Expectations vs. Reality

Today is our fifth day of vacation. We’re spending five weeks in upstate NY at my parents’ home and staying in my 1974 Airstream. While it sound idyllic and in many ways it has been, yesterday I came up hard against reality. I started planning this break sometime last summer and I’ve built up a lot of expectations and dreams about what it would be like. I planned to blog every other day, write creatively for myself, sketch, paint, read, meditate daily and do yoga. In my fantasies my son was always enjoying himself, exploring nature, loving his free time, actively engaged in learning with some mentoring from me, but primarily on his own and loving the lack of a schedule.

But here is reality. For the most part I have been able to read, write, create, do yoga and meditate every day which has been wonderful. However, my son has not adjusted well to the lack of schedule. He just came out of a very demanding and highly structured school year and has talked for months about how happy he was that he didn’t have to go to camp this year. And although I KNEW that he does well with structure and routine I wanted to have a “good old fashioned summer vacation” with lots of spontaneity and free time. I didn’t include any structure in my vision of our summer. Yesterday after the third or fourth (or tenth or twelfth) argument with him, I retired to the Airstream to try to get myself together. I was angry and ashamed at being angry and I was sad. I was frustrated and not enjoying the time that I did have to myself for writing and creating because I was focused on what was happening with my son. It’s hard when I realize my dreams are not coming true. So I thought about what was going on and realized that the majority of the “problems” were mine and they were primarily related to my expectations not being met. Some of the problems were because my son’s expectations were not being met. I realized that he viewed this vacation as an opportunity for LOTS of mom time; playing Battleship, hunting for bugs together, telling me about his most recent fascination with WordGirl on PBS, going fishing, and having a readymade entertainment committee.

And here is the compromise. We made a schedule. Some of it was with his input and some of it was what I know he needs from past experience.. Like a morning snack and an afternoon snack so he doesn’t get cranky from hunger, time to zone out and be on the computer and time to run around outside with the neighbor’s dog (even though it’s raining today).
We also has scheduled daily one on one time with me, with my mom, and with my dad. This morning I apologized for my bad mood yesterday and we both agreed to try harder today. We cooked our breakfast in the Airstream and when we were done he went inside for computer time and I stayed out to meditate, do yoga and write.

Accepting reality works better than fighting against it. I can still plan around my fantasies and expectations but when they’re not being met I can accept what is.

How do you face reality when it doesn’t meet your expectations?


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