The Road Ahead :: A Few Thoughts On Expectations

Yesterday was our ninth anniversary. We have a five-year old boy, a two-year old girl and Erin is pregnant with twins. Wow. When I write it out like that it feels kind of surreal. Like it’s someone else’s life, not mine. It seems like someone should have it together more than I do before they allow you to have things like a wife or kids. We seem to grow up thinking that there is a distinct line between being a kid and a grown up and when you pass that line you’ll know it. You’ll feel capable and confident. You’ll have all of this knowledge about making marriages work, being good at your job and raising kids. But it turns out you get there through millions of tiny, baby steps, never recognizing how far you’ve come from where you once were. That is, until you hit one of these milestone, game-changer moments and you get a little, objective window on your life.  Here you are, in the throws of adulthood and responsibility. This is when you realize just how not-together most “grown-ups” really feel, including yourself. At least, that’s how it feels to me, right now… thinking about the transition that’s about to hit our family.

I think the best way to prepare for a major life transition is to think through your expectations. Ask yourself, “What do I expect my life will be like after this happens?” And then question whether these expectations are realistic and healthy. In this instance, if I head into this next phase of our family’s development expecting the same freedoms that I had in my college days than I would be very quickly and ferociously disappointed. If I go into it expecting that things will stay exactly the way they are now, then I would still be disappointed.

It seems to me that most of our struggles and disappointments in life are more related to our expectations than they are to our actual circumstances. For instance, if you expect marriage to be like a Disney movie, you will be greatly disappointed when normal life happens. And the longer you hold onto that expectation the more bitter, resentful and discouraged you will become. This will inevitably affect your marriage even more negatively and lead you to a breaking point. And it is at this point when we tend to think, “look at how terrible my circumstances are” when the same life circumstances with a different set of expectations could have given you a completely different outlook and an entirely different experience. This is true of marriages, children, jobs, churches, and pretty much everything else.

Anyway, here’s a few of my expectations for when the twins arrive:

  • I expect that the first 6 months will be like one, very long, very strange and very exhausting dream
  • I expect to fall asleep spontaneously while in the middle of a conversation or meeting (FYI – all of my friends and co-workers should expect this as well)
  • I expect that diapers will flow in and out of our house like water from Niagara Falls
  • I expect that Erin and I will, at times, harbor unjustified resentment towards each other because we both feel like we’re doing more work than the other
  • I expect that she will win that argument
  • I expect that Gavin and Kate will try to “help out” in ways that prove less than “help-ful”
  • I expect to have less “free-time” although that one is hard to imagine at this point
  • I expect that my life will change in ways that I never would have planned for but would not trade for anything
  • I expect that I will experience the love and support of my church family in a more tangible way than ever before
  • I expect that Gavin will enthusiastically step into his role as the protector, instructor and adult-to-child translator of two more little siblings
  • I expect that Kate will struggle with the “no longer the baby of the family” emotions but will be stronger because of it
  • I expect to feel like this stage in the life of our family is too long and too short all at the same time
  • I expect that my love and admiration for my wife will grow as I watch her become a fantastic mother of four children
  • I expect that I will be stretched beyond my capacity which will lead me to grow in my dependence on God, who (unlike me) does not grow weary and who’s patience (unlike mine) knows no boundaries
  • I expect that everything I need to be the Husband and Father that I need to be in order to lead the family that God has put in my care will be provided for me by grace and not because I earned or deserve it

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
– 2 Corinthians 9:8

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Feel free to leave a comment with additional insights and expectations from your own parenting journey. We will need all the help we can get.

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About rmashaw

I am a Christ-follower, husband, father, pastor, musician and artist who desries to open up the box of my life for others to rummage through and perhaps find something of use to them.
This entry was posted in Family, Parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Road Ahead :: A Few Thoughts On Expectations

  1. Eva says:

    I think your expectations are quite realistic except maybe the one about Kate. Being a middle child, I was resentful of not being the “baby” for quite awhile. (I think I finally got over it in my 30’s or 40’s.)
    Thanks for sharing your insights so eloquently and reminding us of ways we all need to grow in our relationship with God.

    • rmashaw says:

      Thanks Eva. If I’m honest, I think Kate’s reaction to the twins is the one that I am most anxious about. I really have no idea how she will handle the whole thing. We are really going to try to plan for time with her and Gavin to try to make sure they aren’t lost in the shuffle.

  2. yahwehxxi says:

    Given I am not the one in your and Erin’s shoes, thus don’t have any of the anxiety that comes with such a life change…I am so completely overjoyed for you both! God is blessing you with 2 more little people to shape and mold. You two are both wonderful parents and I expect that you will do awesome at this job (even while feeling like you have failed miserably on the rare occasion). Remember that every difficulty that you face, every speed bump, every mistake as a parent is an opportunity to show your kids how God loves us, even when we fail him; how we can mess up in life and there is grace and forgiveness to cover it. I think our kids seeing us mess up can be a good thing for them…helping them to not put such unattainable expectations on themselves. If they only saw perfection in their parents, they would not learn how to handle the mess ups themselves. You and Erin are amazing people and God chose you for such a tremendous blessing of twins and a larger family (in U.S. standards :)! Congratulations Reece and Erin!

    Oh, and having now a middle child that is a girl, and having the precious bond with the baby of the family (getting to enjoy him more in the younger stages because I didn’t have another infant to care for), make sure to carve out time for Kate (and Gavin). This might seem impossible, but as you expect your life and freedoms to change, this is one that is vital. We started dating our kids right around this time. Jake came along right about the same time (2 yrs old for Lili) and I definitely feel like with the older two I missed some of the fun of their younger lives because I had a baby to care for and devote much of my time to. I wish that I would not have missed so much of their young stages. That might mean sitting on the floor with them while holding and feeding an infant, when you totally have no energy to do so. You will thank yourself later.

    And on the flip side of that…don’t beat yourself up over anything…like you said…they will be stronger and become more independent for having to grow through this time.

    And any friends of Reece and Erin who live in town…remember to take Gavin & Kate for them from time to time so they can get some uninterrupted baby time and hopefully rest when babies nap! I definitely see Church at South Lake stepping up as Reece mentioned. If they tell you they are doing fine and don’t need it…do it anyway! 🙂

    • rmashaw says:

      Christy, thanks for all of the time and thought you put into those words. You brought up some really great points that we are already starting to discuss. We love you guys and pray for you often.

  3. Sandi & Allen says:

    We know without ONE DOUBT you will be everything your family needs! We love you and are blessed to call you our son (in-law).

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