Monday, August 1, 2011

Adjusting Reality

I have two friends with daughters getting married. Hearing about their preparations, the inevitable problems that arise and having just had my 15th wedding anniversary, it has caused me to think back to my wedding.

With weddings, and with life, I think there is a gap between expectations and reality. The gap is called experience. We all have certain expectations, say about our wedding, that we have accumulated over the years. From other weddings, movies, books, bridal magazines. We all want the Princess Diana fairytale wedding, but more than likely end up with a Meet The Parents experience. Because Meet The Parents, or Father of the Bride, even though a bit over the top, are the reality of weddings. Something is bound to go wrong, tensions are running high, plans don't work out, miscommunications happen, something gets lost, overlooked, ripped, stepped on, dirty, whatever. Reality is something will happen that will cause the bride to stress out.

Real life is the same way. What our perception of what life is supposed to be and what it really is are two different things.

Motherhood is a great example of that. The idea of having a baby and actually having that baby were two totally different things to me. It was not like babysitting, something that I loved to do when I was a teenager. I came home from the hospital and thought, "Now what do I do?" My expectations about what kind of parent I was going to be has been somewhat obliterated as more kids came along, each with their own personality. The disciplinarian I thought I would be has slowly eroded, being worn down by persistent kids.

Taking care of the house, another completely different reality. Most houses, with kids, do not look like a page out of House Beautiful, Better Homes & Gardens, or Martha Stewart Living. Even with kids in the photos of those glossy pages, I've decided that kids don't really live in those houses. My house is lived in. Very lived in. Reality is even if I clean and organize my house to look like a page out of one of those magazines, it doesn't stay that way. That is not a realistic expectation for me. I can't keep it up. I've had to adjust my reality that my house is more in a "lived-in" look than a model home look.

In life, at church, at work, wherever, I think it's easy to look around and see someone else that seems to have it better than me, or more together than me, or is more spiritual than me. But appearances and perceptions are not reality. There's always the trade off. Or the counter reality. Someone may be wealthy, but not healthy. Someone may be successful job-wise, but never has enough time to spend with the family. Or maybe someone is beautiful, but doesn't have any self esteem. I don't know of anyone who truly has it all.

But. By adjusting reality, realizing our expectations and perceptions may not be how things truly are, I think we can have peace. I can make peace with the fact that I will never be a Martha Stewart. I really don't want to be, anyway. My house is not going to look like a page out of a home magazine. Experience has taught me that is definitely not my reality.

I think if we adjust our reality to what is realistic for each of us individually, there is so much more happiness to be had than holding ourselves up to unrealistic, perceived expectations.

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