Monday, October 1, 2012

Balancing Motherhood and Expectations

Everyone has expectations of us, whether they be our husband or child; boss, parents, or in-laws. As mothers with busy lives, we often find ourselves with not only a long list of housework and children's needs to care for, but with an equally long list of other people's expectations.

Your mother comes to visit, and she expects your house to be clean. Your in-laws come, and they expect your house to be clean. You have friends over for dinner, and they expect your house to be clean. You get together with a new acquaintance so your kids can have a play date, and she leaves in a huff after your son pushes hers.

Yesterday we had a potluck at church, and everyone there expected me to be in the kitchen, smiling as I took food, cut the deserts and dishes that hadn't been cut, find spoons and spatulas for various dishes, and the list goes on.

And often times as mothers, we're supposed to live up to these expectations while the our kids our off playing quietly in a corner. Heaven forbid they get up and run around, or that they get bored and leave that perfect little corner, or that they get mad and start fighting with one another.

So how do we handle everybody else's expectations while still mothering our own children?

1. Focus on your priorities.
Priorities can open up a whole other discussion, but as a wife and mother, your first priority should be your husband, and the next should be your children. You only get one chance to raise your kids, and then they're off on their own, making decisions based on the principles they learned throughout their childhood. So next time someone calls needing you to make something for the bake off, ask yourself if you can feasibly do that task, or if your kids will suffer by being shoved off into some corner.

2. Be polite but firm.
When some well intentioned person (or even a vicious one) starts lecturing you about how your raising your children wrong, or your mother-in-law visits and goes immediately starts washing the fronts of your sticky cupboards, be polite and gently remind that person that keeping them happy isn't your primary goal in life.

3. Don't feel guilty.
Realize that some expectations simply won't get met, and don't feel guilty for putting your family first. You're accountable to God for how you handle your family, not for how many times you make the nosy neighbor across the street smile.

On Thursday I'll be sharing a fun story about how motherhood and expectations conflicted for me last week. But first I have some questions for you. What's the most unreasonable thing a person's ever expected of you? How do you handle other people's rigorous expectations?


  1. Let it roll off your back. You are unable to be all things to all people. You're doing your best at being a wife, mother, friend, church attendee, etc, and you are supplementing your income with a part-time job of writing romance for LIH. You're inspiring and entertaining your readers. If your in-laws (or others) complain about sticky fingerprints on refrigerators,they're being kinda small minded, IMO.

    1. Such sweet advice, Cathy! If only we could always remind ourselves that the others are in the wrong more than we are!

  2. ha ha, if my m-i-l came over and started washing my cabinets, I'd hand her more rags and ask her to do my bathroom too. :)

    1. See, this is when I feel like a failure because obviously I didn't do a good enough job cleaning my house before she came, and she probably thinks I'm a worthless loser!

    2. Well, um, I KNOW I didn't clean good enough for well probably anybody without kids, so if they can't stand it and have to clean it, so be it. Actually, both my mothers clean when they come over, they don't say anything to me, they just start cleaning up and folding my laundry anytime they're not busy with playing with the kids, they almost always do my dishes and I clean my house more than normal when I know they're coming, but I'm pretty certain they both are only thinking "I'm helping because she's got way too much to do and we're adding to it."

      Maybe, you're reading too much into it. OR perhaps that is what she thinks, but since nothing's going to change, just pretend she's doing it because she knows how hard it is with little kids and she'd wished someone would have come and cleaned her house for her when she had small ones.

      You know, I'm usually a total pessimist on most things concerning me, but I always like to come up with good reasons for everyone's choices. My husband says "Stupid driver, go back to driver's ed." I'm always, "Well, maybe they just dropped coffee in their lap or their child's toy just rolled under the accelerator and they're trying to get it out" I get a lot less miffed at people if I make a good excuse for them. :)

    3. I think your "good reason" philosophy is rather sweet. Still, I can't help but feel like I'm some sort of failure as a mother when I have guest over to my house and all they want to do is clean for me. Like how I already cleaned wasn't good enough.

      It makes me never want to have people over, and we've got a family coming in a couple weeks. Gulp.