I just read a story that really struck me. "Notes From A Dragon Mom" was written by Emily Rapp, whose 18-month old son, Ronan, has a fatal genetic disorder called Tay-Sachs. He will likely die by his third birthday.
Her piece, a reflection on the beauty of the day by day she shares with him, the now, cuts right to the heart of a lesson that we try to gloss over every day:
"And there’s this: parents who, particularly in this country, are expected to be superhuman, to raise children who outpace all their peers, don’t want to see what we see. The long truth about their children, about themselves: that none of it is forever."
Wow. She writes about these expectations, these expectations that we have for our children and ourselves, and what it's like to let them go:
"But I have abandoned the future, and with it any visions of Ronan’s scoring a perfect SAT or sprinting across a stage with a Harvard diploma in his hand. We’re not waiting for Ronan to make us proud. We don’t expect future returns on our investment. We’ve chucked the graphs of developmental milestones and we avoid parenting magazines at the pediatrician’s office. Ronan has given us a terrible freedom from expectations, a magical world where there are no goals, no prizes to win, no outcomes to monitor, discuss, compare."
Reading about how she and her husband have loved their son, taken care of him day by day and being thankful for each moment, is profound. As a mom, my heart aches to read about them planning to say goodbye to their small, beloved child, every parent's worst nightmare.
I think that the lessons Rapp is sharing go beyond parenting. The whole letting go of expectations thing? Huge. Something that I've been thinking about and reading about. How to formulate them, re-adjust, let them go when it's time to let them go.
That's why Rapp's piece is not just for parents and not just about parenting.
Expectations -- different from goals. But they are powerful, influential.
Expectations ... how do you manage them?