My children weary me. I can only see them as defective adults. —Evelyn Waugh—
If we expect children to behave as adults, of course we will find them tiresome. If we expect water to be milk, we will be continually disappointed. But since we can control and direct our expectations why should we set ourselves up for such inevitable annoyances? But we do.
We are constantly expecting things unreasonably, and then being disappointed, shocked, heartbroken, and betrayed. It would be so much more rational simply to take things as they come, without expectations But that would involve a degree of detachment that most of us would find impossible—even repulsive. It would mean unhooking our feelings from other people’s behavior. “But I care about her” We say. “Of course I want her to…” It doesn’t much matter what we want her to do; get married, get divorced, brush her teeth at night, or come in before midnight. What matters is our involvement, our expectations. We can care about her and still not feel hurt by her actions that may not be what we want. Hurtful actions are another matter; but she has a right to be who she is, just as we all do. My expectations today will be only for myself.