Jean Croker Petke

When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned to keep my expectations low. Not that I don’t have plans and thoughts, but most expectations I push aside. It prevents disappointments, removes guesswork about my agenda, and lets me be present with others.

Here are some moments from my holiday weekend:

Three adults and The Boy drove two hours to an adult meeting. While we had mentioned the possibility of seeing The Office Dog, we didn’t talk it up. In the back of my mind, I thought The Dog might be missing
in action that day. And he was. The Boy was fine, generating his own excitement and energy. Perhaps we didn’t really need the dog to keep him entertained.

I pride myself in getting a meal on the table, with the hot foods hot, and the cold foods cold (the sermon of Home Economists). As I put the last items on the table, the entire family disappeared — for legitimate reasons. I sat down at the table by myself and waited for everyone to show up. Rather than grumbling (either aloud or internally) about the seeming disrespect and lack of consideration (which was not the case at all), I actually enjoyed a few quiet moments as I waited. The food was still hot when they got to the table and we had a great supper.

Son was charged with putting things in my attic — stuff that had been sitting in the garage for nearly four years. He did as I asked and returned the attic stairs to their ceiling location. Then he realized he’d forgotten The Boy’s wading pool. He pulled the stairs down again and stored the pool. It wasn’t but a few minutes until I saw a stack of window screens that also belonged in the attic. He dutifully pulled the stairs down, for the third time, and stored the screens. I apologized for the inconvenience. I took his “It’s o.k., Mom,” as forgiveness for my less-than-usual organization.

A peach praline pie for Thanksgiving dessert should have remained frozen until we baked it. However, it was thawed, and had been thawed for several days. So the filling had morphed to one side of the pie, leaving sunken crust on the other side. We baked it anyway, though we had serious doubts about how it would turn out. Plan B, if the pie was unsliceable, was to spoon the pie into dessert glasses with whipped cream for garnish.

The sweet potatoes, harvested from my abundant sweet potato vines, turned out to be white on the inside and flavorless, with a woody texture. Brown sugar, orange juice and pecans failed to make them tasty.

The truth is things don’t always turn out as planned. Sometimes I think ahead about alternative plans or solutions or activities — the what ifs — but I don’t give in to worry or anxiety or planning for every possible situation. With me, it’s a fleeting thought — what might I do if  . . . if the dog isn’t there . . . if the dessert flops.

It’s all about attitude. Perfect holidays and perfect people and perfect children and perfect meals and perfect plans don’t exist. The holiday magazines want us to believe such perfection is possible, but as The Boy says “It’s not real.”

Rejoice in what you have: the unexpected occurrences, the mistakes, the imperfections — all the things that keep your life interesting and just beyond your control.

Until next Tuesday. . .