Letting Go of Your Own Parenting Expectations

Letting Go of Your Own Parenting Expectations

letting go of expectationsIt is a week before Christmas as I write this.  Well, a little over a week.  As I sit here at my desk I am trying not to be overwhelmed with the things I have left to do before Christmas Eve.  That is the way of things this time of year. We rush around trying to fill expectations and stockings.  In the mean time we try to get in a bit of celebratory time for ourselves.  We try to reconnect with family and friends.  We attempt to sit down for a meal or a party and celebrate making it through another year.  Then there are the normal issues of family life — “fun” made multiplied — by the addition of multiples in the family.

letting go of expectationsI still have piles of laundry to do.

I still have dishes in the sink.

The carpet is still disgustingly stained with God-knows-what.

Before the twins came I had ideas of perfection.  My two perfectly dressed and coordinated babies would be well behaved and never leave a thing out of place.  I would be a well-rested rock star mother who would be able to do everything I ever did and make a perfect place for those two special new humans.

Yes I can hear you laughing.  I laugh now too.

Now, nearly four years into my motherhood journey I know how wrong I was back then.  Fears of never being able to grocery shop with my husband have morphed into thankfulness when I can get the shopping done at all.  My often borderline OCD cleaning of my house has faded in trade for time with those two wonderful children out exploring the ever messy world.

That is the funny thing that children do.  They give you some valuable perspective.  When that little face is begging you to play in the freshly fallen snow, do you insist on cleaning out that sink? Or do you lace up your snow boots and make an angel of your own next to that giggling child?  The laundry will still be dirty when you return, the sink will still be full.  But that moment with your child will have passed.

Moments are just that, glimpses into the entirety of our life.  But over the coming years the moments you said no will grow in them like a seed.  “Mommy is always busy.”  “Daddy has better things to do.”  As children do, they will feel responsible that somehow they were not wonderful enough to hold your attention.  I know I always did. I will be 42 years old in a few weeks and the time my mother didn’t take with me is what I remember the most.

letting go of expectationsSo as we wind down this year and step bravely into the new year, I ask you to take a small step back.  Look at your expectations.  The New Year is a magical time for me personally. Something about the first of January makes my heart feel light and unburdened.  It is another chance.  It is a time to start a new.  Yes there will be times we have to do the dishes and make sure we all have clean underwear.  But perhaps we should strive for balance in the New Year?  Perhaps we should strive to let go of those expectations we cling too so desperately?  “I won’t be a good mother if…”  “My family will never forgive me when I don’t….”   “I am a terrible mother because…”

Ask yourself if the world will truly end if a birthday present is not perfectly wrapped?

Ask yourself what terrible thing will happen if one of the kids doesn’t wear matching socks?

Ask yourself how you will feel twenty years from now?

Yes it is cliché.  “They grow so fast.”  “The years move so quickly.”  But there is truth in this.  In four years I have seen my twins go from small red faced newborns to bubbly opinionated preschoolers that I cannot stop.  They are smart and amazing.  Sometimes loud, frustrating and beyond annoying.  But somehow in those few quiet moments when they curl up on my lap it makes it all worth it.  I live for the moments when I can show them something new or their eyes light up with new found knowledge.  I want to be in the world with them.  I want to be in the pictures.  I want to be present.  I want to spend time with them, no matter how tired I am or freaked out about the state of our clothes hampers.

So in this New Year I will make a promise to be kinder to myself.  I will promise that I will not fret too much about small things.  I make a promise that I will live in the moment with those wonderful children of mine.  Will I be perfect? Heck no.  No one is perfect and frankly that is how we all get stressed out thinking we should be.  But I will do my best to live in the moment, to live consciously.   Trying to let go of all those old expectations is a start.  Because once you know they are there you can shut out that nasty voice in your head and get on with the business of living an amazing life.

Happy New Year!


Katie Sutton works in the IT field and is the proud mom of nearly four year old boy/girl twins.  She lives in Denver Colorado with her husband, her kids, two cats and one dog.  She enjoys writing, reading and travel, all of course when the twins allow.  She hopes her articles will give inspiration and a glimpse into her crazy world.  She thinks life is full of new wonderful experiences at all turns and she cannot wait to live that life to the fullest.