All posts,  Emotional Wellness,  Military Lifestyle Advice

Family Life & Expectations

Over the last few years we have had lots of company. It seems that we have a revolving door but in a whole new way.  From Michigan, to El Paso, to Colorado Springs in just 5 short years, everyone wants to come and check things out.

You see, I come from a huge family and have always been surrounded by many generations and lots of “family activities”, that is until we joined the military.  This new lifestyle has given me the opportunity to go about our daily lives without the pull of things like family dinners, birthday parties, dance recitals, errands and all the other dynamics that come with living close to family and lifelong friends. And now when they come to visit, I’m pulled back into that world that I miss.

The “kids” and the “elders” all come visiting with a plan. They want every moment to be an adventure, where they can reconnect, capture some of the energy of “the old times” and create new “memories” with the Davis’. All of us miss the daily togetherness of living close, and want these short visits to somehow make up for the being apart. For some of us this happens in learning about El Paso and the southwest, for others it is gold prospecting in the Rockies, and for many it’s even about Aunt Judy’s cooking. Each of us has a different “plan” of how we can keep things like they used to be, while at the same time knowing that is really not a possibility.

Now my idea of what these visits “should” be like is SO much different. I envision “hanging” out, catching up and relaxing with one another. I mean that’s what we always did when we lived close by right?  Our family isn’t formal and going to my parents or in-laws homes was always fun, absolute chaos, but fun. We enjoyed just hanging out, we might catch a movie or run to a store, but for the most part it was playing games, laughing, eating great food and just being together sharing our daily routines. And for the record, we still do many of those things when we get together, but now I wonder if they are having a good time, if they are bored, or even if they will think the trip was worthwhile.

I even find myself anxious as I wait for our next guests to arrive. I’m worried that the house looks good, and stress over the puppy and whether or not she will behave. I’m already thinking about my meal planning, and activities that they may enjoy.  But most of all I am dreading all the “prep”. Which for me is odd.  Usually I don’t worry about that kind of thing, especially with family. But now that we aren’t together regularly, I find that I’ve become a little more “formal” and tend to set my expectations a bit unrealistically. Which again for me is odd.

So I spent some time “going there”, and realized that my stress was because I had expectations of what I wanted, expectations that have nothing to do with anything that matters. I realized that I had my own agenda, just as every one of my previous guests have had. I had a need that I wanted filled because I miss them so much.   And if I’m honest, I’ll admit that for a brief moment I believed that my expectations and needs were the most important…..because in my head I’m the one who is away from everyone and that makes my needs stronger. (yea yea I know it’s not true, but it’s how I felt in that moment – and I’m over it now thank you very much! 😉 )

Sounds like a “Coulda had V8” moment right? I think that family events are a time where expectations pretty much rule everything. We all expect a reaction to the gift we give, a meal we prepare or an ear to listen. We expect help, I mean we are family right? Yes, we expect a lot of things during these get togethers. And expectations are often what leads us to disappointment and stress.

What if it was different? What if we all could just live in the moment, with no expectations? What if I didn’t worry about the house, the activities? Wouldn’t things be easier? Wouldn’t it be just like before? I think it’s possible for family togetherness to be stress free and relaxing if we stop worrying if Auntie is having fun, or if the dinner is perfect. I mean I didn’t even think about what hanging out together would feel like when I took it for granted that we’d see each other regularly.

So I think that as it gets closer to our guests arrival, I’m going to do my best to have no expectations. I am going to focus on living in the moment,  being a gracious host, and enjoy it all! Although I will make sure that they never forget “Aunt Judy’s Cooking”.

 

~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com

One Comment

  • John Page Burton's Scenes From The Street

    When a person turns expectations into “preferences” it opens up a much calmer energy all the way around. Preferences give us freedom. “I prefer” that things be this way but if not well that’s ok. Expectations lock us in and that is where the angst comes in.
    I try to practice this in all situations and my life is much calmer and “flow with”. Great message!!! Thank you.

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