From a prompt on the DailyOM.com
I don’t think there was any time in my life when my self-expectations were so high as when I had my first child. Up until that point I had pretty much coasted through my life with little to no expectations except to make enough money to live, literally. I didn’t follow the somewhat standard path of my peers by going to college because that opportunity wasn’t available to me. Nothing was really available to me that compelled me to create any type of expectations; I simply had to go to work and get through each day.
So it wasn’t until I had my first child that I was hit with this myriad of self-doubt. Am I doing this right, should I be do more, less, something different altogether……Even my marriage was easy because my husband and I had a great partnership, complete with a lot of love, trust, respect and like-mindedness, so while there were certainly new expectations in my life once married, they were easy to meet.
Once we had our first child, a girl, born in 1995, I was, as most new parents, completely overwhelmed and absolutely gobsmacked at the flood of feelings of incapability, lack of knowledge, and total confusion at the idea that I didn’t have some semblance of control over my situation on a daily basis. I didn’t really have any role models, and my husband was just as overwhelmed as I was. Of course I read all the how-to books, subscribed to every and all the baby and parent magazines, (I was even published in one of those magazines!), followed my pediatrician’s instructions carefully, but the only thing I had any confidence in during the entire time of raising what would be three children was that I loved them fiercely and unconditionally. That was a true blessing because the expectations I put upon myself beyond that were ridiculous.
I was the PTA mom, the classroom mom, the over-the-top birthday party and Christmas mom, the Sunday school teacher mom, the fundraiser mom, the field trip mom, and on and on. All while working full-time. I was the mom who took her children’s teachers out to lunch at the end of every school year, I went to all (well, most……some, actually) sporting events, I read every book to my kids, I bought them every book they ever wanted once they were able to read on their own, I took them to counseling when they appeared to have anxiety or specific discipline issues that I couldn’t resolve, I took them to church, cultural events, concerts. I traveled with them by train, plane, boat and car, together and separately, on vacations to expose them to cities and states across the U.S. including New York, Chicago, Boston, California, Florida, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Ohio, Seattle, Las Vegas, (when they were older), the Bahamas, and many east coast beaches, They went on church mission trips, special educational summer trips, alone, to college campuses when they were still in elementary school. One rode with Santa in the Christmas parade, one spoke live to the astronauts on the International Space Station, they were all published in the local newspapers for special achievements…..Oh my gosh, it just went on and on.
And I know I’m not special or extraordinary. Most parents do the very best they can for their children. But oh the expectations! They are crushing! Will it ever be enough? We live in a world of FOMO and YOLO, (fear of missing out; you only live once) and time is running out every single day. I have no regrets; I don’t think at this point in my life that I did too much or too little and fortunately for me, my kids have gifted me with a semblance of proof of that. They are all well adjusted, happy, educated and highly functioning adults. And I love them as fiercely and unconditionally as I did the day they were born. And I suspect that could have and would have been enough.
One thought on “Self-Expectations”
Aloha, Amy — Nice one! Being a parent is a scary, sometimes impossible job. You did it so well . . . . Love,Bill www.billworthbooks.com