Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lowering Expectations

I know, strange title. But let me give you a little bit of background, and then I'll explain. Promise.

I had grandparents that were very involved in our lives. Even the ones in Utah. They would come to basketball games, baptisms, baby blessings, band competitions, little league games, swim meets, graduations, everything. And not just those things. They would come over sometimes for no reason. My Utah grandparents would show up unannounced at our house many times, usually bearing a big gift, and it was always something super useful like an awesome new vacuum or a huge freezer. They knew what was going on in our lives. And not just my grandparents. My aunts and uncles, mostly on my dads side, were there with my grandparents at meets, games and things like that. And we were there for my cousins. This is what I am accustomed to. And my parents follow right along. Since we live 3,000 miles from them, they will call and ask to talk to the kids. They are planning on coming to visit soon. Last year, they came and watched my kids while I went to Girls Camp. In my family (even on my moms side) we don't wait to be invited to someones house. If we want to go and visit them, we give them a call to make sure they are home and that we can come. Or if we want to come and visit for a few days, we make the phone call.

So, that is what I am used to. What I expect. And when I married Matt, I think I just assumed his family would be somewhere around the same. Boy was I wrong.......

Seven years later, I am still getting irritated. Because I expect them to make an effort. To not only keep up with us, but to want to get to know my kids. To talk to them, to want to try and come visit to spend time with them. And unfortunately, that is way off.

And it just kills me. Seriously. What are these peoples problems? Why don't they make any effort? To me, Love is a verb. You have to do things if you love someone. I guess for my MIL sending a card with a check for their birthdays says I love you. Never mind she never calls and talks to them. Or makes any plans to come and visit us. And neither does his dad. Which makes me sad. (his dad only calls when he wants to talk about his migraines with Matt)

So, back to lowering expectations. So, I have been having the expectation that Matts parents will do things to get to know my kids, to make efforts. And the reality is that they won't. They won't call us weekly or even monthly. They won't save up their money to come and visit us. They just won't. His mom wouldn't even drive an hour and a half to go and see her grand daughters soccer games. I don't think she saw maybe more than one or two. I have to suggest them coming to my parents house, because otherwise they will just sit at their houses waiting for me to drive to them. After I have already driven 1400 miles just to get that close. This is just the way they are. And I can't change it. So, now I just have to accept it. They will never change. My kids won't know them very well. (and I've discussed this with Matt and he isn't bothered by the fact his parents don't make much of an effort. he assumes that they will when the kids get older. I don't agree......) I have lowered my expectations. And it's going to take some getting used to. But I can do it. And in the end, I won't be so frustrated, so angry and so irritated. And I could sure use less of those things in my life.


LCM said...

Oh I so feel your pain, only it's my own parents that are doing this, my husband doesn't even have any parents. I am so sad for my girls that they don't really get to know the joys of grandparents. I looked up my post that I wrote

My parents ditched us when Fiona was diagnosed with sad is that? I agree, you really have to lower your expectations and not expect anything. Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised, of course that's just my optimism coming through.

Jen said...

I come from a different type of family culture, and my DH's family is like yours. It comes across to me as overbearing. Funny how with a different frame of reference our expectations are so different.


Steve-o said...

I talk to my in-laws once every other year--when I see them in person. They make zero effort, and I make zero effort. This is an outgrowth of the relationship we had before my wife and I got married. Becca and I were together for almost two years before we got married, and even though I was in their home several times a week, they made zero effort to get to know me then, either. Now that I live thousands of miles away, I don't feel like this is a bad thing.

I don't know about Matt's family, but Becca's family is full of drama. And because we live far away, we avoid most of that drama. And because no one in her family ever talks to me, I only hear about it if Becca chooses to tell me about it. I think I much prefer it that way, because taking the "good" from them would also mean that I'd have to take a lot of the "bad"--requests for loans that would never be repaid, emotional abuse from her father (usually in the form of blame for all his problems), and the occasional family member moving into my home because they couldn't manage their finances properly.

Yes, I think I'll take the "zero effort" relationship I've got.

J.Ammon said...

I like forcing my expectations on people to the point of making them uncomfortable. It's not so much that they finally live up to what I expect and more of the joy and satisfaction of having broken them to my will.

Also, I like to make my expectations ridiculously high.

Nicole said...

Wow, I can see why your in-laws have trouble meeting your expectations. What great grandparents you had! What fun memories you must have because of that.

Expectations are a tricky thing. But at this point you are smart to realize that your in-laws are not that kind of grandparents. And that's okay. One of the things I continue to learn as I get older is that I can't base my happiness on other people's actions. I have to just be happy in my own little world -- anything that comes from "outside" is just a bonus (or a minor irritant.) I don't succeed at that all the time, but more and more I can do it. It's very freeing.

Shelly! said...

Look at all the support.

Wish J.Ammon's response was workable in every situation :)

As I've said before - I'm 100% behind you making a change to let things go. Let's you and I both try to leave "good enough" alone.

(And rock on - my word verification is heckya - that's a sign!)

Shelly! said...

Oh - and one thing that stood out in reading the comments is that we might be born into a family - but in the end we get to choose who our real family is. Just because biologicals don't do the job well doesn't mean we won't find people who love us in a way that fills that void.