My daughter got into some trouble this past Friday. For her privacy sake, I won't go into details; but I will say that I felt as if I had been socked in the gut by a jackhammer and slapped in the face by a prize fighter. I found myself in a situation where the blinders were off and I was looking, not at my little girl, but a young woman making some bad choices. All of her life I have been teaching her to treat others the way she would like to be treated, to tell the truth no matter the cost, and--silly me--I thought she had been listening. Caught up in the subsequent chaos of the weekend, I felt like a drowning woman.
To make the weekend more complicated, my gray-area friend (that's my new name for my former high school flame who is still in the mix) says that he has no expectations of anyone or for any day and hopes that no one ever has any expectations on him. Whaaaaaat??? The man is 42 with a solid career and to all appearances seems like one of the good guys--a smart, fun, caring, responsible human being. Did he seriously mean that he never wants anyone to expect anything of him--ever? Seriously? Or did he simply mean that he never wants me specifically to expect anything of him--ever? And if that's the case: I'm out of that game. I simply can't play by those rules when my heart is at stake. I have been hurt too many times by too many guys who didn't want any expectations--those pesky real life things--to get in their way.
Right or wrong, I do have expectations of myself and of the people in my life; not outrageous expectations but expectations none-the-less. I expect honesty. I expect respect. I expect to be accepted 'as is'. I expect to operate all relationships as a two-way street. I expect to be treated as I treat others. I expect people to walk their talk. I expect people to be authentic to themselves. I expect the best in every situation. I carry these expectations to all areas of my life: my children, my professional peer group, my friends, my intimate relationships and even more so for myself.
Reeling from questions about my expectations possibly being too much, completely wrong or unrealistic, I have mulled over this idea in my head to the point of insomnia. And I have come to the conclusion that I am okay with expectations--realistic expectations--even if that means being disappointed along the way. Without expectations, then what are we left with? Personally, I like that people expect things from me. To me that means I matter, that I have something important to offer, that I am needed. Without expectations my daughter would not know the depth of my disappointment in her actions and would not have felt the remorse she did for shattering them.
Expectations are equivalent to hope in my mind. I have great hope for myself, my life, my children, my career and those people who touch my life. How can that be wrong? I know disappointment...and the past week has been one big disappointment after another...and yet I have expectations that everything will work out for the best.
I understand that people can have unrealistic expectations or can care too much about others' expectations. I do understand that and have had to free my mind of being a slave to others' expectations that deviated too far from my authentic self. There is a fine line, I think. Personally, I like knowing what is expected of me so that I can react accordingly. I also like having expectations so that I don't compromise my truth or settle for the dreaded 'less-than'.
At the end of the day, though, my mind is still tossing with questions and doubts, I still feel as if I have been beat up these past few days, I still want my daughter to make good choices, I still expect success and I'm still an only parent who does not have all the answers. All I can do is expect--or hope--that tomorrow is a better day blessed with clarity.