Really, they are not so great. I've heard expectations called "premeditated resentments," and I tend to agree. I am a planner, which is not—in and of itself—a bad thing. When I become overly attached to my plans being executed perfectly, however, it does become a bad thing.
This summer, I really outdid myself in the intricacy of my planning which included traveling to North Carolina with my son and two friends, taking them all to Duke lacrosse camp, spending his birthday at our house in the mountains with other friends, then flying to the British Virgin Islands where my son would do a three-week scuba and sailing camp while I stayed in a house there. My daughter would come visit halfway through my time on the island and then we would all fly back to the mountains and meet my husband to celebrate my daughter's birthday. That is an awesome plan, no?
As I sit here in the waning days of summer, looking back, I can laugh at all the ways my plans did not go as expected. When things were going awry it was harder to laugh. But this is what I discovered—the parts that didn't go as planned were not bad. They were just different than the summer I'd cooked up in my mind.
My son got a concussion the night before lacrosse camp and had to miss the whole thing. We had to leave the mountains and bring him home to Houston to recuperate. BUT my kids got to spend a whole bunch of quality time together, playing tennis, watching copious amounts of YouTube and building the world's biggest fort. I got to reconnect with my husband who I often go weeks at a time without seeing during the summer. I got to hang out with my daughter who was away in school in NYC last year. And we got to spend some time with friends at their Galveston house. Ultimately, my son recovered and the change of plans was not as catastrophic as my mind originally told me it was.
Note: Feelings are not facts.
When my daughter joined me in Tortola for what I'd imagined would be blissful days of mother-daughter bonding in paradise, she immediately hated the place. Not just mildly. She was hot (there was no air conditioning) and generally miserable. I struggled with her misery. Should I insist she stay? Should I let her go home early? I realized I was taking her dislike of the place personally. It was not a personal affront to me that she didn't like the place that I adored. She flew home after a couple of days, and we were both happy.
Note: People (even those closest to me) have different tastes than I do, and that's ok!
As I write about the things that didn't go as planned, I am reminded of how many things did work out beautifully. The house I found on Air B&B was just right for me—simple, walking distance to the beach, killer views from the patio and paid for entirely with my AmEx points. There were things I didn't know about like the roosters crowing at 5:30 every morning; the steep incline of the hill where my house was situated; and the lack of garbage service which required carrying my trash down said steep hill to the nearest dumpster. I am not just being a Pollyanna when I say that those things made the trip more charming. They made it real for me. I got to be a part of the community for a month, not just a pampered tourist sipping pina coladas (though I did sip a few!).
Note: When I am tallying what goes wrong, I must also tally what goes right.
I'm enjoying a bit of quiet mountain time before the back-to-school fall rat race descends. The rest of my family veered off plan again and headed back to Houston, but by this point in the summer mayhem, I am not phased. I stayed the course with no resentment. I remembered that we can love and support each other without being on the same schedule.
I hope your summer adventures—planned and unplanned—brought you want you needed this season. I'm heading into fall holding my expectations very loosely!