When I was 15, I had my whole life mapped out.
I’d be married by 25. Within a couple of years, I’d have a daughter, and then a son.
When I hit 30, I’d go back to school to get my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. By then, I should have already gotten enough writing experience, and gone through enough life experiences, for me to be able to fully appreciate the program. Then I’d go on to publish my first novel before hitting 40.
I was a little girl with big dreams who grew into a teenager with a plan.
In a few days, I will turn 33.
True to my expectation, I have indeed gotten married, but that didn’t happen until I was 28. The baby came first, when I was 23. And I had a son. I have no daughter, but that’s fine. I’m enjoying being mom to a boy.
My pot of life experiences is filling up fast, which is great because that means that life has been great. My writing resume isn’t too shabby. I know for sure that I’d be able to appreciate the Creative Writing Master’s program that I’m gunning for, if only I could afford it.
One thing that I failed to consider when I was 15 was how much it would actually cost to send a child to school, and how expensive a Master’s Education can be.
And then, there are all of these other things.
At 15, I had no idea how hard it was to be married. I didn’t know what it meant to meet halfway. I thought that there would always be a clear winner in each argument. I didn’t think that not going to bed angry could mean tearful discussions that would last until 3:00 in the morning.
I didn’t have a clue that parenting would be as challenging as I now know it to be. I thought that it would be so cute to have two children who are close in age, just like my brother and I. I didn’t realize that having one child is challenging enough already. I had no idea that I would someday find myself at the receiving end of eye-rolling and snide remarks that just happen to sound a whole lot like my 10-year old self.
I believed back then that if you were good at something it wouldn’t be difficult to find a job in your desired field. I never thought about how much of success comes from actual hard work, that luck actually plays a huge part in it all, and that being easy to work with sometimes matters more than what you can actually do.
I went from being a naïve teenager with a plan to becoming an adult with (at least a little bit of) wisdom.
I’ve learned a lot about life in between my 15th and 33rd birthdays.
I know that you should always expect the unexpected. And I mean, always. Life is full of curve balls and somewhere along the way things won’t go as planned.
I believe that the trick is to keep moving forward, and to always look on the bright side of life even when there seems to be no bright side. I understand now that the tough times are there to make the good ones shine even brighter.
Our hearts can handle infinite amounts of heartache brought about by people whom we truly care about. I know this for sure. I also know that these same people, if they love us as much as we love them, will be the same ones to mend those little breaks in our hearts.
I may have proven my teenage-self wrong on many different counts, but I do still believe in dreaming big dreams and planning for the life that we want for ourselves.
We may not be able to accomplish all that we want to do within the deadlines we set for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Things may not happen the way we want them to all the time, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop working on becoming the person we’ve always known we could be.
In spite of it all, and despite life’s struggles, the one thing that we ought to do is never give up on ourselves.
Based on the plan I had set for myself all those years ago, I still have seven years to get that book out. How that will go remains to be seen…!
How has your expectation differed from your reality? Are you close to where you thought you would be at this time of your life?
This is an original post for World Moms Network by Mrs. P. Cuyugan. Photo credit: Jurgen P. Appelo. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
I’m sharing today a letter to my daughters but not just to my daughters, to all your daughters as well. Come on Mums and join me in being the antidote to the norms and expectations of our society. Please make sure you celebrate your girls for who they are and not how they look. Let’s commit to sometimes going without make-up, to never talking down to ourselves and to often making a fool of ourselves in the name of fun. Only when we lead the way can our young daughters know it is OK for them to be truly comfortable in their own skin and to be able to say “I am beautiful and accepted just the way I am”.
Dear beautiful girls,
You are nearly nine years old, still young, still with so much life ahead of you but sadly already you want to be grown up. To be able to go out alone with your friends, to have your ears pierced, to wear high heels and to dye your hair.
I know it is fun to think about how life will change as you mature and to picture what a future boyfriend, house or car might look like and that’s OK. We can all dream, it is good to dream but it is also good and right to enjoy the moment. To be content to be nearly nine, to take the time to cherish playing with your dolls, going on bike rides, crafting treasures and making camps.
My heart bleeds when I see you try on an outfit and look at yourself in the mirror and then take it off and throw it on the floor as you feel it doesn’t look good. You see it hug your beautiful little fleshy tummy which is just part of how your body is changing as you grow. It must be so hard to be only eight but to have the height and body of a twelve year old. I understand where the discord comes from but I want to assure you, that you are beautiful just the way you are.
God made you in His image and He doesn’t make mistakes. Each one of us is unique, we come with our own gifting’s and looks and that makes the world a really rich place. I know it is a cliché but honestly, it would be boring if everyone was the same. What I need more than anything, girls, is for you to be sure of who you are. What makes you you? Let’s figure that out and then cling to it. Hang on to your sense of self for dear life as the trouble, the downward spiral comes when you get sucked into the media lies that there is one prescription for beauty.
