Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops an incomplete healing mandala of herself and her daughter who died of leukemia.Something has been bothering me. A couple of weeks ago when I blogged about how to handle holiday stress, I posted all over Facebook, “Stay in bed with a hot water bottle…. You don’t have to do the holidays this year.”

“No way. Expectations,” a couple of Facebook friends replied. And it took a while until I remembered my many years of being The One Who Made Joy Happen in our house. Back then I couldn’t have simply turned my back on what was expected of me. I would not have wanted to. There are times in your life when people look up to you, depend on you, trust you. And when you are in that position you do what you can to keep their world intact, and you do it with grace. I apologize to the ones I offended or disappointed. I’m sorry for forgetting how important it is for us to hold our tribe together.

Sometimes you lose track of what others expect of you, or what you expect of yourself. With the loss of my daughter, I lost a lot of my expectations. The biggest one was that children would outlive their parents. There were others:

The expectation that life will return to normal. That there ever was a normal in life.
That grief has an ending point, that at some time we should reach the end of our grief.
That one day you will be the same person you used to be. That one could ever be the same person she was before losing her heart.
That the first year of grieving is the worst. That time heals all wounds.
That if I followed all the rules and did what was right, everything would turn out okay.

That I would always complete my photo-illustration before putting it out on the Internet for all to see.

So much for what we believed.

You were expecting something joyful here? You’ve been so patient, putting up with my moping through the last weeks. There is some good news: We don’t have to worry or fret over any of this. Expectations – I’m pretty sure that’s one of those things our president-elect is working hard to rescind.


What expectations have you come to let go of?


Share Button

5 thoughts on “Expectations

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I once asked my teacher Anthony Damiani how he put up with all his students who asked him whether or not to break up with a girlfriend or leave a dog at the kennel or get a dog sitter. He was usually patient, so I asked how he managed that. “I lower my expectations,” he said. I’ve used that line so many times.

    Holidays are hard. I haven’t figured out a way to make them easier. This year I thought about going south, but couldn’t leave my mother-in-law without family and my NC son felt he needed to see his grandma, maybe for the last time (famous last words in her case). I cooked a lot and put lots of the food in the freezer, but then we didn’t use half of it so I sent it off with my son and his wife to NC. We did minimal holiday dinners on paper plates in Virginia’s McGraw House apartment rather than the family feasts we had years ago. We made an antipasto when we got home on Christmas Eve, drank a glass of wine, and went to bed early.

    Thank you for being honestly you. I count on that. I’m not sure my expectations can get much lower for the political sphere, but 2 cardinals came to the birdfeeder today and the icestorm passed me by and my house is warm and I have plenty of food and an unfinished bottle of wine. Can’t expect more than that.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Well, as wretched as the minimal holiday feast on paper plates sounds, SOMEone must have gotten a good high off it. I’m guessing it wasn’t you, as you’ve had a few more than expected holidays spent in this manner to really feel the warmth at this point. Gotta keep in mind it won’t always be this way. And then we also have to consider that some time in the not-too-distant future, WE ourselves could be the ones not able to chew or tolerate salt, hobbling around McGraw House, oblivious to the efforts made by our children and their children to give us a holiday treat. And that’s if we’re lucky.
      And something tells me we’re gonna need more than luck in the political sphere. Yep, better to focus on the small things that are close at hand. The few things we CAN control. The things we know for sure we can count on. Birds, maybe. Bad weather, often. Spring coming, eventually. Tylenol. The dog letting us know it’s time for dinner.

  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, I’m with you. If I don’t want to celebrate a holiday any more, I’m not going to.

    Ah, if we could only cure ourselves of having expectations!

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Right now, Lynne, I’m getting a little tired of having all my expectations dashed. Expectations, I’m finding, are the warm protective linings of my comfort zone.

  3. Monica Sword

    Expectations, misunderstanding them, or having them misrepresented has gotten me in hot water more than once. Ultimately, it comes down to good communication but when I’m feeling low emotionally or feeling conflicted communicating well goes out the window. Speaking for myself, I don’t expect to see joy in your writing or art any more than I expect people to assume I think life is always pretty since my site is named ‘life is a pretty word’. I love your authentic emotional intelligence and honesty, Robin. All the best to you during these trying times.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *