In my parenting, the number 1 challenge I experience is holding onto unrealistic expectations. Right? Do you remember before you had your first child? What were your fantasies? Your expectations on yourself?
Since doing so much personal work and waiting until I was 44 to be a mom, the expectation that I was READY for this thing called ‘parenting’ was pervasive. Sure, I longed to rock it and my expectation that I was going to always be loving, caring, and available to my daughter ran the show. What was I thinking?
Clearly, I wasn’t. I created a fantasy that bound both me and my daughter in the worse possible way. Setting myself up to feel disappointment over and over allowed the truth, that I didn’t have “control” over myself or my daughter, to reveal itself. Uggg!
Outrage flooded my being when she didn’t listen to me, do what I asked, and talked back. That was not part of my fantasy and honestly, I didn’t have a contingency plan so fell back on my early parenting template which was to take charge and scare her into compliance. Not how I fantasized it would go.
Faced with the pain of failing I looked deeper to find the core of my suffering. Guess what? My unrealistic expectations, first, on myself and then on my daughter was the cause. Being the perfect mom meant she had to be the perfect daughter. We both struggled to just be ourselves. Nice and mean, happy and sad, generous and stingy, and all the traits we carried.
The truth is I only made room for one side of the picture and in doing so my daughter played out the other side to create a whole. Instead of trying to get rid of the parts in her, I didn’t like, I turned inside to see where they lived inside me. I’d hidden them away hoping they would never reveal themselves and yet parenting was the hidden switch that opened the forbidden doors to the lost parts in me.
Slowly, dropping my one-sided expectations I opened to seeing the benefits of what I called the negative. Instead of trying to control my daughter to make sure she only expressed the positive I welcomed the negative. As an adult, it wasn’t as scary as I thought. Now, this doesn’t mean I look forward to the difficult emotions that arise, and yet I’ve learned when they do they are only seeking love which only I can provide.
Of course, I still have fantasies and yet now when experiencing feeling disappointment instead of seeing myself as a disappointment I recognize I’ve set myself up to only see one side. Welcoming the other side my expectations lower as I enter the moment touching the intimacy and beauty of not knowing what the future holds. It is a breath of fresh air.
Practicing over time thinking less and listening more is my key to Purejoy. Ahhhhh!