Over the years this perception of the perfect woman has changed: in the 50’s it was all about the hourglass figure, by the 80’s we had the Amazonian supermodels and today the desire is to be size zero. You do not have to follow the trends, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. You tell me I am beautiful and you know I am far larger than the average woman, you adore your Nan but also talk of her ‘crinkly’ face and one of the most beautiful woman I know has a massive scar on her face but her sunny disposition and kindness shines through.
Let me just assure you that it won’t be make-up, hair colour, tanned skin or a slim body that mean you are beautiful; it will be the traits you show that make up who you are and what you are about. Miss E your desire to protect your twin, your creative streak, your dry sense of humour, your love of snuggles and your hunger for what is right are just a few of the things that make you truly gorgeous.
Miss M, for you it is your passion, your willingness to challenge authority, your soft vulnerable side that you don’t often show, your generosity and your sense of fun that draw people to you. Those things are beautiful. They are the things that make me proud to say I am your mother and because I’m Mum I sometimes have to make myself unpopular and remind you that you can’t buy those shoes or wear that very short skirt as it is my job to keep you safe and to help you enjoy your childhood.
So yes girls, sometimes you are going to think I am the worst mum ever and you might cry and you might scream at me as you think you are old enough to make your own decisions and to follow what the world is saying is current right now but for me what will always be in fashion is you. The authentic and true spirit of my special little girls. When you choose to be true to yourself and perhaps step outside the crowd you are beautiful.
I couldn’t be more proud of the wonderful young women that you are growing into.
Love you so much, Mummy xx
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Mom, Michelle Pannell from the UK, who blogs at Mummy from the Heart and Progress Not Perfection.
You might think otherwise, but in truth, no one owes you anything. Not God, not your spouse, not your parents, not your kids, not your friends or your colleagues. Seriously, no one owes you a single thing.
I don’t think any one of us go about our days consciously assuming that we’re owed anything, yet we somehow unknowingly end up behaving in a way that says just that.
We live lives full of expectations. We’ve come to expect certain things, certain behaviors and certain reactions. And because we’ve come to expect those things, we unwittingly end up feeling entitled to them. Then, when we don’t get them, we feel upset and short changed.
How many times have I gotten upset with my kids for not doing their chores? How many times have I snapped at my husband because I felt I didn’t get the reaction I hoped for? How many times have I gotten annoyed at someone?
Yes, I feel that my kids should have responsibility. Yes, I wish my husband could read my mind. (Or maybe not.) Yes, I wish people would be more polite. But they’re not the problem.
The problem is expectations and the false notion that people think we need them. When you have an expectation, you’re putting forth a demand. Is that the way to manage any type of a relationship? To demand something from the other party?
An expectation is one sided. We don’t need to live lives filled with demands.
So what do we need? We need hopes and wishes. We need reciprocity in the form of cooperation and partnership.
In the example of my kids and their chores. My wish is for teamwork. Being part of the family means being part of the team, a team that helps the family function as it should both physically and emotionally. Not because I want them to do it for me personally, but for the good of the whole unit.
In marriage or in any type of a relationship you’re looking for cooperation and partnership as well as mutual understanding. You wish for good and by wishing for good instead of expecting or demanding it, you can find the good and are grateful for what you have.
You have to earn love or respect or kindness. Demanding them will get you nowhere fast. When a relationship is a loving one, not one based on debts, people will be more likely to want to be there for you.
Learning that you’re not owed anything doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat or be treated badly. It means you have a choice and can decide what relationships and actions belong in your life. You don’t demand things from other and you don’t transfer the blame or responsibility on others. You decide what is right for you. You decide to see all the things to be grateful for.
Love can only be unconditional when you earn it but don’t feel you’re owed it.
Can you imagine how many of the world’s problems would vanish if we all believed that we aren’t owed anything and took responsibility for ourselves and our actions.
Do you think you are owed anything?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel. You can find her on her blog New Day New Lesson.
Photo credit to Susie Mayerfeld
My swim coach is in her mid to late twenties and she’s engaged to be married. On several occasions, I’ve noticed from the way she talks, that she does not seem to be happy in her relationship. Today, I didn’t see her engagement ring on her finger so I asked her about it. She said she had taken it off because she was afraid of losing it in the swimming pool.
I mentioned that I thought she had broken up and she confided that she had been on the verge of doing so the day before. She looked so sad and I understand how she feels. She is desperate and disappointed, she loved her fiancé but as he doesn’t show his love she said that she doesn’t feel anything for him anymore and she believes that sooner or later the relationship will be over.
I found myself telling her to think only about her happiness and about making herself the first priority in her life, that she must stop being the only one to give and that she has the right to receive. I expressed concern that by being the only one giving in a relationship, she may find herself, after a few years, frustrated, disappointed and unable to give anymore.
