I think my entire journey into motherhood has been a battle of expectations. There is nothing that triggers my dissatisfaction quite like defeated expectations, and I found myself frozen like a deer in headlights again this year when it came to resolutions. Somehow, while my husband was in law school, and we had two small children, I managed to create and hold on to realistic expectations in order to survive. But now, I want so much more. Sigh.
Knowing I could announce to the world or even compose in my head a lovely list of resolutions that would be dashed by Candlemas (or let's face it, by Epiphany), did not sound appealing. Why bother? As Mark Twain said...
Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time.
How does one avoid this quandary? Resolutions are good things. Our call to holiness demands that we constantly seek growth. I definitely prefer Chesterton on this topic...
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.
So, how have I resolved this dilemma? (pun intended) First of all, no resolution is a good resolution unless the change we want is also what God wants. I realize that I must focus my thoughts more constantly on God. That is my first resolution, and I will remind myself to let go of whatever is keeping me from loving God and those around me. I will refuse to cling to unrealistic expectations.
One way I hope to do that, thanks to an excellent Fr. Barron video, which I discovered fortuitously on an old post of Lauren's, is take as my motto for the year:
Orbis non SufficitThis is my "word" for the year if you want to call it that. "The world is not enough." I think this will be a wonderful way to remind myself daily that the things of Heaven are so much more important than any expectation I might have for myself or others.
My new motto also goes along nicely with the other part of my solution: I am in the process of making a list of every little thing I would like to accomplish this year, knowing full well I will not be able to do it all. This will be a new way of coping with my fixation on expectations. Instead of setting my expectations low in order to survive, I am envisioning the ideal and planning to prayerfully consider my daily decisions on a daily basis. Plus, since the motto came from James Bond, I am excited about the inspiration of a superhero! (Did you know the Bond family was probably Catholic?)
Thanks to Mystie's reminder that a brain dump is therapeutic, I feel so good about this year's resolution list, even as it approaches three pages. You see, none of us know how much time we have left in this world, but if I can visualize the end, perhaps I can cooperate with the growth that God wants for me and avoid making myself into the deity. That's what we do, you know, when we try to be perfect without consulting the Lord. It becomes all about my health, my virtue, my perfection, not God's.
EDITED TO ADD: Let me be clear. I have absolutely no intention of completing everything on my huge list of personal goals. In fact, I do not even believe I will get close to half of them crossed off, but a dear friend just sent me Brandy's Five Steps to Making New Year's Resolutions, to which I want to shout "Yes! This!" This year I am giving myself permission to dream and attempting to learn to be gentle with myself while still challenging myself to great heights. Perhaps I can get out of last year's rut of: since I simply cannot accomplish everything I want to accomplish today, I will sit here and waste time doing not much of anything.
I am curious. Have you made New Year's Resolutions? Are they realistic? Do you think my experiment will work? I will try to let you know at the end of the year. (Oh, and is anybody interested in seeing my insane list?)
Bless Your Mother's Heart!