I had a melt-down over my Instacart order the other day, a full-fledged adult-sized tantrum. It was finally too much! What led to this (over) reaction? Perhaps it was the literal melt-down of the anticipated ice cream. Perhaps it was the dishonesty of the delivery person who said he was 5 minutes away but whose words were belied by the liquid state of the aforementioned ice cream. Perhaps it had just been another long day (aren’t they all?!).

But I think the real reason was something else. (Does there have to be a deeper motivation? Isn’t ruined ice cream enough?) Earlier in the week, a friend had offered us use of her vacation home a few hours away. No one had been there in at least 14 days, she said. There was room for all of us, she said. She was very generous and giving. And we began to dream…

Then it turned out that my son has some papers due for school and some final exams coming up and and and… the timing just wasn’t right. We packed up our dreams for another time. But we had a brief taste of “freedom” even if only in anticipation and it was now harder to return to our stay-at-home state.

I think that we are not alone in this moment.

I see more and more social distance visits (and not such social distance visits). I see parents and kids, friends and acquaintances all chafing at the bit. We didn’t expect it to last this long or we expect things to open soon. And those expectations have changed us.

Just the thought of going away has not only made leaving our home a tantalizing prospect, it has made staying in it less appealing. Barring the fears and anxieties connected to the virus, I have been quite content at home. I can teach all my classes over zoom (which is actually easier than all the driving I was doing). I have exercise equipment at home (really grateful for that) and a backyard and the weather has been accommodating. If it weren’t for those infuriating Instacart orders…

But now that the idea of leaving has entered my reality, I feel restless, antsy. My walks around the neighborhood are no longer satisfying. I think longingly of a trip to the market or the nursery.

Expectations are powerful; they shape our attitudes. But, like with so many other things, they must not be permitted to control us. In the scheme of things, the disappointment was relatively minor. In the scheme of things, a few more days (weeks, months?) of shutdown won’t be a big deal. In the scheme of things, my health and the health of those I love of course matters much more.

I can re-adjust. I can put those expectations back into the box from which they escaped and tamp them down. I can create new expectations of more time at home. Now that I am focused on the power of expectations, I can wield it to my benefit.

I can accept my situation and find once again the peace and contentment in it. If only someone can refer me to a good ice cream delivery service…