One Sunday after Mass, I angrily walked to our car and strapped in one of the kids, while my husband strapped in the other. I got into the car and huffed loudly, "WHY DO WE EVEN COME TO MASS??!" That particular Sunday, both boys were a noisy mess throughout the entire hour and a half. They were fussy, loud, squirmy, and resistant to all of our attempts at discipline. We took turns taking them out into the vestibule, my husband doing most of the hard work that day. "Well", he began cautiously, "It is important to, at the very least, fulfill our obligation to God...", I abruptly cut him off, "I KNOW. I don't mean it, I just have NO idea what Father even said today." I was so incredibly frustrated, and the 110 heat did not help. I was not only frustrated, I was angry. Angry that the kids did not behave, angry that I did not get to participate in mass at all, and angry that I did not know what do. NOT taking them to mass is, for us, not an option. We both feel strongly that in order for the boys to learn how to behave in mass, they actually have to GO to mass. However, I knew that the issue was not the boys at all, it was me.
Even before we had children, I definitely would get distracted in Mass, sometimes thinking about what we would have for lunch afterward, or what needed to be done that day to properly prepare for the week. I often wiggle around trying to find a comfortable position and have a hard time listening. How could I expect my little 2 year old and chunky baby to know how to focus when I myself struggled too?! The reality that my expectations, not my children, were the real issue helped me to step back and look at everything that frustrated me about having kids in a totally new light. I would wait until 10 am to get the kids ready for us to leave by 10:15 and then be super annoyed when we ran late. I would insist that we could handle "one more errand' before nap time and then have two very angry boys throwing things out of my cart at the grocery store. I was setting myself up for disappointment. I was expecting WAY too much from my little guys. That was not their fault, it was mine.
So, I started to slowly adjust my expectations, and than everything started to get better. Mass is more peaceful, not because my children are suddenly angels, but because my expectation is that we may need to remove ourselves from the congregation for a few minutes, and that is ok. I no longer rush anything, grocery trips, the library, Costco, the park...all of those take as long as it takes. If I need to cut out an errand, or forgo my original plan completely because the boys are getting antsy, then I do it calmly. This mind shift of adjusting my expectations has helped me so much in my motherhood. I feel so much better about our days, and they go a lot smoother. I am striving to create a peaceful home, not only for me, but for my family. They deserve that.
I was cleaning up after lunch late one morning and went to toss the remnants of fruit salad and pasta when I found, in our trash can, Oliver's plastic plate and fork. I was puzzled for a second when I realized that he had misunderstood me when I told him to put his plate in the sink, and his diaper in the trash, it took me a couple days to find the diaper. I laughed. I actually laughed, because he was trying so hard to follow directions and meet the expectation that we clean up after lunch. Even if he DID end up throwing away a bunch of metal forks without my knowledge, leading me to make a run to the store to get more, he is trying. That is really all I can ask of him. That is realistic for now.
Obviously, as our kids grow, and show us their temperaments, we can start to expect more and more from them. However, for now, adjusting my expectations daily is working out pretty well…even if it means we have to buy more silverware.