Redefining expectations...

by Christina

I have fond memories of making frosted sugar cookies with my mom each year at Christmas. Now, I'm pretty sure my recollection of this annual activity is much more idyllic than what actually took place. Yet somewhere along the way these cookies became an expectation, a symbol of being a good mother. I know it sounds silly but I wholeheartedly believed that to be a good mother I needed to make frosted sugar cookies with and/or for my children each year at Christmas.

Many years ago now as we approached the holiday season I knew one of my tasks was to make the cookies. It was a stressful time; pre-tenure, a 4-year old and a 4-month old, a small house with the constant worry the baby would wake up due to noise, the post-stress of 911, and a shortage of the small pox vaccine. I was very concerned about whether or not my baby could be vaccinated. The world seemed to be caving in... but there were cookies to be made.

I remember the day, where I was standing in the house when I realized something had to go. Being a "rational" person I knew the need to make cookies was an unreasonable expectation so I let it go. Now, I know it all probably sounds really petty to think about cookies and being a good mom but that doesn't mean the feeling wasn't real.

Each year as the holidays come and go I think about my failed expectation consoling myself that it doesn't really matter. It's just cookies, right? But here's the thing, the expectation could also be considered a "goal." Sometimes we set goals that are too lofty or unrealistic. Rarely are goals set in stone, they can be revised.

It took years to revise my cookie goal. My daughter has been asking me to make cookies for weeks but each time I've put her off knowing that I just can't add it to the pre-holiday to-do list.

With the holidays behind us, last week-end my daughter, her friend and I made cookies. We called them "winter wonderland" cookies with trees, snowballs, snowflakes and stars. It was our very own little winter forest. We laughed, they did it their way, we frosted and sprinkled, and ate way too many cookies. It was a good day.

So, the moral of my story really has nothing to do with making cookies but everything to do with setting realistic expectations (aka goals). It's important to establish goals but if they aren't attainable it's no reason to throw in the towel...just adjust and move forward.

Do you have any goals that need revising? Please feel free to share.