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Expectations Vs. Reality

We all deal with expectations, whether you are in school, working up the ladder of a chosen career, or a stay at home parent such as myself. It always seems like we have people around us expecting something, and we have to give everything we have to meet these expectations. But in reality, those people are not the ones with the expectations, we are. Every deadline, every responsibility in life was put in place by you when you made the life choices that put you in your particular situation. If you fail to meet these expectations, you will always be the most disappointed one in the room. It certainly does not help when we all seem to have those peers that not only excel at meeting these expectations but meet countless others we didn't even dare to take on. Not only do they seem to do all of this flawlessly, and without a hair out of place; they also seem to have the time and energy left over for hobbies. Now I have no idea how these unicorns manage all this, I am one of those hot messes in the other category. I am highly envious of those people, I wish I could be one of them. But alas, it is not within my ability.

I have been trying to come to grips with my limitations. But let me tell you, it is an uphill battle. I am a INFP personality. Which in the broadest terms means I am someone who puts everyone and anyone's needs before my own at the cost of a pretty intense burnout. I am most happy when I am fixing everything for those around me. At my peak I am handing out thoughtful advice, listening to problems and doling out lots of love. But unfortunately, my bucket isn't infinite. When I reach the bottom of the barrel all that is left is a bit of loose change and pocket lint. Now the way someone with an INFP typically recharges and refills the proverbial bucket is isolation. Now isolation as a Stay at Home Mom is kind of impossible. It would be incredibly irresponsible and cruel of me to just shut myself in my room and expect an almost 5-year-old to manage by himself all day. The best I can get is staying up way too late to get some time to myself. Which is what I do. But unfortunately, there are times where this isn't enough. Which is what I have been going through lately. The couple of hours I get at night is enough to add a splash back into that bucket, but then it is empty again pretty quickly the next day. Which means I fail at the expectations I have set up for myself quite often it seems. My home becomes a mess, I am unable to give my son the undivided and enthusiastic attention I want to and he so much deserves. Which means in my eyes, That I am a bad mother. When I am going through this, I have low patience and am depressed. Both of which make me feel like a super crappy mom.

In hopes to rectify this problem when my Husband asked what I wanted for Mother's Day this weekend, I told him I wanted a day to myself. So that is what he gave me. This past Saturday I checked into a hotel just a couple miles down the road from my home. I had not spent that much time by myself since before I moved in with my husband over 7 years ago. So I am here to tell you, it was super weird. Between when I checked in at 4 pm and my son's bedtime at 8, I called home three times. With my final call, my husband told me to stop calling and enjoy myself. So I tried my best to do just that. While it was nice to have zero expectations on myself I felt a lot of guilt and anxiety. Guilt for being away from my boy worried thinking he may have thought I left him. Guilt for leaving my husband, exhausted as he was from a hard week at work to carry 100% percent of the parental responsibilities. But I pushed through it as well as I could. The purpose of this was so I could recharge, and if I didn't allow myself to do this, the whole experience would have been for not. So I lounged on the comfy hotel bed, ate some 'terrible for me' food, and watched 8 uninterrupted hours television. The next morning I awoke. Not because an alarm was going off, not because my husband was calling out to me, and not because I was being jumped on by my child. But because my body decided it had slept enough. That was a surreal experience. I can not tell you the last time that happened. Then I just stayed in bed and watched even more television until check out time. Then when I got home and walked through the door, there were my boys, standing in the hallway shouting Happy Mother's Day. I grabbed my beautiful child in my arms and got one of the greatest hugs of my life. I kissed my amazing husband and was so glad to be home with them because I truly missed the hell out them. My solo mini-vacation had indeed refilled my bucket. But honestly not back to capacity, and that is okay. Because I learned a very important lesson. I need to start giving myself more opportunities to recharge. I need to think about myself so I can give them my best. So I am going to make sure to do that. I am not talking about more hotel stays, I am talking about daily self-care. I need to learn to allow my bucket to recharge without total isolation. Because as great as it was to have zero responsibility, watch TV for a ridiculous amount of time, and wake up on my own volition, I don't want it to come to that again. I have always fancied myself as a strong independent woman. But honestly, I am not truly that anymore. I am only a slightly strong woman, who found a fantastic man as my other half and want to only go to sleep with him snoring and taking up way more than his half of the bed beside me. Yes, not very independent me, but I don't care.

I am learning more and more the true importance of self-care. How can you give your best to the people in your life, your job, your education, if you are not giving yourself your best? We all have our buckets, no matter our personality type. We all need to make keeping that bucket as full as possible a priority. Learn to take an hour, even two of you can find it. Grab a book, watch television, turn on a video game, lose yourself in a YouTube cycle, take a long shower, eat something bad for you, do anything as long as it's just for you. Selfishness has become such a bad word, but let yourself be selfish sometimes. You deserve it, and truly you need it. No matter how strong we are, we all need to be the taken care of now and again. As the great Mama Ru says "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?" So love yourself, care for yourself. It's the only way to be at your best, trust me.

We all have our expectations. Sometimes we will excel at them, other times we will just barely meet them. Sometimes we will fail completely, and that is okay. What is not okay is letting that failure destroy you. You are just one person, and all of us have limitations. Even the unicorns. If there is one thing I have learned about those I feel envious toward their abilities to excel at everything they touch. They still are not perfect. While I don't understand where they find their energy, I can understand the only way they know how to deal with their own personal stuff is to excel. If failures hit us as hard as they do, you can only imagine how hard it will hit them. So don't compare your failures to other people's success. You don't know what that person is going through. What looks like success to you, may still feel like failing to them. I know it is much easier said than done. It's so easy to look to others to compare ourselves to but doing so is nothing but toxic to yourself. The best we can do is manage our expectations to the best of our abilities and forgive ourselves if we fall short. I am in no way a good at this myself. I am just beginning at choosing to think this way. Breaking the cycle of how I have been with managing the expectations I have for myself is new, and old habits die hard. But I hope to grow and learn. I hope to become the best possible version of myself and be able to not be so dang hard on myself when I come up short. I am sure I will fail to meet these new expectations just as many times as I failed to meet the old. At the end of the day, failure is just a part of life. We have to expect to fail sometimes. When we do we have to just dust ourselves off and try to make the next day better. So be kind to yourself, give yourself some much-deserved care. Above all learn that sometimes you must change and adapt your expectations.

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