Anyway, the what-did-you-expect thing pops into my mind with alarming regularity. Only these days it doesn't necessarily pertain to parenting.

A Few Things I Never Counted On (Plus What I've Actually Come to Expect)
  • Why does a package of the test strips I need to check my blood sugar levels every day cost $79.97 here in the USA, while those very same strips cost $42.97 in Canada? I expect to feel the occasional pang when I see someone who is tall and tan and blonde and lovely, but I never expected to find myself deeply jealous of diabetic Canadians.
  • I never expected that the money I don't spend on healthcare would be spent on umbrellas, but it turns out I lose an average of five to 31 umbrellas each and every year...sort of like Mary Poppins with early-onset dementia. I can't remember who said it (see dementia reference one line up) but it's absolutely true: To fall in love with your umbrella is to flirt with nihilism.
  • I want politicians to quit cheating on their wives. But I don't want them to knock it off because they're breaking a sacred vow—as far as I'm concerned, that's between the guy and whomever he swore to cleave only unto—and it's not because when he gets caught, it keeps everybody from focusing on the fact that the sky is falling. Nope, the reason I favor fidelity is that I'm just so tired of feeling stupid about this stuff. Embarrassing as it is to admit it, every single time one of these governors or senators or mayors or congressmen or presidents claims to be faithful, from Gary Hart to John Edwards to Mark Sanford, I believe him. There, I've said it. It's 2009 and I still expect integrity from men in power.
  • You couldn't pay me enough to return to my wonder years. For one thing, women wore way too much Charlie; for another, I had a most unfortunate perm. Still, each morning when I look in the mirror, I expect to see the face I had at 19 looking back at me. Frankly I don't know who this other chick is (or where she got that extra chin), but she sure seems tired, and it's starting to freak me out.
  • I now know that there will be more nights when my daughter will cry and I will feel inadequate and lonely and none too thrilled to see her get a Mohawk, just as my mother kind of hated the great perm of '79. But here's the thing: I do expect life to get easier (I know, I know—this from the woman who trusted Hart, Edwards, and Sanford), but it's true.

I can't put my finger on exactly why I expect life to get easier—maybe it's as simple as the idea that children grow and memories fade and time heals and the world goes round. Maybe it's the comfort of knowing there are Mamies in the world, friends who show up with a box of blueberries and a funny story and the strength to let you go limp when you need to, or maybe it's just that I finally figured out that life can turn on a dime—I've learned to expect the unexpected.

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