It’s quite amazing to see what the most innocent of expectations can create. Trouble, always hassles to surrender. Perhaps in some ways having expectations are like holding a road map.  But tonight I am reminded how much of the scenery I miss when my mind is so committed to the destination (expectations).

Tonight I have the unusual opportunity of being home alone with our , “Little One.”  I was supposed to be at a very special Yoga class tonight. But, no baby sitter was available and my daughter seemed to be too sick to leave with a friend.  So it seemed like a great chance to dote on Little One – to play beauty parlor together and to have a good time. Well, all those grand plans went down the proverbial drain when she fell asleep at 5PM and woke at 6PM as grumpy as a bear woken during hibernation.

My expectations of sweet mother-daughter togetherness were blasted as she had screaming fits…and refused all the “normal” 6PM choices.  We went from a peaceful home environment into the most stressful situation her behavior has created in a long time. Off balance from illness, hunger, and tiredness, she was not someone I wanted to dote on. Still, I tried to stay on track – offering her all the items for our evening and she rudely refused them all.  I had also stated there was an early bed time.  Well of course the nap through that off, too.

Finally after eating a bit of some healthy food we settled into watching a bit of “Little Einsteins.” “Sit with me, ” she had screamed.  Finally, when Little One calmed down, she used nice words and we sat together and shared the best 20-minutes of our entire evening.  When I announced that we would have a short story because we stayed up longer watching to video, Little One loudly protested with all her body’s might. Sadly, I had to close the book and walk away. 

The most painful part of parenting is following through on the consequences I have laid out for our children’s choices.  Surely when I don’t, we all pay for it in worse ways. “Can I have a second chance?” Little One asked.  For so long I have done this too many times that this has become the pattern she’s come to expect. I said, “No. I will be happy to read the story you want in the morning.”  She protested loudly again. My heart is pulled so hard. Our dear child has no idea how hard it was for me to walk away and not read a story together.  One of my favorite activities with the children is sharing stories.

Oh, parenting is a challenge. Whew. And I know it’s not getting easier. I pray that by doing what I said I was going to – consistently, that our children will learn what real life is about – being accountable for the choices they make.  I pray also that in the end, our children know they are always loved, accepted and safe in our home – even when we don’t like their behavior.  By keeping mine in check with healthy boundaries, I pray that they will be better people, too.

Still it’s hard. I want so much to read her that story tonight…to end the night in a sweet “you’re the best” kind of bonding cuddle, to close the day in the way I had expected. It’s painful, as I write, to feel the disappointment of not having shared a special mommy and daughter evening (esp. as we get so few of them).  As I wrap up this anticlimactic evening, I realize how much expectations set me up for this tonight.  I was not open to how things flowed. I was not willing to sway too far from my plan (time with daughter and time with self).

Hmmm, powerful lessons on expectations. God, please help me to surrender to the multitude of expectations I have for myself – and others. I see how these block me from the true gift of the present you give us every day.