Friday, April 3, 2009

Not quite what I had pictured...

Expectations. It is not really a bad word, yet in my experience it probably should be. For me, expectations have been the cause of most of my disappointments in life.
When I got married I expected my marriage to be like a fairy tale. It didn't matter that my parents had a normal marriage with ups and downs, good days and bad days. Though they loved each other and were committed to each other through hard times and easy times, theirs was not the marriage I expected. Mine was going to be more like Cinderella's. I was going to have the happily ever after, blissfully perfect, the prince-exists-only-to-make-the-princess-happy kind of marriage I had seen in the movies. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone else that the reality of marriage set in pretty soon after the wedding. Of course, Tim had not entered into this relationship thinking his entire existence was now about making me happy. Like almost all of my unmet expectations, marriage has been a huge learning experience for me. I have come to see, over the years, that relationships can not be so one-sided and self-centered if they are to be truly fulfilling to either person. I have had to learn to give a little in this relationship and not simply take, take, take.
My marriage truly is wonderful. Tim is amazingly patient, supportive and forgiving of me. I could not have asked for a better Prince Charming. Yet, we have a marriage that is a lot more like my parents' than like Cinderella's. Tim and I disagree, we fight (mostly about money, obviously not a problem for all the princesses who had unlimited funds), we have days where we are just not getting along for one reason or another. We struggle through the most mundane of challenges- should we put sod in the front yard or put a down payment on a new car with our tax refund money, what is the best way to get our four year old to stop sucking his thumb, who's turn is it to vacuum the family room. This is not what I had pictured when I was a teenager envisioning my future. It took me a while to realize that this is real and real really is better. Real is where we learn to serve God, where we learn to love others like He loves us, where we learn that we were made for so much more than taking- we were made for giving and sharing.
Once I learned that you'd think I would be on the right track as far as setting realistic expectations...not necessarily! After the reality of marriage set in, Tim and I decided to start our family. I think in the back of my mind, all those years ago, I expected motherhood to fill in those blanks marriage failed to address. I knew I was a selfish person (marriage had made that painfully obvious) but I figured having a baby would automatically solve that problem. So we welcomed our first child 6 weeks before our 2nd anniversary. Once again, reality did not quite meet up to the expectations of perfect parenthood I had envisioned. I was still a selfish person, and did not always want to get up in the middle of the night with a screaming infant. I did not enjoy poopy diapers, endless laundry, or ill-timed spit up on my shoulder. Having a baby did not feel as much fun as it had looked when I watched other people experience it. Our oldest child is 10 1/2 years old now. We have three other children and a fifth on the way. Though I have come to terms with motherhood in much the same way I came to terms with marriage, I still have days I wake up in the morning and think; this is what my life is all about? Cleaning up spilled milk, facing a sink full of dishes- all the time, refereeing fights over coloring books, where is the glamour? Where is the bliss?
Is this really where God wants me to grow in holiness? Of course it is, and if my expectations of ease and paradise had been met I would never had grown at all. I would never truly appreciate God’s grace and mercy in my life. I would have missed out on a real life of giving and growing. And if I had known that life would be all about endless wiping, scrubbing, and picking up, kissing scraped up knees and dealing with whiny kids, running to the store to buy coffee for my husband so he could get his daily caffeine fix and making sure he has chips and salsa to snack on in the evening; would I have still signed up for this vocation? Without a doubt-- why should I have expected anything less?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kari,

    Thanks for sharing this. It was written so well and I appreciated reading it. It's so true!

    Theresa Galante



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