If you a mom, you are somewhere on the journey of transitioning from a care-taker and decision-maker for the health and well-being of your child or children to being an observer of how they live their lives. I remember when my older son announced he hated the family vacation I had planned for us. I'd always made sure that the trips that included the kids were very kid-centric. On this particular vacation, we were staying in a beach town and I'd arranged for my sons to have a surfing lesson. I thought it would be a big hit. I was incorrect. My older son hated everything about it.
It was quite an eye-opener to see my son in a nanosecond go from fun kid to sulky tween who wanted his independence. It felt awful. I was mad at him for not appreciating all the pains we took to plan a nice vacation. I felt guilty that I didn't know him as well as I thought I did. I experienced shame at wanting him to be different than he was. It took me awhile to realize that it was pretty much inevitable that he would at some point morph into his own person with his own preferences. As a young adult now, it's clear that he's not really hard-wired to be super deferential to the feelings of others. The good new there is that I always have a clear picture of where I stand with him.
I was in the midst of a converstion with a lesbian mom recently who's son in his 30's was in town but hadn't called. She was mad. She blamed herself for not raising him right. She thought her son was punishing her. She was looking for all the validation that her son was doing her wrong. But was he really? Did my son decide he hated the vacation because he was a bad kid? Of course not. In the middle of it though, I was angry too.
So what do we do about people who disappoint us, especially when we've invested so much of ourselves over the years in that relationship? Do we stay mad and just bear it? Cut them out of our lives? Those definitely are options. But do they help us feel better? Consider instead the possibility of examining our expectations. If we can change our thinking about what others should be doing, we can find some ease right where we are.
And just maybe in finding some ease in relationshops with others, we can improve our relationships with ourselves as well.