The necessity of low expectations

Posted by jdg | Monday, May 19, 2008 | ,

When we first moved to this terrible, beautiful city, we realized that among those willing to stick it out here, there were two major camps: the misanthropes who wallow in every bit of proof that the city is failing, and the optimists with a perpetually rosy outlook on its vast, largely-untapped potential. We quickly decided that the best course of action was to simply accept this city just as it is, and not to get our hopes up too much. Don't expect the police to show up when you call 911, and when they do, welcome them as heroes. When you hear news about new development, don't expect it to actually happen. Don't expect your municipal politicians to actually be smart liars. If you can learn to love it for what it is, and not get too wrapped up in hope for what it could be, you will find yourself much happier here.

This is the beginning of my third week at home taking care of two kids by myself. I have extended this theory of low expectations to my parenting, and so far that seems to be working out just fine. I have learned to accept that it's just going to be how it is, and I try not to get my hopes up. I don't expect to get anything done for myself over the course of any day. There is no time on the computer, no time during the day to write. If I can jot down a few thoughts in a notebook here and there, I'm lucky. I don't expect to keep the house up as much as I used to; any vacuuming or straightening up while the baby is in the sling becomes a real accomplishment. I tell myself not to feel bad at night, after the kids are finally asleep, when I suddenly have all the time in the world to get things done for myself, but all I want to do is curl up with my wife and fall asleep. I won't feel bad about hanging out in the shade all day. Or buying the older kid an ice cream cone once in awhile to keep her quiet.

I'll try not to stare at those parents with only one kid and remember all the time I used to be able to sneak in for myself. I'll try to forget about all the things I still want to get done for myself during the day. Because I think that's the only way I'm going to make it through this.