First Day of School Picture Experience (or FDOSPE)

Hello everyone! I am glad you’re all here and I apologize for my absence last week. I was all ready to blog for you, even had a great idea for a topic (for once!) and then, well, didn’t. I’m going to try to write on that topic today instead but of course another week of experiences has passed, so we’ll see if it works as well now.

Last Thursday was the first day of school for the bigger foster kid, Monty. He started kindergarten. His school district actually started on Monday, but the spent the first three days having meetings with kindergarten parents instead of classes right away, so school started Thursday. (It’s actually a kind of funny story, those meetings. Apparently I don’t read carefully enough and didn’t realize I was supposed to bring the child WITH me to the meeting. Oh well!) Thursday morning we got up and got ready and we left. I was excited for his first day and I was really excited for the First Day of School Picture (yes, that is capitalized.) I don’t know if you all have seen it, but I figure you have. Everyone is really in to taking these super darling pics of their little ones on the first day of school. They look cute and prepared. The parents that are really really ready have made these darling signs with things like the child’s age, grade, school, teacher, future plans, favorite things, mother’s maiden name, social security number, first pet, street they live on, favorite Disney princess, best quote from Shakespeare….you get the idea. And as you can guess, I am not a super-prepared mom. I had a kid wearing clothes and a backpack. What more do you want of me, people? And of course, after not wanting to go to school and not wanting to get up, he definitely didn’t want his picture taken. So I snuck one in when he wasn’t expecting it (this is for Pinterest and Facebook! You must understand the importance!) And what I got was this:

First Day

My sister made the very astute observation that this is my life in a nutshell. And it is. Then she said that he looks like a cranky Alfalfa. And then she made me a meme explaining what I had gone through:


And there was fun and hilarity and joy on Facebook and we all lived happily ever after. But it got me thinking. Expectation versus reality. And it brought me to a realization about my life. And ultimately to a goal and a plan that I can hopefully follow.

We all have an idea of what we want in life. Some of us prefer the “idea of avoiding things we don’t want in our life” model, but ultimately it’s the same. We have plans, we have dreams, we do our thing. (And suddenly I feel like I’m singing “Seasons in the Sun” for some reason!) And that’s all well and good. And the First Day of School Picture Experience (FDOSPE.) shows that what we plan and what we get are not the same and that’s fine. But I want to take it a little deeper. I feel like this is going to get confusing, so bear with me please.

We all have expectations for our lives. These are not as obvious and we don’t plan them and we probably don’t think about them as much as our hopes and dreams. (I know I didn’t.) And I am afraid that when things don’t live up to these less-considered expectations, that’s when we can easily begin to feel negative about our lives. That’s when we start to feel like things are going wrong. Things are not being done well. We are not getting what we deserve. Or, in my case, we are not doing absolutely every tiny thing right and therefore we are failing. Let’s see if I can flesh this out a bit more.

I am (mostly) fine with not having fulfilled all my dreams. Dreams change, plans change, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up any more anyway. So it’s fine. But I am beginning to recognize the hidden expectations that I had, and the fact that those are not what I wanted is wearing on me. Big time. I guess I always assumed these things would be a given and they’re not. I thought I would have a fairly clean house. My kids would be clean(ish) and have combed hair. I would have well-behaved animals. I would magically be able to cook excellent meals and have no trouble finding the time to do all the things. My kids would be brilliant and funny, happy, well-behaved and tidy. And quiet. I would be happy all the time (or at least most of the time) and I would have happy friends and I would see these people sometimes. I would of course have an amazing husband who my family adored, a charming wedding, a healthy financial life. We would travel and do and make and be. And everything would be great. And even though sometimes things are hard, that would just make it better. Sounds great, right?

Yeah. Now here comes reality. I am not married, so the wedding was not charming and great (yet. I’m still holding out hope.) The house is not ours and not clean. Not even fairly. The kids are not mine (although I treat them like they are and if they become mine, that would be awesome and I will push for the best for them at all time) not clean, and quite often not happy. The big one does his own hair and the little one has had completely combed-out hair exactly once in the last couple of weeks when Auntie Jay did it. I don’t think anyone would call any of the animals particularly well-behaved (although Kougle doesn’t actively attack people and Thunder loves the kids.) The dog is loud and runs off every chance he gets. And at least one of the roosters attacks someone (generally it’s Harold attacking me, but it could be Trillium attacking virtually anyone) every day. I am capable of making pretty good spaghetti by myself, and that’s about it. And although the kids are often happy and always brilliant, they are not tidy. At all. Ever. I have wonderful friends. I hear from them on Facebook and text messages sometimes, so I know they are there. (My fault entirely! Don’t feel like I’m feeling abandoned!) The Carlos is amazing, though not my husband, and not universally adored by my family. Don’t talk to me about my financial life. Or travel. Or any of the various other things that my life is not.

Now I know that you have seen me get all down about things before. Fear not. This is not that post. (That one’s probably coming next week.) Here is where I’m trying to improve things. Although my life looks nothing like I expected, that does not make it wrong. And focusing on the things that are different than what I wanted takes focus away and doesn’t allow space to appreciate the way things ARE. It’s not fair to the life I have to compare it to the life I want all the time. This life is a good life and these things are good things (or if they’re not, they’re still my things) and paying too much attention to what’s missing distracts from what’s there. Does that make sense? The life I have doesn’t deserve to be punished for not being the life I expected. I will be happier the more I can look at how great what I have is. Not in a, “I don’t have to try anymore” kind of way. More in a “this is what we have and we can do better” kind of way. No, that isn’t very appreciative. How about an “I love this now. I can love it more” kind of way. Yeah. I think that’s more what I mean. I think.

I think I already said that this is a work in progress. I am not taking to this thought process well at all. I will have to keep thinking about it every day. But I really want to stop punishing the life I have now for not being the way I expected it to be. It is what it is. And it’s mine.


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