Expectations matter. If we explore the roots of all our disappointments and frustrations we come to the conclusion that,
"I just didn't expect you to say (or not say) something like that."
"I didn't expect you to react (or not react) this way."
"I didn't expect you to have that opinion. It surprises me."
"I didn't expect to have to do this by myself (or I didn't expect you to want to do that by yourself)."
"I didn't expect to have to spend my money (or not spend my money) like this."
"I didn't expect that you'd want to spend your time doing this or that."
The only reason you've ever been mad at your brother, your boss, your mother, father, husband, wife, neighbor, or drive-thru lady at Wendy's is ultimately this: "I expected to be treated differently, not like this."
If, say, I expected that on Mother's Day my children would cease to act like 4-year-olds, that they would be well groomed, well-mannered, patient and selfless, and that they would sit still and eat their Asian food all by themselves while their father and I had adult conversation over dinner at P.F. Changs - well, then I would be understandably disappointed.
Luckily, this Mother's Day was not my first rodeo - I knew better.
However, I did think that we would go to one of my favorite bistros and that we would order our food without incident. I thought that Madeline would enjoy her turkey sandwich while Sam ate cheerios in his high chair. I thought that the kids would be delighted when we took them to Coldstone so that I could get one of those coffee ice cream with almonds and Heath bar concoctions. I thought that they would go to sleep when we got home (HA HA HA) and that Dan and I could watch the last Harry Potter movie while we snuggled under a fluffy down comforter.
Instead I fed Madeline her turkey sandwich for breakfast this morning because in a moment of exasperation at the restaurant we told her that she was not allowed to eat anything else until she ATE THAT SANDWICH.
It is still sitting on the table right now.
Also, during dinner Dan left the restaurant and ran across the shopping center to buy pacifiers at Publix because my happy, chill baby was not acting happy or chill.
When Dan returned, Madeline was laying upside down on the booth, her head under the table and her feet in the air, showing the wide world her Little Mermaid underwear. Sam was whimpering and writhing in his chair, surrounded by 17 baby toys all of which he grabbed just long enough to throw to the ground in protest. Dan stepped over the pile of toys in the middle of the aisle and handed Sam a pacifier. Sam took it, looked at it, and threw it on the ground. Then started crying.
We were that family.
At this point, my wonderful, precious husband sat down, reached across the table to take my hand, looked deep into my eyes and said,
"Remember that scene at the end of Twister?"
(My life has the makings of a real romantic comedy.) "Yeah..." I said.
"You know when they're strapped to that pipe, and the tornado is beating them up and there's stuff flying all around and they're wet and filthy and tired and trying not to die? But they look into each other's eyes and it's supposed to be this big romantic moment, like they were meant to be together?
That's married with children.
This is my best marriage advice: don't marry the person you want to spend a day at the beach with - there are dozens of those. Marry the person whose eyes you can lovingly gaze into while you're strapped to a pipe in the middle of an F5 tornado."
Dan is my tornado person.
(After dinner, we went to Chuck E Cheese instead of Coldstone because Madeline was not allowed to eat ice cream. I had nightmares about the freaky animatronic characters on stage. It is 2012, why do these still exist? We rented Harry Potter, and Dan let me explain the WHOLE back story because it was Mother's Day and he loves me. He patiently listened to me talk about "horcruxes," "the elder wand," "Dumbledore," and "the sword of Griffyndor," and just as I reached out to push play, Sam woke up. 12 times.)
To be honest, it was a wonderful day that I suspect I will remember for a long time. I am married to my tornado person, and if I have to be battered by an F5 tornado for the next twenty years, I want these beautiful faces to be the ones swirling around in it.
Doesn't Sam look so enthused about being related to me? He can hardly contain his joy. He is practically glowing. Happy Mother's Day!!!! It's all about your expectations.