“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?” (Matthew 7: 1-4, NAB)
Not to long ago, I wrote a blog on the harms of unmet expectations within your marital relationship. That can be found here: https://catholicmarriageprep.com/blog/entry/unmet-expectations
As dangerous as it is having expectations on your spouse, I realized that it’s more dangerous for me, as a mother, to have expectations that I haven’t shared, on my children. Our family tries to get to the Sacrament of Reconciliation about twice a month and the last time that I was preparing for confession I had an epiphany moment. I frequently confess, “I lost my patience with this child five times, and that child six times. I got angry for no reason at child number three and let a bad word slip!” You get the point. I was looking at things the wrong way. Why did I lose my patience with #1 and #2? Why did I get angry at #3 and swear? (Why is child #4 and #5 so perfect ?…this is what my #1, 2, and 3 would ask if they read this?) I really sought an answer for the questions and so I thought of each scenario. Every time I lost my patience or temper with my children it was because I had expectations on them that either I didn’t share with them or that there was no way they could live up to.
I have talked about unmet expectations in marriage so many times before, and I had even shared that we often have unrealistic expectations of our children, but I was blinded to it with my own children. Yikes, I was now running to confession, not just sauntering! I never wanted to place expectations on my kids that they knew nothing about and in turn become a lunatic because they didn’t meet the person, I wanted them to be. I am not exaggerating when I say lunatic either…sometimes my head spins ?
Now, the things that set me off were, in hindsight, so dumb. Why is everything so clear after the damage has been done. For instance, my #2 child loves to experiment with baking. She watches baking shows and loves to challenge her culinary expertise. The problem: She’s messy and my kitchen is MY kitchen…do you get what I’m saying. We have many times asked her to please clean up after herself when baking. This past week she baked twice…both times while I wasn’t home and didn’t ask permission! She even cleaned up after herself. The second time she baked she was in the middle of cleaning up when I came home and there were SPRINKLES all over my counter! SPRINKLES…it’s almost as bad as glitter to this mom! She was working on cleaning things up, but I reacted to this behavior instead of responding to it. I did not take a moment to breathe…I saw sprinkles and I lost my mind. My poor daughter was in my path of rage, and I broke her culinary experimenting heart. I realized I wanted her to ask for permission before she baked so that I could internally prepare myself for a possible mess. I never shared this with her, I expected her to just know it!!! An expectation that was impossible for her to live up to!
Then poor #3 who was homeschooled for his 4th grade year, where I, his mother, probably took too good of care in organizing him and making sure he always had what he needed. What an enabler I was! Then I send him back to school and I get upset when he can’t make sure he has everything he needs for homework at the end of the day. Well, dummy, you did everything for him last year, why would he be prepared to do it himself this year? So, he came home from school one day, his planner all filled out, which stated he had Science homework…BUT…no Science book. I snapped, “Why would you write that you have Science homework, but not bring home your science book?” He replied defeatedly, “I didn’t know if I could bring it home!” My poor boy really had no idea that the book could leave the school. This lead to a great talk between he and I, but only after I crushed his spirits by placing an expectation on him that wasn’t fair.
I am thankful that my children do not place the expectation on me that I must be perfect, or I’d fail each and every day…heck I’d fail almost every hour of every day. If they do not place such expectations upon me, why do I place them upon them? I am thankful that God is working through me to remove the wooden beam from my eye so that I may see my children as the lovely creatures they are…Children that shouldn’t have to live up to my adult expectations of them.