Sunday, September 16, 2007

Great Expectations

Expectations.... they're like assholes. We all have them and they stink. No, that's opinions. Sorry. Wrong metaphor.

Anyway, I've been thinking about expectations. I lived with a man for 27 years (known him for 32) who had low to no expectations. For me, for the world, for himself. Well, at least none that he voiced (which was always the problem). So does that mean you are never disappointed when you have no expectations?

Kids and children. Parents have expectations of their kids. We expected our children to do well in school. No discussion. And we were rarely, if ever disappointed. (When Dorothy, Daughter #2) made a B+ in Language Arts as a 6th grader, I said, "How did that happen?" And she replied, "Because the teacher bores the crap outta me." I'd met the teacher at Open House. She was boring.) So the older is out of college and the younger is s sophomore, and we have expectations that they did and will do well. We also have expectations that they are caring, giving, kind humans, and for the most part (unless you are related), we have no been disappointed. But I have recently been faced with expectations that my children will do or say what is expected after I have spent a lifetime of fulfilling their expectations.

A very wise man once told me "Your kids will never love you the way you love them." I think the same is true of expectations. Our kid expect us to love them unconditionally and be at their beck and call. And for the most part, we are. Admit it. They fall down, we are there. They need help with homework, we are there. The need a ride to this or that, we have the car in the driveway ready to back out. They need clothes (shoes, sports equipment, food), we fulfill their expectations. They are rarely, if ever, disappointed.

But when we turn to them with some needs and expectations, they are not always there because it's not their job to fulfill our expectations, now is it? I moved a year ago to a "new" city, not exactly new since it was their college town, but new to me. In many respects, the kids have been helpful with moves (3 so far), but if I ever had any expectations that they would help me the same way I have helped them over the years, I had better get over it. I moved to this third location all by myself. They did not lift a finger. As I left Mabel's (Daughter #1) apartment with my arms full, I had to ask her to open the door. And trust me, she begrudgingly got off her fat ass while watching tv to do so. I had expectations that she would be kind and helpful and was disappointed. Right now, I would like to get my tv retrieved from my first location but each daughter continues to be busy.

So a another wise friend (I have many) asked me, "So are you expecting the job to get done or are you expecting to be loved?" By not pressing them into service, am I afraid they won't love me if I demand some help. Or do I set out with expectations of getting my tv moves regardless of how they feel about me afterwards?

So why did the ex have no expectations of me or himself? Was he hoping never to be disappointed? But he also risked never being fulfilled. He didn't expect me to be skinny, but he didn't expect me to be healthy. A two-edged sword. He didn't expect to have a lifetime partner with rousing conversation, but he also wasn't disappointed when he wasn't the man I wanted to communicate with. So do we go through like with low to no expectations so our hearts don't break or do we raise the bar so that we get the job done?

There are no answers to these questions. I guess now that the divorce is over, it doesn't resolve everything. I still have a hundred questions swirling daily. Where to live? How is the job working? Where do I fit into my children's lives? What do I expect in life? And will I be disappointed when I don't get what I expect? Or will I be giddy when life exceeds my expectations?

Right now, I was expecting to watch the Emmy's. I am disappointed in the weekend.

11 Comments:

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Cherrie said...

If my experience is any guide, you are unlikely to get much help from your adult children in their 20s. They are too wrapped up in establishing their own lives. But when you become a grandma things might change!

Expectations are how our minds fill in blanks. Unfortunately, we often fill them in wrong.

 
At 11:55 PM, Blogger chez béz said...

This post spoke volumes to me. I might be a bit like your ex in some regards.

And as for the kids, your advice is duly noted. ;)

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger ~gkw said...

I think you should expect your childrens help! I know I look at my parents. The sacrificed and like you said were at my beck and call for over half their life. I OWE them something for all of that! I know, they won't ever see the inside of a nursing home unless I, medically, can't take care of them.

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger M~ said...

"I still have a hundred questions swirling daily. Where to live? How is the job working? Where do I fit into my children's lives? What do I expect in life? And will I be disappointed when I don't get what I expect? Or will I be giddy when life exceeds my expectations?"

I have the same thoughts swirling in my head, minus the children issue. I hope we both get resolve.

M~

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't take it too personally. Twentysomethings are just plain dense. Their judgment is poor, they're self-involved and all caught up in starting their "real lives," and their bodies are in overdrive with mind-altering hormones they can't control.

What were YOU like as an adult child in her 20s? In retrospect, did you ever let your parents down? Were there times when you weren't as helpful as you could/should have been?

 
At 3:56 PM, Blogger Bob said...

The remedy here would be to not look back but to be present, look forward and leave room for the unexpected. Rehashing yesterday serves no purpose.

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger Leesa said...

You know, I used to be that way too. If you expect little, you're not disappointed. It's sad, but it works. Of course, it doesn't mean you're happy.

When you have high expectations of someone, enough to maybe give you hope, and then they let you down, you fall hard.
If you didn't expect it, not so let down.

Not the most positive answer, and I don't think I'm that bad now... but I do understand it some.

And hell yeah your kids should have helped you move. Shame on them.

 
At 8:09 PM, Blogger Sailor said...

Sometimes, I find it hard to let people know what I expect- perhaps because I don't feel that I "deserve" to have them met?

Not with the kids, so much, they know and pretty much fulfill what's expected of them; but in my relations with my wife, family, co-workers, I think not-so-much.

Interesting thoughts this raises, thank you!

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Hmmm...I had expectations of the other half, despite my fav quote of "I'm not going to help you because then you'll come to expect it". I ~expected~ him to be foul and rude and mean and cruel. And it was a very rare occasion when my expectations went unmet.

Now, I have Dave. And he's wonderful and caring and generous and attentive and I find myself at a loss for how to act. He has told me over and over until he's blue in the face that I can count on him, but there's that untrusting part of me that wonders when the other shoe is going to drop. I need to learn to lean on him a bit, I think. It's been awhile since I could lean.
And I agree with the general consensus in here about 20-somethings. They are self absorbed, but it is expected. HA!!!
;P
~L.

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger Im A Foto Nut said...

I certainly hope I am on the list of your many wise friends.

At the end of the day, if you are feeling down. Just remember not everybody gets to talk about sex all day at work and not worry about getting smaked by the PC police. LOL

 
At 4:55 AM, Blogger having my cake said...

If we have high expectations, can we ever hope for someone to live up to them? It just leads to a lifetime of disappointment.

My kids are only in their teens and it is quite apparent that they just dont see the bigger picture or the worst case scenario in the way we do. If you need something, they have to be told chapter and verse what it is and how you want it done lmao

Thank you for your really helpful post on my blog. Have tried to contact you but the email on your profile isnt working. I do have a couple of questions which I would be really grateful for your advice on x

 

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