Jason is my second husband and I like to think that the hard lessons learned in my first failure, make me my best self in this one. I am hyper vigilant to monitor my expectations of Jason. My list is my list. His list is his list. If I am overwhelmed he steps in to re-organize and  prioritize so I can focus. It works this way and no other.

As clients started cancelling their spring break reservations with the kennel, Jason become a full time fixture in my daily routine. The teenagers transitioned effortlessly into “summer” mode. Joey started a full time job working with machinery and metal and mud! In his spare time he renovated his room and built a loft in his cabin. Michael worked very hard to get as many hours at Save-on as he could to avoid farm chores. Peytanne focused her time painting her room and staying digitally socialized. Her Telkwa School was diligent and proactive in their distance learning. The daily workload included Zoom art lessons, Gymnastics, and science projects. Journaling and reading seem like self driven activities…unless you are a 12 year old girl whose 2 older brothers have no focused direction.

Organizing grade 7, 9, and 11 into one family driven lesson was without question demanding. I set up flip board charts, created schedules, clearly outlined the rules and had a family meeting to explain how the COVID-19 schooling would commence. Politicians promised students that their grade would remain the same no matter what. (Thank gawd for the off button on the remote!) I silently thanked the universe for a slow kennel so I could spend time with my kids and work on grades that were already set in stone. Michael’s silent eye roll and exaggerated breathing was easier to handle than Joey’s smirky twinkle coupled with hiiillllariousssss ways to say “no!”. Peytanne’s look of misery as she doodled during her pretend reading session was expected and I appreciated her effort of simply sitting at the table.

As my kennel duties turned to teacher duties, money issues started leaking out of the cracks. The research into politicians promises of help for small business (“the back bone of the economy!”) was grueling and frustrating. My small business met none of the criteria of eligibility for support. My expectations of government funding did not disappoint. The RDA was given a large budget to help people like me, and I appreciate their effort of answering my phone call. As teacher duties became investigative journalism chores, my expectations started leaking out.

While we worked, we all counted on Jason to drive us back and forth and pick up a few extra chores. Five minutes after his first “teaching” session with his angelic daughter he walked calmly into the grooming room, sat down and simply said “no”. In Jason’s recount I can see Peytanne’s red eyes focus on him…hold her breath…purse her lips…firmly grasp her mechanical pencil and methodically release threads of black lead onto the table. As quick as he arrived in “quitting teacher” mode, he switched gears to “positive student”. He promised to work with me and zip through grooming to make up lost boarding income. Two minutes into my lesson, Jason’s eye glazed over. I tried to get his attention a couple times before I quit.  With a sigh of unmasked relief he was dismissed. Jason is an absolute artist in the way he tunes me out…most times I can be talking to him after ensuring his focus and direct eye contact and he honestly cannot repeat back to me what I’ve said, and that is when he is listening.

My expectations of Jason listening to me have always been very, very low. Instead I resorted to a honey-do list…a full flip chart sheet of endless “must do’s”. I let go of any expectations I had in the hour I was creating the list as I watched him sip his coffee while his eyes drifted slowly from the list to the floor. In an effort to be involved he would throw out a question that to him had no answer. He left the kitchen to make his usual morning rounds checking on the animals and interrupting my complicated new accounting system to tell me someone had pooped in the kennel and he was headed to the dump…again. After patiently waiting for an acknowledgment of the honey-do list in any form, I switched to reverse psychology. His honey-do list turned into a full page of humorous tasks that I wrote with Peytanne while I tried to teach her the art of sarcasm. A very important life lesson when you are a diva! My expectation that he would refocus on the honey-do list exploded into another trip to town. Jason stopped me outside that day and asked if my expectations were always this high. This was my slap to wake up and refocus on what is important. This family is important. I just need to set new goals for myself.

Yes, sometimes my expectations are too high. Many times I simply cannot control my brain to set new goals…first I must get rid of the thing that I am expecting someone else to do. In the last 2 months the boys have checked on the pets, filled their water and food bowls, brought them scraps from the kitchen and walked away quickly before noticing the huge pile of chicken manure impeding their roost, or the algae covering the large fish tank that holds a single solitary goldfish, or the fencing that needs to be secured around the bunnies to keep them safe. As Jason starts his return to the mill, the chores pile at my feet like the chickens stinking pile of shit that I thankfully can not smell.

Last night I locked the chickens in their filthy coop. Soon I will head out and load them into the crates Jason picked up from a friend. He insisted on having chickens five years ago, what a grand idea that was! He also wanted a goat and a pig…thank gawd I won those arguments! I really do love my chickens. The rooster I named after my Uncle Rick, and he is anything but a “dick”. He sits on my shoulder and is mostly kind to the hens. Nobody wants him and so I will not load him into the crates. I sat in the coop last night and tried to determine who his favorite girls are so I could leave him with company. His favorite isn’t hard to pick out, she has a bare back and is always the first to bed and the last to come out in the morning. She will not be staying with us. I hope she finds some peace in the free range she will find in her new home. I will keep my lovely buff brahma “Lady” who is chronically ill. I will also keep the orphington girl named “Nettle” as she likes her routine and the stress of finding her place in the new flock will be stressful for her. I am also keeping one of the backyard mixes “Baby” that hatched here as her crop is always very full and wiggles when she walks. I can give her the extra attention to keep her eating her grits. With my 3 needy girls and my sweet rooster I wonder who will be the next favorite hen for Richard. As long as his “beyond prime” body focuses on protecting and guiding the hens he will have a coop and harem to call his.

Letting go of my dream to be part of a small farm has been overwhelmingly hard. It started with Bob the cow, then the sheep (Sally & Stella), last fall it was the pony and the last of my sheep, sweet Aghy. With the future absence of the chickens, rabbits and goldfish I am looking forward to beating down the knee high grass in my round pen so me and Nucents can hit the trails. Again…my expectations are leaking out. The reality is that as our parents age and stubbornly refuse to make life changes it falls to me to make sure things are not slipping through the cracks. Ignoring cracks create crevices that are simply unmanageable. I say this as I sip my tea and let my gaze drift to the floor dreaming of a quiet horseback ride through the trees.

The expectations of being home for my kids while starting this business was laughable. Having them grow up on a farm and learn the reward of hard work was missed while I was cleaning up poop. As I give up the hopes I had I am careful to rein in my expectations of what the future will be.

I will give my friends and family all that I can in the form of a quick digital quote. Peytanne is easy as I search for diva quotes that promote self love and acceptance. Michael needs inspiring ideas to help him accept the unfairness of adult life. Joey is easy…stupid quotes that make him smile and start his day off on the right foot. Migon gets quotes about peace, quiet, nature, and love. Christie is easy…pull up the Budda quotes…nothing specific…just general solid advice from the guru of life. Mom gets my undivided attention every morning at 7am to discuss what she did yesterday, what she will do today and what the kids need. Raya gets my attention as I try to inspire her in business brainstorming sessions several times a week.

I will continue to endeavor to make paperwork flow, clients happy, keep things clean,  cherish the dogs around me, make self-care part of my routine, and simply let-go. Let-go of expectations. Let-go of unmanageable dreams. Let-go of clutter and sentimentality. Simplify and take each moment as it comes to me with love, admiration, and peace.

Peace begins when the expectations end. -Budda-