Eliminate Expectations

It started out just as I had hoped. Asher glided over the water in his kayak, and Shaya and I paddled well in our tandem. Eliana brought up the rear on her paddle board, my strong confident girl standing upright on the board, paddling into the lake.

We paddled into the wind, angling for an island up ahead, but we’d been warned that paddelboarders had to stay on their board at all times, while kayakers could hop out and wander the sandy island.

But we kayakers went too fast for my girl, so she called to us to wait. I stopped paddling, letting the wind push us. The distance between us grew.

I knew the right parenting thing to do would be to switch with her. Take over the paddle board so she could wander the tiny island with her brothers. So I did the super-mom thing and held the board while she jumped off and climbed on myself, steadying as I stood upright.

But then I was annoyed. I stood there, drifting in the wind, my feet arching into the balance. Waiting for them to finish their exploration. They could have wandered the island longer but I became the nagging mother, urging them into their kayaks because that’s what we came here to do.

Damn expectations. They serve no purpose, really. Except for to create disappointment and resentment.

Kensington Metropark, where we were yesterday.

What we came to the lake to do, really, was to be together on a  bright summer day, just the four of us, and enjoy that. Peace. Fun. Sun and water. Something different. No phone competing for our attention, no work to do, nothing but being on the water, together, and enjoying it.

Except I didn’t.

I paddleboarded once before, on a calm river in northern Michigan, and in my memory, I loved it and am this hip cool paddle boarder. Yesterday, I’ll admit, I really didn’t like it. After a while, my feet hurt and I just wanted to sit down. But I didn’t want to lose balance and fall into the mucky lake.

When the kids hopped onto another island to explore, I held steady by gripping a branch sticking up from the lake. I bent at the waist and held on in a somewhat shaky way, as they had a ball outside my line of sight on the other side of the island. By then I was cranky, no longer super-mom, officially annoying-mom-from-hell.

I finally ordered them back in the kayaks so we could resume our paddling. They were disappointed. So was I. We headed to shore.

The water park I did not want to go to. Bad mom.

Once on land, they all wanted their own kayaks, so I trudged up to the rental desk to make the change. Almost done with the transaction, Eliana appeared and announced that none of the kids wanted to kayak any longer. Cancel the transaction, I told the sweet kid at the counter, who sighed in exasperation.

When I headed back to collect my kids, they were all eager to swim at the beach or go to the water park. Um, really? Those were options? I don’t think so.

And so I became even grumpier mom, strictly enforcing that it wasn’t one option over the other. I did not want to be at a water park – forget the chaos that reigns at those places, but the cost of taking all of us, and me just sitting there keeping track of three kids while the water flies in all directions.

And I was not about to swim in the lake. No book to read on shore, bright sun, and everyone was getting hungry.

The cool restaurant where we ended up for lunch, sitting outside and listening to a really good musician.

Let’s just say the day wasn’t turning out like I had planned in my head.

And that’s the thing of it. Expectations have no business in our lives. Some moments are great, some are not, and we recover from them all just fine.

Last night, we piled onto the bed and snuggled into each other and were happy to be there. We roasted marshmallows over the gas burner in the kitchen because it was raining outside. A day recovered from a shaky start.

It all works out. Better than expected in the absence of expectations. Recovery when we mistakenly make them.

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