with all our bedding into the
pit of hell washing machine. Jack and I grabbed our morning reading and coffee mugs and headed outside to shake it off and regroup for the day.
12 seconds later, the children carted their Legos outside and needed every ounce of our attention to determine which tiny 1×1 should go onto the slightly less tiny 1×2. We settled the issue and started re-reading our One Year Bible. Two minutes later, the lawn crew appeared in the backyard, one day early. So we grabbed all the Legos, children, Bibles, coffee mugs, and what was left of our sanity and headed inside. We got them settled back on the tile floor and we plopped in our “prayer chair” to finish our reading over the roar of the mowers. Psalms is not quite as comforting when you yell it at each other.
And then the inevitable happened. Both children needed the ONE Lego propeller to complete their own separate creations. What started as a simple argument turned into a prison brawl, everyone yelling, most of us crying, and one child dramatically nursing a bruised arm on an ice pack while the other had the fear of Our Risen Lord put into him. It was 9:17 AM.
I count my blessings every day. For these little people, the mess they make, the love in our home, and the freedom Jack and I both have to work and live right in the middle of all of it. But on my disaster of a day “off,” that gratitude seemed far away and my patience was shot.
What do you do when your expectations bust?
DO pause and breathe.
One deliberate and mindful breath can reconnect you with your truest self. I believe in prayer and meditation (yes they are different and absolutely compatible) and mindfulness practice – it’ll change your life. I hear you saying to yourself: I don’t have time for that ****. Congratulations! You are precisely the person that needs it the most! If you are too busy for a brief and meaningful pause to connect with God and your own soul, you are too busy. Stop flashing your Busy Badge and treat yourself to better wellness. Ideas on the reading list below. In the moment you feel like you’re going to lose it, literally one intentional breath through your nose and out through a slight restriction in the back of your throat can bring you back to reality.
DON’T lose your marbles.
It is highly likely that nobody’s life is hanging in the balance. So it really is all going to be okay. Grab hold of some perspective.
DO honor yourself and everyone else in the situation.
Losing my temper can feel awesome in the moment. (Check out any video of any MLB coach getting ejected from a game for screaming at the umpire.) But being a jerk never feels good in hindsight. Words matter and they cut so choose them with care.
DON’T blame or shame someone else.
You can’t make lemonade if you’re using both your hands to point fingers at someone else. Chances are they didn’t even know what your expectations were. So how in the world can we hold them responsible for failing to meet them? And we’re all grownups here so let’s act like it.
It is not my son’s fault he brought home The Crawlers. And it is not some other child’s fault for giving them to him. Furthermore, it is not my children’s fault I kept them home from school. It is definitely my own fault for not securing two Lego propellers. And it was shamefully my own fault for being so focused on my own serenity (hahahaha) that their disagreement turned to war.
So everyone calmed down and we ate a snack. Because a Popsicle can solve literally 99.9% of problems in our house. And then we threw on our swimsuits, fired up the grill, planted flowers, ate lunch with our fingers, bobbed for watermelon chunks in the pool, had a cannonball contest, and soaked up the beautiful spring sunshine the rest of the afternoon.
Did it look like what I wanted? Absolutely not. But thank goodness for ruined expectations because this version of Easter Monday was way more fun anyway.
The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr. Patrizia Collard
40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life by Tommy Newberry
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Yoga with Adriene (YouTube channel, completely free – great for home practice)