Changing Expectations


Yesterday, my friend Melisa wrote about managing expectations and it made me think of my own expectations, especially around holidays. Luisa and I strive to make holidays memorable for our kids but I sometimes do too much. 

When it comes to Christmas, we've done elaborate advent calendars. We've baked seven or eight different kinds of cookies. We've made homemade cards for teachers and neighbors. We used to go downtown to visit Santa, tour the Dayton's (and then Macy's) Christmas exhibit, and go to the Holidazzle. And for years, we've hosted a big Christmas eve party. I have loved every minute of everything we've done. Ok...maybe not every minute. I do remember the year I was pregnant with Zeca we took Miguel to the Holidazzle Parade and it sleeted the whole time. But overall, I have reveled in all of it. 

As the years have passed and the kids have gotten older, a few traditions stopped, specifically the visits to Santa and the Christmas exhibit as well as the Holidazzle parade, but we only stopped going to the exhibit and parade because they stopped having them. I'm not sure I would have willingly given them up. Our kids seem to roll with whatever we do - it is my own expectations of myself that exhaust me.

This year before Halloween, we went to the corn maze and a haunted house but didn't have any other big plans. So, I decided that it would be fun for us all to make sugar cookies and decorate them so the kids could take them to school for their friends on Halloween. I told the kids my idea and Zeca said, "Sounds good if you make the dough and cut the cookies. I'll help decorate." Miguel said, "Nobody takes cookies to their friends in high school, mom." I should have stopped right there, right? Clearly, they were not that into it. But I couldn't let go of the idea, so, I made the dough and cut the cookies and baked them. I dragged out the icing ingredients and all the sprinkles and colors and said, "Let's decorate Halloween cookies!" 

I'll spare you the play by play of a less than stellar evening and just say that the endeavor felt like a failure - one that I worked really hard at and then had to clean up after. 

The truth is that my kids are getting older and while I know that, I find that I am still holding on to some of the small rituals that were crowd pleasers when they were small. When the kids were little and in Montessori school, we'd often quote Maria Montessori and urge each other to "follow the child." It turns out that it's just as important to do that when they are older. I hope to keep this in my mind as Christmas approaches so that I manage my own expectations about our traditions. It's time that I start letting go.