October 23, 2012

What the world expects

It wasn’t until my 29th year that I realised I was here to do two things. To share what I knew about loss (from the people who spoke to me) and to be a mum.

I had a boss that used to tell me that she was a frustrated sociologist. We’d deconstruct the people that sat around us. We tried to understand what their purpose was, we’d laugh hysterically at peoples little ‘isms and try to work out what led to their delightful public service-y-ness. Cardigans were mandatory. I currently have a wardrobe full.

My daughter turns seven in 11 days. Research tells us that at 7 a child is beginning to understand who they are and where they sit in the world. The power of expectation is felt and the temperament of that child allows the rubber band of resilience to stretch and flex as a way of building their tool kit of coping strategies.

I dont remember turning 7. I must have been in Year 2, I have no idea who my teacher was, I remember the classroom up on the second floor but the rest is hazy. Perhaps my rubber band wasnt being stretched too much?  The power of expectation is something we battle internally and externally. Now more than ever, as I try to finish up the last snippets of 3 chapters for my PhD upgrade what I push down on the inside squeezes up and bubbles over. For me as a parent its about trying to dull down the power because I don’t want to squash whats slowly emerging from the small people that surround me.

There is always a space between pushing and pulling back, of wanting more for your kids but then wanting to do it for them. You want them to explore their own potential and to grow into their destiny. Its a continual ebb and flow.

I have some idea of where I sit in the world, I don’t  feel pressure from those around me, its completely self inflicted which maybe means my parents had the right balance of push and pull when it came to allowing me to grow wonkily (yes thats a word) into my own temperament. Although considering my mum points out my taurean stubbornness at least 11 times a week perhaps she had no choice but to pull back and let it all play out. It was for her own safety.

The fantastic longitudinal study of Australian kids is currently looking at what it means to be 7. Im fascinated and envious of the researchers, of being able to watch families juggle challenges and changes and grief and loss and the way that, in spite of all of these, the little personalities of the kids shine through regardless of what we might want them to be. What their parents or society want them to be.

Not long to go now my baby girl. Not long until the big day. I wont say that you will be an amazing big person because Ill let you decide that but what I do know is that you are as amazing as any  7 year old can be (and no, I am not paying for singing lessons next year in case you want to ask me again).

Do you feel that the world has told you what it expects of you?

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. I know exactly who I wanted to be at 7 right down to the smell of the carpet in that grade 2 classroom. And although it’s about 3km from my home office where I now sit, it’s quite a way from where I am although I like to think I’m coming around to it.
    We’ve been watching the ABC series on being 7. It’s so fascinating, especially as our eldest is about six months behind the kids in the study. It gives us a glimpse of what lies ahead.

    • It does give a glimpse doesnt it. Helps me work out my own inner workings as well as think about there ones. Dont sniff too much carpet – its not good for the soul.

  2. There’s always been a space in my mind between what the world expects from me and who I am. I’ve always done the “expected” thing. More & more now I’m growing into not only who I am, but why the Universe put me here. And that’s very different from what has been expected.

    • I wonder if thats also a by product of being a woman too Jo? Of doing what is expected, sometime being a mum also limits your powers of doing what you want. Especially when small people are small. And I agree – doing what is expected and what the grand plan is are two different things.

  3. My daughter is turning 7 in November. You are right it is such a special age. They are on the cusp of no longer being a little girl, but not yet a big one.
    I also agree that as Mum’s we are always treading the fine line of raising our kids and shaping them. A fine line.
    I’m no longer searching for what the world expects from me, it comes from within so I’m searching in there, always.

  4. For me, I’ve always been aware of what the world (ok, let’s narrow that down – those around me) expect of me and there’s a massive gap between the Nat they expect me to be and the Nat I am. I have never done what’s expected of me, I’ve always done what I want regardless of expectations. I studied a completely different field than people expected me to (I’m in marketing, I was expected to be a music teacher) and I live a completely different life than was expected (and wanted) by those around me. But I’m happy where I am in life. I learnt very early on, that the only expectations that will truly make me happy are those I set for myself to help achieve my goals.

    Funnily enough though, I was talking to my Grandma only yesterday & we got talking about my childhood and she told me stories of me growing up and she mentioned that she realised from quite a young age that I wasn’t going to be the person everyone was trying to mould me into. And yes, you guessed it, that “young age” was 7!!!

    • Funny Nat, I’m the opposite and it warms my heart to know that you were such a determined girl from the word go. I wish I had been more like that. It’s taken me until my 30s and motherhood to grow into myself. Kudos to you.

      • Aww, thank you Karen!!

        Determination (and a side serve of being stubborn) is what got me to where I am today. Without having more determination than I do brain cells, I would have ended up following others’ expectations and would be a totally different person.

        I’m glad you’ve grown into yourself & regardless how long it took, you got there. Kudos to you too! x

  5. At 7 I wanted to be something fabulously creative like an artist or an Oscar winning actress. ( I also wanted to be the blonde chick from ABBA but my bestie bagged that position first ). I ended up in the finance industry and never felt 100% comfortable there. I guess the weight of expectations teamed with my Virgoan practical streak lead me down that unsatisfying path. My own girls are 5 and 3. I’m just living in the moment with them. They are bright and happy kids and one cant ask for much more than that.

    • Bright and happy is the two best things about being little and not having to work out what lay ahead. Did you get a chance to escape the path that you didnt want to travel?? x


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