Tuesday, November 15, 2022

On low expectations

My house is currently filthy.

The living room is one solid layer of toys and dress-up clothes, the office is a sea of papers, markers, and crayons, and the dining room is sprinkled with dried granola. The baby, thankfully, went down for a nap (in the bedroom and not on me!), and my first instinct was to clean everything frantically. However, my husband and I are trying to teach our kids how to clean up after themselves, and I made it clear to my kids that I would clean with them, but not for them. To which they responded with a wave of a hand and a declaration that "I'm not going to clean." Particularly since I’m on day 2 of not having a voice, thanks to the cold that our family is dealing with, I have no motivation to instruct them on every single piece they need to pick up.

I decide that I will seize this moment of peace, of the baby happily sleeping and the three other children happily not-cleaning, and sit on the kitchen floor with a caramel apple hand pie, a cup of tea, and just be for a moment.

My Advent devotional starts, today, and I continue to 
love slowly slipping into the season with prayer and simplicity. 

With my husband’s recent return to the office full-time, I’ve decided that I’m not just going to lower expectations for myself. Instead, I’m going to do away with all expectations for the foreseeable future. If everyone is fed and getting sleep, then we’re succeeding. I may currently be wearing my pajamas for the second full day in a row, but even though we’re not that sick, I’m still using it as an excuse to give myself a complete break.

However, in spite of my resolve to have no expectations, I’m finding myself relatively productive. Somehow, that book review I’ve been needing to write for a couple weeks materialized and went off to the editor. Somehow, I pushed myself through a very short workout. Somehow, the kitchen is clean, and we have plenty of freshly-washed diapers.

We got a dusting of snow over the weekend. IN NOVEMBER. 
It was gorgeous, but also a bit shocking, since temperatures had
been in the eighties just a few days beforehand. 

Sure, there’s a whole list of things I haven’t done that I had really intended to accomplish by this point, but even I don’t get to those, it will be okay. I’ve been realizing that when I get stressed about being “behind,” I’m often only thinking about my self-imposed expectations, and not about reality. The reality is that God wants me to do His will in the present moment, and if that means alternating between wiping noses and breastfeeding a baby for much of a day, then so be it.

I’m finding that if I try to focus God more than my own timeline and agenda, somehow, the things that truly need to be done are still accomplished.


  1. So real, so beautiful! Love your open honesty and perspective.

  2. I'm in this place--messy house, clothes that need folded, kids who want mommy to play with them, etc.--so often! I almost always feel "behind," and it is very stressful. Thanks for the reminder that the expectations are often self-imposed and that just doing what God has for me in the moment is what is important.

    1. You are very welcome, Shannon! I'm glad this could be helpful. This is a lesson that I am pretty much constantly re-learning each day ;)