Tuesday, January 10

Low Expectations

I have one New Year's resolution, and it may sound a wee bit odd.

I want to keep my expectations low.

Yep. That's it. 

Now, in the past, I would have seen that as a negative, as another chance to look at life through a cynical lens, but now...now....I see it as a gift. I learned this, as I learn most things, from my children.

On New Year's Eve, we decided to do something as a family, since we'd had a lot of time apart travelling the past few weeks. We packed everybody up in the car, swimsuits on and goggles in hand. Now, you have to understand that we are former Floridians and we loooove a good swim in the pool or the ocean. There, we used to live in a neighborhood with a community pool which, upon our arrival, quickly became a just-our-family-pool as the retiree neighbors ran away. I'll never understand why the arrival of 3 kids with noodles, squirt guns, homemade parachutes, boats and rafts would bother them. But I digress.

We also had one of the country's most beautiful beaches 10 minutes from our house, conveniently located across the street from the world's best donut shop. Needless to say, we frequented the beach....ah...frequently.

In Guatemala, we have missed the water. The beach is an hour and a half away, and while it is undeniably beautiful, the waves are rough and the sand is black, volcanic stuff that I find myself digging out of my kids' ears for days after. We enjoy it, but it takes a village to get there.

So. Back to New Year's Eve and the Great Pool Expedition. We were willing to cough up some extra quetzales and do what it took to enjoy a little sun and water. We oh-so-non-stealthily dragged ourselves, our beach bag, and our three slightly excited children into the local well-appointed, posh hotel and presented our desire to pay for the use of the pool.

Ummmm....No. Not that day. Turns out there were so many guests in town that the pool was closed to outsiders such as ourselves.

Ok...I was quite disappointed, but, having been a mom for just a few years, didn't let it show and turned to console my children...only to find that they were completely nonplussed by the whole thing. Their dad informed them that we would try another hotel, so we loaded all the children plus aforementioned gear and towels back into the car and drove to our next destination.

Ummmm.....No. Not that day. Turns out you had to purchase a lunch buffet...pay $20...blah, blah, blah.

Having been a mom for a few years, I turned to console....what?? My children were still nonplussed. Getting a little sad, but still....maintaining a ridiculously positive attitude. It's tricky when they act more mature than I do.

Finally...we ended up at a glorified cement pond near our house....and my children splashed and played like it was the most upscale, four-star pool they'd ever seen. Nobody complained, nobody whined about the fact that the water was a frigid 70 degrees (did I mention we're Floridians?? We're used to 90 degree heated pools!). We ate our PB&J's and made fantastic memories together.

Watching my kids splash around in what, for most middle-class kids, would be a boring place (no slides, no kiddie pool, no diving board), I felt prouder of them than I can describe, and more convicted to be childlike. Keeping my expectations low. I thought I'd learned that here, but I often use cynicism disguised as low expectations, and that's just plain being negative. If I am truly approaching my life as a gift, I will keep my hands open and my eyes up and look for the gifts along the way...not expecting them, but celebrating them when they happen, even when they don't look exactly the way I'd planned they would.

And they happen every day.

No comments: