If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a set of expectations and you’re the only one who is supposed to fulfill them. They might revolve around your schedule and the things you expect to consistently cross off your to-do list. They might revolve around your personality, and the face that you expect to consistently put forward to the rest of the world. Some of your expectations could be related to your role at work, or at home as a spouse or a parent.

Seven months into parenting two cubs, I’ve discovered this Mama Bear heart must learn to leave one particular expectation with the bees. (And it’s one I’m certain I’m going to continue to hit paws with for years to come.) Read on and tell me if you’ve been there.

Introducing someone who you might know already: the Fairness Expectation. I’ll define this briefly as the expectation that things between your kids should always be “fair”.¬†For example, whatever you did for this kid at this age is what you’ll do for that kid at that age, too. Or, you always need to make sure kids one, two and three get equal amounts of attention, affection, screen time…etc.

I wasn’t aware that I was making cumbersome efforts at pawing my way up the Fairness Tree until I reached a shaky branch called Guilt. Guilt is a little voice that sometimes whispers like this:

You’re not doing enough. When he was six months old, you were reading books to him every day. You consistently made sure he got a nap at the same time and you helped him stay on his schedule with excellent consistency. You’re not doing those things for this child, and that means you’re falling short. Get it together!

At first I didn’t think this was an issue for me, because our circumstances have changed so significantly, maintaining the same expectations seems completely unreasonable. But underneath the surface, I sensed this unsettledness about my parental responsibilities, this uncomfortable sense of …. uhhhhhhwhatamIdoinguhhhhh … that’s kind of hard to describe when I thought about trying to settle into a routine, now that we have two cubs and we’re settling down in a new cave (and country) and life is getting re-started.

So it took my small Mama Bear brain a while to realize two things: 1) I was holding myself to a set of expectations, without really realizing it and 2) My expectations were unrealistic and needed to change.

Raise your paws to welcome Truth, stage left.

The Truth is, no matter how much I try to achieve the expectations I may set for myself as a wife, a Mama Bear, a daughter, or an employee, I am going to fall short. But the Truth is also: I set unrealistic expectations for myself, instead of allowing the word of God to be a measuring stick by which I discern how I’m doing in the different parts I’m playing on my life’s stage at the moment.

God intended from the get-go for my first cub to be just that, born first (and He knew that he would therefore naturally get more undivided attention). He also knew when cub number two would come along, in the middle of a transcontinental move, which would mean the first several months of his life would look very different from the first child’s. He is the Creator who appoints the time and places in which we should dwell, and we can trust that He has the master plan.

If I keep clambering along under the yoke of trying to perform to my standard of fair, in the end I won’t be serving the Lord or anyone else very well — I’ll just be serving the expectations I’m setting for myself.

Are there hidden expectations you’re trying to perform toward? Perhaps not just as a family member or employee, but even as a human-being or a Christian?

Let the Light of the Word shine on those dark corners of your mind. With God’s help you can free yourself from yourself, and from the burdens you put on your own back, which you wouldn’t really expect anyone else to carry. Jesus spoke very life-giving Truth when He said:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” {Matthew 11:28-30}