While talking to her, I found myself thinking about how women in my community, as well as in many other communities, grow up with the belief that a woman is created to only give. Everybody around her expects to receive yet no one thinks about what she needs or that she even has needs that must be met. A woman’s role is to make everybody happy even if she is not. Her husband, her children and even her parents expect a lot from her but no one cares about what she expects.
For many long years, I lived with the people surrounding me expecting too much from me. I was giving so much but at a certain point I could not go any farther. I could not accept the idea of burning myself for others while nobody thought about me. My reaction was a little bit aggressive. I could not bear anymore the idea of being a good girl, good wife and good mother.
Being good to my parents meant being obedient to my mother even if she was intruding on my personal life and imposing her beliefs as to what I need to do and what I should not do. Being good to my husband meant I had to take responsibility for everything, take care of his needs, be kind to him, work, and take care of the house all the while never having my needs met. Being a good mother meant taking care of the kids’ needs, studies, training and entertainment.
You may ask why my husband didn’t do his share in all of this? The answer is that we have different values and backgrounds so he always said that none of those things are his priorities, so if I wanted them I had to do it myself. For years I did, but after nine years I exploded and that was a turning point in my life. I got divorced and I lived, as a single mom, with my kids, for five years. Those years were the transformation years.
I finally realized what my mistake was. I was not making myself a priority. I was allowing everybody to make decisions for me. I was not happy yet I was expected to make others happy. I never thought about my needs, I was only focusing on the needs of my family. I reached a point where I couldn’t give love anymore. How could I do that with my emotional tank empty? To give love to others you need to get your emotional tank refilled. Only then will you be able to give love to everybody around you.
It took me years and I’m still working on it, learning to constantly refill my emotional tank from different resources in order to be able to give . That’s exactly what I told my lovely and kind swimming coach in my conversation with her today. Get your emotional tank refilled, do your best to find your own satisfaction and fulfillment. Do whatever you can to make yourself happy. Only then will you be able to give love to others . You will feel happy even if you don’t receive love from others because you already have your tank refilled.
I really sympathize with women in my community because they are taught lies about what it means to be a good wife and good mother and they believe it. They live internally unhappy but do not dare to object or ask for what they need. They feel that they must accept what they’re given. They are looking for approval from others and they are afraid to reject the beliefs they were bought up on.
What beliefs in your community hurt women’s well being yet they don’t dare to reject them?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Nihad from Alexandria, Egypt. Nihad blogs at Aurora Beams Life Coaching.
Image courtesy of “Young Woman Under Depression” by David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I clearly remember (as a young first-time mother struggling with my son’s colic and projectile vomiting) being told by other mothers; “Oh, that’s nothing, just you wait until he hits the Terrible Twos!”
That colicky baby turned 21 last month, and I have learnt a few things along the way! First and foremost, children tend to live up to our expectations (even our subconscious expectations). If you’re sure that you will experience the “Terrible Twos” chances are better than fair that you will. The sad thing is that most parents don’t know that it doesn’t have to be that way!
Every child is unique, and every parent-child relationship is different, that’s why there are as many parenting styles and beliefs as there are parents. That said, most parenting sites and blogs tend to reinforce certain ideas (like that of the Terrible Toddler years and Terrible Teen years) so that new parents accept them as being inevitable stages of life.
“Robert Rosenthal brought to public attention a powerful type of self-fulfilling prophecy, in a classic experiment about the expectations of teachers (Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968). In the experiment, all the students in a class were given a standard IQ test. After the results were scored, the researchers informed the teachers that five students in the class had unusually high IQ scores and would probably be “spurters” who leaped ahead of their classmates during the remainder of the year. In reality, the five children were picked at random. By the end of the year, all the children had gained in IQ, but the five “spurters” had gained much more than other students. Evidently the teachers treated them differently after being told to expect sudden improvement.”
Since 1968 many similar experiments to the one cited above have been carried out.
“Rosenthal notes that the expectancy effect has been documented in business management (where the biasing effect is the expectations of employers about their employees), in courtrooms (where the biasing effect is the expectations about the defendant’s guilt or innocence), and in nursing homes (where the biasing effect is the expectation that a patient will get better or worse).
In all cases, the expectations tend to come true, whether they are based on any objective evidence or not.
Apparently, as a general rule, people make their expectations come true. Rosenthal’s research shows the Pygmalion effect is not only important; it is robust. It is a strong effect that occurs in many situations.”
I believed in the “Terrible Twos” with my son (because I didn’t know any better) and we battled for 2 years! By the time my daughter was born, I’d learnt a lot, and I believed we wouldn’t have any trouble at all … guess what, we didn’t! We also haven’t experienced any of the unpleasantness that some believe is unavoidable during the pre-teen, teen and early adulthood years.
Given the above, I feel that the Terrible Twos and Terrible Teens are only fact if you believe them to be!
Can you think of ways in which your children have lived up to your expectations? Do you believe that by expecting a different result you can create a different result?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.