Saturday, August 21, 2010


Expectations play a big part in the story I'm writing. The woman, let's call her A for now since I'm still not settled on a character name, has devoted most of her life to fulfilling other people's expectations. Her parents, teachers, then husband and children, all expected her to be or act a certain way. She expected herself to meet those other expectations. She got pretty fed up with this over the years but instead of redefining her goals for herself, she got weighed down by doing what everyone else wanted.

It's hard to break that pattern of behavior and for her, a gradual descent into self-medicating evolved. Right before the book opens, something happens that finally proves to be her snapping point. Someone expects something of her that is simply intolerable. How she recreates herself and her life, how her actions affect her known relationships (estranged husband, grown kids, etc.) and what happens when new relationships knock on the door, are the heart of the book.

Lots of pondering for me as I navigate this world. So, for the sake of discussion, pick an expectation, any expectation and explain how you feel about it. Is it your expectation of how your relationship(s) should be, or your reaction to what someone expects of you? How do you handle the conflict when opposite expectations collide? Are you always to thine own self true, or do you establish an acceptable compromise, or do you completely rebel? How do you decide which expectation takes priority?


susan said...

My husband says the reason I am often disappointed is that I don't ever speak of my expectations, but I have them. I expect people to act a certain way and they occasionally disappoint me. He thinks I should announce my expectations. We are specifically speaking of my children (both in their 20s....lovely young women and gainfully employed). My explanation is that I don't expect them to act any differently than I act. But I shouldn't have to tell them what I expect since I live it and they should know. That's where he has the problem.

Lots of people often disappoint me in little ways. Those people get upset with me because they have disappointed me and I don't exact a price. What I think is ...oh, I know you better now. I have a friend who says....don't they know you don't a nice way. It's hard to explain, but she's got it. If i ask you to do something, and you don't, I don't get mad at you or take it out on you, I just know not to expect you to do whatever I wanted again. That may sound harsh, but I don't mean it harshly. I expected you to do something. That something was something you couldn't do. Okay. I'll do it myself and I won't put you in that position again. I still love you though.

And, to further respond, all expectations have equal priority. It's how we respect one another. Fulfilling expectations.

Mary Stella said...

Susan, you've introduced an interesting facet for additional pondering. Do you never express what you expect from your daughters or have you shared your expectation, then been disappointed, so now you don't share them anymore?

susan said...

I share. I've even shared my disappointment. Then there are tears. Not my goal.

My husband thinks they're just young and that they inherited what he calls his selfish gene. Maybe. He says they'll get it when I'm gone. Maybe. What I often ponder is how they could live here all their lives and still be surprised when I'm disappointed. Mind you, they are very good workers and great team players. They work hard and don't let their co-workers down.

I think my view of motherhood is different. I have so many friends who need big cards and fancy words and hugs and kisses....very "public" displays. I don't. But make me a cup of tea without me asking...use my favorite cup. The extra thought that shows you know me, that's what I'm looking for. Because that's what I give to everyone.

Maybe my husband is right. But somehow telling what I expect on something like a cup of tea in the white mug with the blue flower seems like I'm dealing with strangers instead of someone who's spent her whole life with me...or someone who is supposed to care about me.

Every few years my husband has to get a medical test for which he has to fast. I know this is a nervous day for him as both of his parents died from the illness for which he is testing. Every time I go and wait in the nearly empty waiting room as everyone else leaves a cell number and goes. I wait for about three hours. And when we get in the car I know he doesn't want to go out to breakfast. He wants to go home. But he's starving. And I always have a bag with his favorite bottled tea and his favorite granola bar. Recently he had to come pick me up from a day long stressful situation. And he didn't bring anything. Small things.

Some of it, I'm sure, stems from how my parents, specifically my mother, was with me. I say this with no malice and no desire for attention. She didn't like me. I took care of her during an illness that lead to her death. She just didn't like me. So all of the nice things I tried to do for her, weren't what she wanted because they came from me. If someone else had done them, she would have been delighted.

This is a subject I do think about.