Friday, June 3, 2011

Not-so-great expectations

Earlier this week, after the kid was sleeping, the husband and I sat down to chat about what sort of house we'd like to find. We are sort of looking, now that we've been pre-approved for the loan, but we aren't finding our dream or anything that even resembles it. And we don't have a lot of time to take advantage of the window of opportunity that summer permits.

Just like any house hunters, we have a little list in our heads of all the must-haves, followed closely by the nice-to-haves. What seems to occur, though, is that as I look at what's really, truly available on the market and in our price range, I start to adjust my happy little list. My husband, however, does not.

I suppose it could be a matter of faith. If we trust God to deliver what we need, then the right house will either pop up or it won't. If we're meant to move, then the place will be in the right location, the right distance from town, the right school. I shouldn't need to fret about any of it. And honestly, I'm not fretting. I like where we live. If I didn't dislike close neighbors, yappy dogs, loud vehicles, and bus traffic, and if I didn't still believe that our society is doomed to collapse pretty darned soon, then I'd just sit tight here and be thankful for what we have. I really am thankful; it's a great place.

My actual conundrum is the fact that I am a giver-upper. I don't cling to ideals. I don't cling to anything. I am as changeable as a June weather system. In the midst of our lively conversation (translation: rather hostile volley of words), it became clear to me that my husband thinks I am a bit of a flibbertegibbet. That I hurry through things, longing more to finish and accomplish the task than to do it well.

The reason that hurt was because he's right. And he is the exact opposite, painstakingly researching, studying, sketching, idealizing (IMHO, of course) before even approaching the road to be taken. Which is why he's better at doing home projects, why he's superior at remodels, why the garden that he built last year looks so nice.

The problem is that other than that garden, I'm usually the driving force behind major changes in our lives. And remember, the garden came to be when I went back to work for that awful year of dad-stays-at-home-with-the-boy. It was a matter of survival, and we got through it, but by no means was I the only one going crazy. I think the garden helped my spouse to make it through the year.

I stand firm that we may not have gotten married yet, let alone purchased any homes, if I hadn't been my flibbertegibbet self and gotten the silly notion in my head about the importance of emotional commitment and then property ownership. We may not even have a child yet. Well, we might have gotten around to that, since I am married to a man. 'Nuf said.

I don't mean to expose too much insider information here; that's not what this blog is supposed to be about. I guess I am just wondering where other people stand on ideals and must-haves. Is the rest of the world as movable and wishy-washy as I am, because it's necessary to bend your own rules sometimes? Is it right to expect to find exactly the right thing? Does stepping away a little bit mean that you're giving up? That you don't have enough faith in God to deliver? Or is it just a healthy realization that adults can't wear rose-colored glasses and still reach goals?

I was reading another blog, written by a woman who'd lost a child suddenly, and she commented that some of the best advice she received was simply that as time goes by, you expect less. You don't expect to ever feel the same way that you did when your child was living. You don't expect, anymore, to see her sweet face in the morning. You don't expect others to understand your suffering. You lower your expectations. And I fear that perhaps, on a much more shallow level, that's what I've begun to do with my life.

Things don't go as you'd hoped with your home, your family, the economy, and you adjust your expectations. Jobs are lost, and once again you re-set your list of what you'd been ready to experience. Relationships disappoint, people let you down, you don't set the world on fire by 30... and all along, you are constantly rewriting that list in your mind.

Did I just describe most people? Or only myself? How firmly should we stick to that list we made? Is saving considerable money worth giving up on a lot of what you'd hoped to find? And would anyone ever do anything if they waited for the list to be completely fulfilled?

Too many questions, I know. But I welcome your feedback.

-Pessimist Mel


Facie said...

I have lowered my expectations in people. If I expect people to do some of the things I do (the good things only!), I often end up disappointed. And Lord knows I have had to change my view of money thanks to the stupid economy and job loss.

I am still a bit of an idealist, however, when it comes to some things. Like I want some improvement at my kid's school, which is why I put together, carried out, and have spent the past two weeks tallying many, many surveys. Even though some parents said right on the survey that they don't think anything will change, I do. I have to have hope. Because I still try to believe the best in people. That we should all want to be better. That is also why I have not thrown in the towel in my community and why I instead pick up litter, email the mayor, attend crime watch meetings, etc.

As for personal goals, I still have no clue what it is I want to do. At least I am consistent there.

Mel said...

Well, I guess I'm not alone, then. And a bit of idealism is probably necessary if people ever want to effect change in any arena. Best wishes to you in getting things moving at the kiddo's school. At least you are trying! Sometimes people just need a leader, too--someone to be the visible voice for many who are too tired, too busy, or too lazy to take charge themselves.

chris h. said...

You could be writing about Mike and me. We have had similar "discussions" recently to the tune of "You give up whenever something gets too hard.(And you think everything is too hard.)" That's his side. My side: "You spend too much time on stuff that doesn't matter, which either creates new problems or means nothing ever gets done." I think we are both right: He's a perfectionist; I'm a 90%ist. We care about different things, so I wonder, "How can that possibly matter to him?" And he wonders, "Why don't you care about this?" I worry about how long something takes and whether the end result will be worth it. He worries about doing things "the right way" no matter how long it takes or whether anyone else would even be able to tell the difference. I'm all about getting to the results; he's all about working through the process.

As far as house-hunting goes -- I think you have a list of non-negotiable must-haves and a list of nice-to-haves that you can flex on. Come to think of it -- I think the same goes for life in general. I don't envision just one perfect house or just one perfect life -- I can be happy in a lot of different scenarios, as long as the non-negotiables are there.

Mel said...

omigosh, Chris--this cracked me up:

"You (hus) spend too much time on stuff that doesn't matter, which either creates new problems or means nothing ever gets done."

amen. I am not alone for certain. are our husbands somehow related? secret brothers? and your last paragraph makes a good point--lots of good scenarios around the non-negotiables.