noun: expectation · plural noun: expectations
a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future
From the moment that we first find out that we are going to become parents, we envision what that may look like. We dream about their first words, first steps, first day of school, first date, first car etc... I really could go on. For many of us those things never come. Or, if they do come, it looks a lot different than we had expected.
I frequently hear other moms mourn the lack of those expected events that most people take for granted. They feel the painful sting of the missed birthday party invites and the disappointment of the ones that ended in tears. The mourning doesn't end there though. What about prom, graduation, driving...yes another big list, right? I know that we have all felt it.
present participle: mourning
feel or show deep sorrow or regret for
feel regret or sadness about (the loss or disappearance of something)
For special needs moms Facebook is both a blessing and a curse. It is a wonderful way to not feel alone or isolated. On the other hand there is a bad side. We find ourselves hiding the other posts. You know what I am talking about. The, "Oh, my five month old has been up twice a night from teething, how will I make it!" While you are sitting there thinking that you can count on one hand the nights that you have gotten a full night of sleep in SEVEN YEARS. Depending on how much support your child needs, instead of bragging about your kid being a honor student you are bragging that they put their own cloths on.
Special needs moms and moms of typical kids alike take wayyy too much credit for their child's success and failure respectively. This is a big source of heartache, for some of us parents. We feel that everything about our child is a direct reflection of us. But, in all reality it isn't. Yes we influence them, but they choose. Sometimes, (often), there isn't even a choice. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. My son may not be an honor student but he is extremely kind and companionate. I call it a win.
I think that the only way that we can really over come the disappointment from failed expectations is to radically redefine what our expectations are based on. We have to take this mold of what we think that our child would have been or should be and throw it onto the ground. Stomp on it a bit, (free therapy). Then slowly, with patience for ourselves and our kids redefine our expectations to what really makes our kids happy.
Take a second. Think of one experience. Think of what that event looks like. Now imagine the look on your child's face, on your face and on the faces of the people around you. Do they look happy? What would the look on your child's face REALLY look like if they were there? Not so pretty, am I right?
I am not promising that it will be easy. There will be work and it isn't a one time thing either. It is a constantly morphing, balancing act. I still find myself frustrated, followed by anger, then mom guilt and repeat. That is where the good side of Facebook comes into play. Having a safe, judgment free space where others can listen to your vent and give you the it's- ok- we- have- been- there pat on the back that you really need.
Today at Costco I saw a man in his forty's with cerebral palsy. He was in a wheel chair and with his care worker,(respite?), having frozen yogurt. He was slowly, carefully, feeding himself. After a while the lady who must have been his mother, (she had the unmistakable look of love in her eyes), showed up. I heard a waft of their conversation. The caretaker was telling his mother that he had done well. The mom must have been in her late seventies or early eighties. I saw her shake her head in approval and she looked happy.
Her story is not much unlike all of our stories. We have a child. That child grows up and we love them for who they are no matter what that is. We mourn the disappointments and then we move on. The little things that make them happy we are happy for. Even if it is something as seemingly small as feeding themselves frozen yogurt.