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.