I had a revelation just the past day or so and a small voice has been trying to get me to sit and listen to it.
I have incredibly high and (sometimes) unrealistic expectations from others. I have lamented currently having no deep friendships, no one I can share my thoughts or cool discoveries with or philosophize with, or even fun things I do with the kids in real life.
I have lamented that no one wants to even go to the bookstore to grab a cup of coffee with me, or who wants to get to know me outside of being a mother and a wife.
After all, once upon a time I had a really exciting (to me) and geeky job in medical genetics. Before that, I worked in a real CSI-like crime lab (okay, it wasn’t really that glamorous and it was extremely stressful). I worked both of those jobs in a major metropolis. For me, it was a wonderful mix of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Chaos and adventure awaited at every turn. There were highbrow stores and quaint bohemian shops. There were small dives with great sandwiches and expensive restaurants with artfully arranged platters. There was history to learn and architecture to see and boat trips to experience.
I had plenty of adventures there. I was fortunate to befriend some really great people who literally expanded my world by taking me to the hidden (and not so hidden) treasures of the big city. After coming home to be a SAHM, my world got really small again and that has been a bit hard to take.
I complain about the lack of depth in my current friendships. But really, I realize that it’s not at all the fault of the friends I do have. It’s mine.
I sat in the audience last night of a magic show that was put on for the families of the students at my daughters’ elementary school. Before the show started, I looked around. I saw many familiar faces, the mothers of my daughter’s friends. They smiled and waved to me, and I smiled and waved back to them. I am starting to know quite a few people through my daughters, and even though they started off as mere acquaintances, they don’t have to remain that way.
One mother (who knows of this blog), told me that she saw the pictures of the Renaissance Fair we went 2 Saturdays ago. If I understand her correctly (it was a little hard to hear from where we were standing – aisles apart) she said she was going to go this weekend. Another mom, T, just got back from the Renaissance Fair, and after the show brought me the felted beads I asked her to get for me from there last Saturday. I showed her the pictures of the Fair I took and she really wanted to go but didn’t realize how kid-friendly it was until I told her.
Last night,while we were talking after the show, she had told me a wonderful story about a gypsy there who had spoken with at length to her daughters and created a little bit of magic for them. She gave the younger daughter the gift of speaking to animals and seeing fairies.
To her older daughter, the gypsy gave the gift of “vision” because the daughter has to wear glasses. My friend said the gypsy blew a bubble, held it in her hand, and it turned into a glass bubble, which she then gave to the daughter as a gift.
I saw the daughter with a new sparkle in her eyes, and an incredible sweet smile and she was talking – something I haven’t seen her do spontaneously in about a year. I wished I could take a picture of her face that moment.
When I spent time with T last week at the park, after we saw her heading that way, I realized I really like spending time with her. We have a few things in common and, most importantly, she kind of understands the needs of the complex child because she has one of those herself. It’s was really nice to share the tough moments of parenting a child with intensity with someone who doesn’t automatically think the best way to handle it is with more strict parenting.
I have realized I have had too many high expectations of others, wanting them to philosophize with me, or to help me figure out the next path in my life, or to listen to me lament what’s not going right at the moment with my incredibly complex kids.
Somewhere along the way, I have forgotten what it was like to just put myself out there and be a friend to someone else. Somewhere along the line I became a little self-absorbed and I started retreating from others for no real reason other than the fact I was looking for someone like myself. I am not sure I can handle someone who is as intense and as brooding and as whiny as myself. 🙂
I got a bit of extremely valuable feedback though not too long ago from someone* who expressed this lovely statement about me:
Your blogging, to the contrary, indicates a very active and gifted wife and mother who struggles to do the best she can by her husband and children.
I realized that until I read that about myself from someone else, I failed to realize that I am a lot more competent even now, in this role as a stay-at-home mom, than I really give myself credit for. I don’t need to have such high expectations for my friendships and I can enjoy them for who they are, not what they can bring to the table.
I had, once upon a time, incredible self-esteem. Not because I had been validated as a child from my family, but indeed, because I wasn’t. I knew deep down inside I was worth-while even though they didn’t tell me so and tried to extinguish the light in my soul. I did have positive feedback from others outside the family, enough so that I started to see myself as competent. I do have positive feedback now, through my blogs, even if I don’t have it in my relationships. But I really don’t need to have that. Somehow I convinced myself that I did.
I think it’s about time I remember this, and adjust the expectations I have of others and simply enjoy their presence without wanting them to meet my complex needs. If they happen to, great, but if they don’t, that’s all good too. The one to meet my complex needs best is me. I can and will be able to accomplish this. I do have great faith in myself. I think this will take the pressure of my relationships and allow for more acceptance and peace in my heart.
*(to tbs – thank you).