Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Expectations get me into trouble.

 I mean it is not their fault. No, full blame rests on me. I seem to proceed through life with a trunk filled with unrealistic ones. Really, a trunk full.

So, months ago, when we began to plan a medical trip to Dallas, Texas to see a hand specialist for Benjamin, I carefully began piling the expectations into every suitcase I could find.

They started with the appointment itself. I didn't hope for much -- just a brilliant surgeon who would declare there was no need for surgery but that there was a wonderful non-surgical cure of the wrist deformity plaguing my dear Benjamin. A magic pill, perhaps? Really, not asking much.

But brilliant surgeon had no such cure. She didn't have a surgery she could offer either. Rather, we left feeling a bit bereft. Desperately wanting something to help and leaving completely empty-handed.

My Benjamin.

The next case I packed was full of studious learning expectations for my home schooled crew. I mean, let's squeeze the most out of this trip to Texas -- let's even drive from Dallas to Houston to fit in one more educational opportunity! Oh, my suitcase filled with expected-learning-opportunities could hardly close!

But in order to do this, we needed to rent an accessible van that could meet us at the Dallas airport and then be picked up at the Houston airport. I called and called and called. And, I finally found a dealer willing to do that. When she said she had a full-size van that she thought would fit our needs, I jumped at the chance. (Sometimes, mini-vans are hard pressed to hold all our kids and all our luggage, wheelchairs, crutches, etc.) When she said it was her "newest van", I sighed with relief. No clunker this time.

And so, I was filled with some serious expectations about the way we would travel. And um, well, space was not a problem. Clearly, when she said full-size van, she meant full-sized-to-carry-a-church-group-around-town....cause the thing was enormous! And when she said "newest", she clearly meant "new-to-me" cause it was built in 2000 and had more than 165,000 miles on it! And the lift for my boy....well, if you held your teeth right, flipped all ten switches and grunted, it worked and got him in and out of that van almost every time. Smile.

As for the educational opportunities -- we were moved by the Sixth Floor Museum at the Book Depository. We learned so much about that fateful day, about President J.F. Kennedy and about history. The only ding of my expectations was the no photography rule. I despise no photography rules.

The Book Depository (I could take pictures outside!)

Dad lecturing on the location of President Kennedy's car and the Grassy Knoll.

Marking the devastating spot where the bullet changed history.

In Houston, we had another educational moment. Cate has been studying Ancient Civilizations this year and we were both (all) intrigued as she studied Howard Carter and his uncovering of the tomb of King Tut. The drive from Dallas to Houston was so worth getting to see this exhibit in person -- even though again, there was a no photo rule. Ugh.

Ready for our tour!

 One suitcase I did not fill was the case for friendly reunions. Oh, it is not that I didn't WANT reunions, I just knew it was Easter weekend and everyone would be super busy. I also am a terrible planner and didn't really know how our schedule would play out. But maybe the key to expectations is to pack light because by the end of our trip, this suitcase was overflowing!

We were able to have dinner with a friend and her children as soon as we arrived. Maggie and I (OK, her real name is Mary Alice) have been friends for longer than I think either of us cares to count. Our oldest girls have gotten to know each other through Facebook and so we were delighted to spend time face-to-face! The visit was far too brief -- but so much fun (and there was sweet tea involved, so right there you know it exceeded expectations!).

And my failure to plan did not get in dear friend Julia's way at all. She took the planning role, made the phone calls and arranged the sweetest reunion with some of our closest friends from the year we lived in Dallas.

Benjamin, Mason, and Claire with Johnny and Lauren -- who adopted us right away that year and made us feel like Texas was home.

Shelly, Julia and Leigh Anne -- I couldn't have been happier to see these ladies if I had packed the expectations high!

And just to ensure that our heats were filled-to-bursting, we had a mini-family reunion once we reached Houston! Seeing my kids, with one of my dearest cousin's children was an absolute blessing!

Rose Anna's four and my four...can you tell we have some little peas in a pod??

You might want to quit reading now. Because, my friends, this next suitcase chock-full of expectations is so silly that I fear you will judge me harshly for even typing about it. Oh goodness.

Would you believe I packed an entire trunk of expectations around the Bluebonnets of Texas? An entire trunk.

I have dissected the whys and wherefores and honestly, I know that half my expectations were around memory-making with a sweet friend. I have watched her Bluebonnet jaunts historically and desperately wanted to make those memories too. But alas, remember it was Easter weekend, and dear friend could not join us.

I was not even sure where we would find Bluebonnets. My Internet searches had not been too productive. And remember I am not a planner.

Darling hubby was a saint. Really. Oh he is not perfect, but THIS day, he was reading my heart and I think he sensed a desperation there. I needed Bluebonnets.

We could see them as we drove south to Houston but off in the distance. Or up a hill with no clear road. I was certain I would have to settle for seeing them and leave it at that. But then, Hubby took an exit, turned down a country road and found a field blooming beautifully. We got out. We took pictures. We met a lovely gentleman who invited us to his yard for a better view of the field.

Unfortunately, the lift and the country road did not agree. My dear Benjamin could not join us for what I wanted to be a family photo session. And even as I snapped photos of Cate, I realized, we were treading carefully, gently walking in ways that would not trample the beauty. My Benjamin can not tread lightly. He could not have made it into the field even without the old-beat-up-van. Stupid expectation of family photos.

And yet, I love my Bluebonnet pictures of the girls. And I'm ever thankful for having this memory with my crew. (Would you believe we did not see another single Bluebonnet after this stop? Not even one!)

Expectations really do get me in trouble. But making the most out of each adventure? Finding the joy even when the desired expectation isn't met? Well, that's the thing, right? Learning to be content. Finding the joy and packing our suitcases smack full of THAT! Oh, that is where the blessing is!


Lauren said...

Oh, Carol - I LOVE the bluebonnet photos, too!!! What an emotional journey with extreme highs and lows! And then the word at the end: CONTENTMENT. (where have I heard that recently?) You are a teacher-extraodinaire, my friend. I miss road trip field trips! You make the sweetest lemonade.
Love, Lauren

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

I enjoy so visiting here and catching up with you and your family. Comments don't often come to mind, we've grown so far apart, but the sweet memory of your forever friendship is always a glow around my heart. Love you guys.