When you have expectations you are setting yourself up for disappointment so, according to the Bhagwad Gita, one should do things without any expectations.
In a similar vein Ignatius Loyola asked his followers to labour and not to ask for any reward. Nike, the famous shoe company being more modern and hip very succinctly asks you to just do it. But honestly, how many of us can just do it?
The minute a little one is born, he/she brings forth in us new hope and new expectations with each one of us hoping that the little one will carry something of one’s legacy into the future. I remember the first thing I heard after my grandson was born was that he looked just like his maternal grandfather and immediately we expected the little one to be a spitting image of him. Of course there were traits that were similar but the little fellow had other genetic traits too inherited from others who contributed to his gene pool.
And with each day, a new facet of his personality was revealed so when he smiled his first smile we expected him to be a friendly chap, when he ate his first solid food with great enthusiasm, we expected him to be a gourmet, when he enjoyed his first family celebration we expected him to be a party animal, when he danced to music we expected him to be a musician and the list just goes on and on and on. All of us parents and grandparents suffer from this disease – of expecting our child to be someone extraordinarily fantastic. Of course at a more rational level we know that this is not possible. After all, looking at our own limitations, how can we expect our children to surpass them? Yet, hope lives eternal and we are all only human.
A mother whose secret dream of becoming a film star was quashed might nurture her child to become one. Successful professionals would expect their children to follow in their footsteps and business families of course make no bones about the fact that their children are expected to carry on the family business. Every effort is made towards fulfilling these expectations be it going to the right play schools so that they get into the right school which ensures the right college, the right friends and networks and consequently the perfect life. Parents spend hours of their own time ferrying children to different activities, invest money and effort in trying to further their child’s potential or what they think their children are capable of. That’s the reason why you hear of stories of maid servants sending their children to English medium schools they can ill afford or mothers spending two or three years trudging back and forth helping their children out in colleges out of town so that they settle down to successful careers.
You also hope that one day your child will
- Look after you when you are ill
- Press your feet when they hurt
- Call you up in the morning to find out how you are feeling
- Run around and do odd jobs and errands when you can’t do them any more
- Do you proud and make you happy with his/her accomplishment
So when a child does not fulfill or live up to the parents’ expectations, there is bound to be disappointment. Some parents take it in their stride adopting a philosophical attitude that what has to be will be. Some parents can’t live with the disappointment and make it very obvious by either confronting the child or more drastically cutting off all ties and having them out of their lives.
While detachment is the name of the game, can one truly parent objectively? When you assemble a layette for your baby, are you truly doing it mechanically? Are you bathing him without any wonderment at the beauteous creation you’ve made? Aren’t you counting your blessings when you see him take his first steps? Doesn’t your sleep go for a toss when he stays up all night? Don’t you feel elated when he comes first in class? Don’t you feel it was worth the sacrifice when you see his happy smile? Can you stop yourself from beaming with pride when you hear someone say how wonderful he/she is or how perfectly he/she was brought up? It is hard to bring up a child robotically, objectively, emotionlessly, so how then can one expect parents not have any expectations from their child?
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood