Perhaps the only upside of my husband's occasional business travel is the shift in my morning routine. Instead of an alarm clock informing me it is 5:00am (already?!?) and time to prepare for my first client of the day, I awake to the pitter patter of little footsteps, a giant smile on a tiny face, and the best hug of the day.
So when my husband headed to New York yesterday, I was looking forward to some extra morning time with my favorite girl. But instead of the leisurely awakening I anticipated, I instead heard an urgent call from her room, "Mama, I'm going to be sick." I rushed down the hall and waited with her for what (fortunately) turned out to be a false alarm. I returned to bed, only to have the scenario repeat itself 20 minutes later. The third time I heard the call, I sighed. "Sweetheart, you aren't sick. Let's both get some sleep, and in the morning you can..." But before I finished the thought, she did, indeed, become sick...
Not only was my vision of a perfect morning spoiled, I was hit by a wave of guilt. If only I had responded to what was really happening rather than what I wanted to see, I could have provided comfort. Instead I now have a sick kiddo AND a big mess.
It happens to all of us - parents and non-parents alike. We have in our minds a certain vision of how things will unfold, and when circumstances don't conform, we try to convince ourselves we were right - even when the evidence suggests otherwise. And when confronted by reality, we often suffer the loss of more than our best laid plans...
There is no harm in planning and looking forward with anticipation, but when we allow ourselves to become attached to that outcome, we set ourselves up for disappointment - or worse.
Next time life begins to unfold differently than you planned, can you pause and be present with what is happening? Can you let go of your attachment to expectation and instead respond to what lies before you?