My Expectations Failed Me

I spent days calculating the workings of making a dream day occur. Our city has held a local Easter event for years, but for some reason or another, we have never been able to attend. When I heard that my husband couldn’t come for support, I immediately called in for reinforcements.

I orchestrated the perfect “team” to make it a dream-like, fun-filled day! Inside I was giddy, anticipating all the smiles and giggles I would be rewarded with for my efforts. Easter bunny pics and candy filled eggs were all within reach. Despite Charlie’s Autism, I thought we could make this day happen, but I was wrong.

We arrived at the event right before it started, but it was already filled to the brim with families anxiously waiting for train rides, face paintings, and pictures with a perfectly dressed Easter bunny. With the overflow of people and extended lines, a tiny piece of my excitement fell to the ground. It was almost paralyzing. I was at a cross-road with no decision in sight. Should we cut our losses and go, or buy tickets and try to make this the day I had dreamed of?

After a few minutes of internal debate, I decided to buy tickets. After just a few minutes of waiting, Charlie wasn’t having it. He insisted that he didn’t want to ride the train that I knew he would love. He began to escape through our hands along with the idea of this perfect spring day. After several escape attempts and a botched Easter egg grab, I decided to cut our losses, even though we had already purchased wrist bands and tickets.

All the prepping, along with my flawlessly devised plan and my dream team of family members to help, fell to the wayside. My brother and his girlfriend escorted the older boys to play at the park while I found someone to give our unused tickets and wristbands to. As I pushed the baby in the stroller over the bumpy, green grass, my shoulders deflated in defeat.

I could feel the tears well up. Why was I so disappointed? I should be accustomed to this by now. After all, it wasn’t a total loss. I was successful in knowing Charlie’s limits and breaking free from my plans before it was too late, before he fell into the abyss of Autism’s oh too familiar meltdown. At this very moment though, I didn’t see the success or feel successful.

I stumbled upon a kind looking woman who was attending the ticket booth, and I began to explain our situation and completely overshare my expectations and not knowing why I even thought this would work. I unloaded for about a minute, and before I knew it, tears were streaming down my warm cheeks. She was understanding and behind the booth refunded us for all the tickets and wristbands.

As I walked away, I quickly slid my sunglasses over my freckled nose to cover my tear filled eyes. I gained my composure and decided to make it a great day! We went to a familiar park, walked on a new, fun trail, and ate out at a local restaurant…all huge successes in the book of Autism.

 I’m always preaching to set your expectations low and your hopes high, but in this moment, I forgot my own advice. I got caught up in making this the best day for my kids, a day I dreamed up, not really taking into account life’s realities. I clouded our every day obstacles with my own ideals, dismissing the fact that its okay for plans to fall apart. There should always be a Plan B or an “escape plan” as I call it, but today, I wanted so badly for the bunny event to go well.

 I set myself up for failure with grandiose expectations, so when it began to rip at the seams, I began to unravel. Luckily, I caught myself before I slipped too far into self-pity. I moved past my clouded judgment and unrealistic expectations as we escaped to a familiar park. It became a great day, but it would have been much better if I simply left my expectations at home and started with high hopes instead.

This will not be our last visit to an event like this. Next time, I will come fully prepared for anything, because I know that with much perseverance, these outings will get easier and more manageable for Charlie. I won’t give up on my dream family day at the bunny event. It will come. It may not look like the day I envisioned, but it will be glorious nonetheless. I will keep trying, because eventually, I will stumble upon a win! I hope you do the same!

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