Great Expectations

Our holiday celebrations always begin at the Pittsburgh Airport since all three of our children live out of state. So Friday found us spending a greater part of the evening waiting for two flights to arrive. Every few moments, waves of passengers descended to the baggage area on escalators and searched the waiting crowd for their loved ones. Eyes lit up, mouths broke into smiles, while hands raised in greeting until the moment physical contact was made. And in those waiting moments there was so much raw emotion, so much vulnerability, so much expectation.

Expectation. “A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future…or that someone will or should achieve something” Let that definition sink in for a moment. Expectation, a belief that the other will or should provide something we need or want…each of us brings a bit of that to each of our relationships. I think these feelings often become intensified during the holidays.

For the adult child coming home for the holiday, emotions and issues that have been shelved over the year come to the surface. It’s true for the parents as well, and rather than addressing them head on, we put on smiley happy faces and pretend no problems exist and wonder why mom blows up over lumpy gravy.

As I meditate further on this word expectation, I realize that I bring great expectations to my relationships with my children. Perhaps more than can be fulfilled. The mother-child bond between us is strong and the love is, well there are no words to describe how deep that goes. But the twenty-four seven aspect of the relationship is gone. Of course this is the natural way of it, but that is the expectation, the need, the longing that goes unfulfilled. So I look for that in my grandchildren and there too, the expectation goes unfulfilled as they live so far away.

So, where does that leave me, and maybe you? We cannot look to our grown children or to our grandchildren to fulfill our maternal/paternal expectation. The need or want is inside us, and hoping that another will fulfill that need is a losing battle. It’s probably time to let go. Let go of the expectation that your child or grandchild will complete your happiness. That you will only be wholly content when they are physically present. Because they are present each and every moment. We carry them with us with every breath and with every heartbeat.

More Than Elves Lurking

The Holiday season is squarely upon us.  And if you’re anything like me you’re feeling the pressure slowly  squeeze the joy right out of your heart. Cue the perfectly timed pictures of my darling little granddaughters under their just decorated tree.  Ahhh….that’s better.  Let’s face it, it’s the tiny angelic faces that surround us that keep us sane during the season.  And quite right too.  The wonder and awe in those innocent eyes remind us why we rush around throughout the month of December.  For some of us though, those faces are far away.  We can find that in addition to feeling the normal stresses of the holidays, there also lurk feelings of sadness and even jealousy.

Many grandparents have grandchildren who live far from them, but live close to the other set of grands.  This can set one up for the green eyed monster in the best of circumstances, but the holidays have of way of intensifying those feelings. Just remember you are unique. While those who are close do spend more time with the grand kids, you offer something no one else can.    First, when you interact with your grandchildren, they have your undivided attention.  The time has been scheduled just for them.  This is a priceless gift in our very hectic world. Don’t underestimate that.  Second, for your grandchild, seeing you is special, kind of like it’s own holiday. Pretty cool!  As your grandchild grows older you will find a special passion that the both of you share.  Right now, my oldest granddaughter loves to read and write stories, so we can talk about that for hours, long after those who see her every day have had their fill.  Undivided attention along with unconditional love is always the best gift you can give a child, and that can come from any distance.  

In my situation, my granddaughters live with their parents quite separate from any other family.  For the last four years they have traveled across the country to visit both sets of grandparents, great-grandparents, and assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Quite an exhausting and hectic trip, not to mention expensive for a young family.  This year, they have opted to stay put, and while my initial reaction was sad, I find am grateful they will be able to be in their own house with their beloved kitty cat soaking up the California sunshine, free to be and react however they want.  No weird food they must politely eat, no schedule arranged by some family member they don’t even remotely know.  We will Skype and we will be blessed to see the excitement and joy.  But the real blessing and gift  will be seeing the love on their faces.  And that is the point.  The love.  The gift of Christmas.

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