Shifting Expectations

Originally posted on The Consciously Parenting Blog October 6, 2010

I must confess that when I started September 2010 with a focus on taking good care of myself, I was secretly hoping that the month would good. Fun, even.  Sure, I’d have days that were challenging for me, but going at a slower pace and nurturing myself would really help to off-set the yuck I’d encountered in past Septembers. I know that I’ve really needed to nurture myself and I was hoping that if I would just take the time to acknowledge what this month is really like for me, all would be swell.

Reality check.

I had days where I felt totally lost. Times when I just wanted to sit and cry (and sometimes did). Moments where I just wanted someone to be with me so that I could tell my story. Again. For the millionth time. Days where I didn’t seem to remember what day it was. Days where I had such high hopes for what I would accomplish with my business when the reality was that all I had really accomplished that day was that I cleaned the front room. And I don’t love cleaning. But it was easier than trying to focus on words. Easier than trying to focus on putting together a newsletter. Or responding to emails. Or trying to figure out my schedule for the week.

It’s funny; I’ve always really prided myself on being fairly balanced between my right brain (creative, intuitive, emotional) and my left brain (analytical, linear- after all, my father is an engineer). But toward the end of September, I realize that I was living in my right brain.

In the past, I probably would have worked hard to get out of this place. To “move on” and “get over it,” but I suspect there is a reason this happens and a lesson here that still needs to be learned. So I’m working to allow it. I’m working to shift my expectations for myself. And to be gentle with myself.

After my baby Jacob died, my expectation was that I would have a time of mourning and so would the other members of my family. I expected that Zack, who was almost 4 at the time, would have an adjustment time and would need to talk about what had happened. But after a few months, at the most, we would be moving on and it would be behind us. I didn’t expect that years later, we would still be trying to move through it. I didn’t fully understand that Zack’s grief wasn’t going to come out in words, but through his behaviors. And I didn’t understand his behaviors at the time. I didn’t know what he was trying to say to me.

Eventually my expectations shifted.

I needed him to be where he was. It was only when I slowed down to meet him where he was that we found connection again. And I realize that, in 2010, I need to allow myself to be where I am. This is how I can connect with myself again, too. This doesn’t mean that I cannot hold the vision of a future of connection and wholeness, but I must first acknowledge where I actually am in this moment.

So even though September wasn’t what I expected – a joyful celebration of taking good care of myself and all would be well – it is just what I needed it to be. I’ve enjoyed the slower pace and I’ve learned a lot about what I really need every day to be happy and healthy.

I think we all have Septembers in our lives.

You know, those times when we just want it all to be fine, to “move on” or just “get over it.” But when our feelings don’t match our expectations, we’re disappointed or frustrated with ourselves. Or our children. We spend a great deal of time and effort trying to just keep moving forward, when what we really need is to just be where we are. To slow down or stop. To have another cup of tea. To get together with a friend. To talk about what is really going on with us right now. Even if it is uncomfortable. Even if it isn’t fun. We won’t be there forever. Eventually, it will be October.

Rebecca Thompson Hitt

Rebecca is the founder of The Consciously Parenting Project, LLC, and author of 3 books (Consciously Parenting: What it really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Families, Creating Connection: Essential Tools for Growing Families through Conception, Birth and Beyond, and Nurturing Connection: What Parents Need to Know about Emotional Expression and Bonding), numerous classes and recordings, and the former co-host of a radio show, True North Parents.


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