As a young child, I tried to do what was right. I know I didn’t always succeed, but I know I never started my day thinking, “Who can I disappoint today?” I know there were expectations of me, and I had expectations of those around me. I expected my mom and dad to provide a roof over my head and food in my belly. They never failed in that area. I expected to have their love and support, and although it wasn’t always in a way I had imagined, I knew I was loved, and I did receive their support if what I was trying to achieve or attain was sensible, and affordable. I’m not quite sure what exactly was expected of me, but I quickly learned that if I did as I was told, or spoke to grown-ups with respect, my life was much easier. And I was expected to do my chores, as were my brothers and sister.
As a teenager, the expectations I had from my younger years were completely shattered. I watched my parent’s marriage dissolve before my eyes, as my father started drinking way too much, and my mother sort of retreated into her own little world of depression. As is common, I rebelled and tried to find my own way in doing things, just as my parents had. I no longer expected anything from them, or anyone else for that matter, and no one dared to expect anything of me. Our family seemed to break apart and speaking for myself, it was a difficult place to be.
Without adding any more detail, I overcame that time in my life. I was introduced to a loving God who continues to show me daily, His grace and love, and forgiveness. I have learned so many things since I have allowed God to be in control of my life, and I try not to expect anything from others. I repeat, I ‘try’ not to expect anything from others. It is hard not to expect certain things from my husband, like taking care of the car maintenance, or remembering our anniversary. I don’t expect anything from my parents anymore, because they are both deceased. I sort of win by default there.
Now I’m a mother. I suppose at 50 years old and after two grown children and one nearly grown, I have earned a right to share my motherly two cents. I am also proud to include the fact that I have been married to the same man, and their father, for 24 years. I am grateful for having been a mother, and I love my kids dearly, but it hasn’t always been what I had hoped or imagined. Those are hard words to write down, because I know so many other women who seem to be ‘model’ mothers. It seems like their kids are always in the right place at the right time, saying and doing the right things. I was sure if I brought my kids up completely opposite of the way my home life had been, meaning our being a church-going family, no drinking, etc., then all would be well. It was a good theory.
Don’t get me wrong. I have good kids. So far the two eldest have graduated from high school and are in those first years of trying to find their way. The third is about to start his freshman year in high school. All three are healthy and attractive, outgoing and smart. I believe they grew up with the same expectations I had for my parents. Shelter, food, clothing, etc. was expected, and delivered. But I have to ask myself if it was delivered too easily? I hear many parents express a deep concern for this generation, and how they seem to feel entitled to so many things. Rather than ‘expecting’ from others and taking a risk of being disappointed, they behave as if they are entitled to whatever they want, and God help us parents who dare to say “No!”
In recent weeks, I have felt the full weight of trying to use tough-love. Rather than earning respect and honor as their mother, I have received silence, ungratefulness and lack of respect. It just isn’t what I had expected… I understand it may come with time, as we all grow older. I hope they don’t wait too long, because tomorrow is never promised. Goodness, this must be how God feels about us, every day. Please forgive me, Lord.
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