My own life has changed hugely in many ways over the past ten years and any change – even the most positive – is often joined by feelings of anxiety and loss. Thinking back ten years, I am reminded of being a mum to two children under three. Having (successfully?) avoided marriage and children until the grand age of 37 (I know!), motherhood hit me like a breezeblock thrown out of a skyscraper (Which some did for fun where I grew up – to this day, I still give tower blocks a wide berth). There were so many expectations around motherhood and having, selfishly, spent most of my life pleasing no-one but me, I found the whole experience overwhelming.
Be a fun friend.
Tonight, I’m thinking about expectations again. I’ve spent quite a bit of time this past week worrying about what to do tonight. Surely, ‘normals’ go out, have friends, have fun. We have no plans beyond a takeaway and a film. A teeny bit of me has been upset by this – there is still a young party girl inside of me, whingeing to be let out and show off her pint drinking skills (in a one-er). People expect me to do ‘the worm’ (cue eye roll emoticon, because I don’t do anything to discourage it). Growing up (yes, still) can be painful – it’s hard to let go.
It’s not just me; some people expect me still to be that girl. I see the disappointment in their eyes (or is it mine, reflected in theirs) when I’m sensible instead. Sigh.
Be a knowledgable headteacher
My life journey and career have moulded me a skin I haven’t quite grown into. There are expectations of 48-year-old headteachers. (The same is true at pub quizzes: ‘Come on, you’re a headteacher. You should know this one!’) This often leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed and a bit sad. What? Know all the answers AND mould our future generations into kind, purposeful, successful individuals and societies?
Be a fabulous wife
It’s also our wedding anniversary. Cue: ‘What did you get? Where are you going to celebrate? Didn’t you even send each other a card?’ Nothing. Nowhere. And No. I am honestly grateful for Andy everyday. Except I’m keeping it real by saying that sometimes, he gets right on my chuff.
Be a thoughtful mum
And then there’s the mum I’m supposed to be. I must do something with the kids. I must make it memorable, fun, and filled with people. We must join in. We must belong. Except, to my surprise, both of our children breathed a sigh of relief when I suggested just ‘cosying up’ this New Year. To be fair, when they did, so did I.
I haven’t become a bore, and I can hear my mate, Brene Brown, saying, “Fitting in is not belonging.” What are these expectations we feel governed by, and why do they hold so much power over our happiness?
I’ve just changed, gradually and slowly. The things I was passionate about ten years ago, no longer excite me. Tonight, I am passionate about a takeaway and watching ‘The Two Popes’ (which comes highly recommended) and cuddling up with my family, cats, dog, teapot and wine glass. I sit now, typing, thinking and looking around our family ‘hygge’* – bliss. I am grateful for so much.
And, being down with the kids, I am (so they tell me) experiencing JOMO*.
Whatever you are doing, I wish you and yours a blessed 2020. May you be open to whatever Christos* brings into your life.
*hygge : a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
*Joy Of Missing Out
*Christos. I love this term. Richard Rohr explains: Christ is not Jesus’ second name. Christos is the blueprint for the life of the universe. A life lived ‘en Christos’ is a life lived in the joy of God.