We are Expecting!
Have you ever wondered why they say a couple is “expecting” when they get pregnant? Perhaps it is because the moment a baby is conceived, a lifetime of endless expectations start?
Expectations we put on ourselves, expectations our loved ones (and not so loved ones) put on us and the expectations we put on our child. What gender will the baby be?
We are expected to put on a minimal amount of weight, with only our bellies swelling while the rest of our bodies stay fashionably thin. But we are also expected to not look too thin as our baby might end up malnourished. We have to have a gender reveal, a baby shower, a maternity shoot.
And let me be clear, none of these are bad things at all. It is just that doing these because we want to and doing them because we think it is expected of us are two very different things. The former “sparks joy”” in the words of the famous Marie Kondo and the “latter” sparks unease at best and anxiety at worst.
Unmet expectations are exactly what cause disappointment, and it is therefore really important to take a hard look at the expectations we have set for ourselves and our little ones. How many of these are actually us striving to be better parents, and how many of these are expectations driven by what we feel are society’s metrics of “good parents.” It has become clear to me that so much of the parenting journey is about reflecting on our own behaviour and emotional response to events, rather than about teaching my child. The hardest part about parenting has definitely been regulating my own emotions.
I personally like to set long term parenting goals as they seem more achievable and don’t cause me too much stress in the present. And my long-term parenting goals centre around the type of relationship I aspire to have with my children as well in raising my children to be kind individuals who will always help those in need of it.
I also aspire to model a healthy relationship with my spouse so that my children know exactly what to look out for if they decide to have life partners of their own. These value-driven goals do not require me to be anxious about developmental milestones or academic performance. Instead, they make me a better person as they require me to model the behaviour I would like to impart to my children.
Emotional regulation alone would be such a powerful tool that my children can use when the encounter the hurdles that may come their way as they live their lives. And if the hurdles trip them up, they must always know that their father and I are right here, waiting to patch them up.
As I read on my favourite parenting Instagram page @ourmamavillage “Our children will learn the lessons of the real world simply by living in the real world. We do not need to be our child’s first critic/bully in order to prepare them for the hardships of the world. The world will provide these opportunities on its own.”
What do you think? Do you think that some expectations may be fruitful to have? I would love to hear from you! We are all learning together on this wonderful journey of parenting after all.