What was intended to be a month long exploration easily turned into one year. Which was not what I expected. Ha!
I learned a few very important things on my journey to truly understanding Expectations. One of those things was setting time limits. I was aware heading into this journey my learning did not begin here and certainly would not end after a month. What I reminded myself through this exploration was to be open to the twists and turns that come with learning. To be open to and welcoming of my journey not looking the way I thought it would. This is a huge lesson that breaks open my willingness to be patient and open with children’s learning too.
The way they learn is not linear, it flows in and out of interests and time. My daughter will move through activities which seem to have no connection to one another but weave together creating a beautiful tapestry of learning. There can be no limits or constraints placed on true learning. Deep learning that nestles within our bones happens over time and in a second where interest and desire meet.
I learned that Expectations limit our scope and distort how we support our children. I looked closely at the words that kept coming up in my thoughts, the words that surround Expectations and wanted to really understand them.
1. a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
2. a belief that someone will or should achieve something.
1. used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.
2. used to indicate what is probable.
1. an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
2. trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
1. an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment.
2. the condition of being morally or legally bound to do something.
3. a debt of gratitude for a service or favor.
1. a moral or legal obligation; a responsibility.
2. a task or action that someone is required to perform.
1. the quality or state of being free from error; accuracy.
2. the quality of being right in an opinion or judgment.
3. conformity to accepted social standards.
These words, whether we are conscious of it or not, shape the way we think about and interact our children. When I think of Expectations and the words above this is what I hear:
A belief that my children have an obligation and a duty to fulfill my wishes, they should accept what I say to be true. They must behave in a correct fashion free from error and they must conform to my ideas of how a child should behave and are required to reflect a debt of gratitude for all I do for them.
These are the foundational words that make up the concept and idea of Expectations. Is it really possible to build and nurture a relationship with yourself or another if this word influences even the slightest thought?
I do not want Expectations to influence my relationship with my children, my husband, my friends or myself in any way. I’d like to explore other avenues of thought that lead me closer to being the most compassionate, the most patient, the most loving person I can be.
It was an interesting experiment as it didn’t only remain about Expectation. It blended into all aspects of the way I think about and see my children. How I see myself and my husband. If this concept is removed from ones subconscious the possibility to accept another unconditionally seems effortless. That is my goal. To accept my children without exception, everyday.
This is a big deal. Big. I’m talking about the little details that shape our days. If I expect my day to move a certain way and it doesn’t am I going to be ok with that? Will I be flexible and still find the joy or will I dig my heals in and protest? If my child has a hard time sleeping and I just want to read my book already! will I be ok with this, flexible enough to find the joy in this situation too? If my child doesn’t like the food I made for dinner will I be ok with this and make her something she does like and does want to eat, will I find the joy in this?
Majority of the time I do. I do find the joy but sometimes Expectations creeps in and tells me I have a right to be upset because what I’m experiencing is not what I decided was acceptable before the moment even occurred. Being conscious of when Expectations color our thoughts will allow for true freedom and unconditional love of oneself and others.
I heard someone recently speak about how we’re always in relationship. You’re in a relationship with your self, your children, partner, employer, employee, bank manager, delivery person, you’re even in relationship with your home, the trees that stand outside your home, with your dog or cat, the potted plant on the windowsill… we are never apart from or separate from engaging in a relationship.
All the other stuff that goes along with living is gravy. The nitty gritty, juicy good stuff is relationship. With your self, your children, your partner… If we are to master a healthy, loving, compassionate, generous, patient relationship with any one or any thing letting go of Expectations will be one of the biggest steps we can take.
Take one day and listen to your thoughts, don’t hide from them, really listen. Don’t shuffle them away. Listen to the Expectations that come up, pay attention when you respond to others or yourself based on an Expectation you have. Pay attention to how your body feels when you find yourself upset with yourself or another and find the Expectation that lives beneath.
Happiness equals reality minus expectations. ~ Tom Magliozzi