This is a tough one.
Handling five young children and all their activities? A cakewalk. Having a husband who traveled and was busy whenever he was home? A day at the beach. Having a baby at age 39? No sweat. Living through a divorce? Bad, but not as bad as this.
I read once that whenever your expectations are not met, it’s because you’re not seeing the whole situation. I’m thinking it’s because we see only what we want to see, or maybe we choose not to believe what we’re seeing. Either way we set ourselves up for a tumble when we project our expectations onto someone else. Yikes, this hurts.
When children grow up and get their own lives, it’s a celebration. Weddings are happy, grandchildren are amazing, and all is right with the world, right? Um.. not so fast there, Ma.
You think you know what you taught them, and you think you know they internalized it. You nurtured and cultivated loving relationships within your own walls, and you think you know how it will all shake out. What you may fail to recognize is that you know nothing.
With grown children the rules and the focus change. Unless you are very wise or very lucky, what you expected is not what you get. It’s not necessarily bad or evil.. it’s just not how you envisioned the post-child-raising life with your adored offspring.
The worst part is they don’t get it. How can they? Did I get how my mother felt when I was 20 or 30? No. But I sure do now.
That’s why it has to be OK. And someday, if we’re all lucky, our time on the planet together and the cycle that is this life will start to make sense. But today is not that day.
In the meantime, I ask myself why all this matters. Here’s why:
Because when you’re a mother… no matter how old your kids get, every night for the rest of your life, when you lay down to go to sleep, you wonder where they are.
Because everything you did when they were little meant something different to you than it did to them.
Because until they have children of their own they can’t know how you feel about them.
Because even though they may love you, they will never feel about you the way you feel about them. They can’t. It’s not in the cycle.
It all matters because I’m supposed to learn something from it–and allow my children the same guilt-free privilege.
Expectations? Razed, indeed.