I Expect….

Out of all the expectations in the world, I think the worst are what we expect of ourselves. We expect to be smart and savvy. Do well at school, succeed at work or career. Be beautiful and stylish. Get married and have children. Be the greatest parents in the history of parenting. Just look at social media: pinterest is successful because of our need to have picture perfect lives. Facebook and Instagram allow us to peak at other lives, causing us all to have….expectations of ourselves.

We all do it to a certain degree- we want a nicely appointed room to entertain people in, or serve a gorgeous dinner, throw a themed party. We want things to be just so. No matter unrealistic our expectations get. No matter how secure we are, the Jones family is right over there with there perfect green grass….

I like to think that I am somewhat level headed. I don’t really covet thy neighbors goods (though Diane carved up a chicken on her blog yesterday and I was a little envious of how she took it apart) If I really want to do something, I generally get it done: I have my lists and plans and bucket lists, and I try to keep it real.

Great.

But I’m still having my weight issues.

See, this is where my Facebook envy comes in. I don’t look enviously at the lives of others. Facebook has this annoying habit of showing us “Remember” pictures.

Oh how I hate to see pictures of me from seven years ago.

Up until I was 50 I was a not thin but not heavy person. I was reasonably content with how I looked and how I felt about how I looked.

I don’t look like that anymore.

I am not happy that I don’t look like that anymore.

Menopause didn’t give me hot flashes, or moodiness, or the majority of the symptoms that go along with it. But…it slowed down my reasonably fast metabolism to that of a sloth…

And the weight came on….

I exercise daily. In fact, I am presently in my gym shorts and tank top and will be hitting the gym after I hit publish. (sidenote- I often read blogs on the elliptical, so if a response is ever total gibberish you know it’s because I can’t step and type- Claudette has taken to warning me if any post might make me trip….)

So yes: gym- check.

I walk everywhere and exceed the 10,000 step thing. I take the stairs. Blah blah blah.

I eat just like I did before.

Ha.

That’s the problem: I love food. I love cooking. I love trying new things. I continue to do all these things because I love them. Alas, they don’t love my body. Food mocks me now, like a bad ex boyfriend showing all his pictures on Facebook…

My love of food has collided with my love of weighing less.

I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to break up with food.

I have unreasonable expectations of my post menopause body. I expect it to do all the same things it did before, and because it doesn’t I get mad. I am mad at my metabolism for letting me down. I am mad at food for being so yummy. I am mad at cooking because it’s so much fun.

I need to get my expectations in line with one of these things. I just don’t know which one it will be.

The Relationship Post Mortem

I spoke of my friend yesterday, and how she doesn’t love the relationship that her daughter is in. The update is, the boyfriend broke up with the girlfriend on Monday (coincidently right after his graduation weekend)

You would think my friend would be relieved, which she is, sort of. Of course her first thought was – “I wish I knew why he broke up with her.” (of course my first nasty thought was – maybe his Mother didn’t like her- I know- I’m bad)

So here’s the question for today:

Do we really want to know why someone ended a relationship?

There are millions of reasons why two people break up. My sister once ended a relationship because she didn’t like the way he brushed his tongue. Some are tangible, logical reasons: they drink too much, they live too far away, they don’t treat me well. We can put a name to these: there is one specific thing that makes the relationship not good. But what about when there is no “big” reason?

Ok- the boyfriend broke up with the girlfriend. What if the reason is seemingly silly, like the tongue brushing thing. Do you need to know that a guy thinks you have some little quirk that is harmless but a problem for them? What if a woman thinks you have a hobby that is silly? What’s the point of knowing? Are you going to change?

See- that’s my thought: Is knowing why someone broke up with you beneficial? Are you going to stop the behavior they don’t like, or start doing something that they do like? Or in general- will it be a catalyst to some sort of change? Will it make you think about yourself more clearly? Or will it make you feel bad about who you are?

In theory, I guess there’s something to closure. I broke up with you because of A, B, C, F and G. Thank you next. But how much time are you going to spend dissecting the reasons? Are you going to question why you behave that way? Are you going to overanalyze your characteristics to the point you question everything you do? Are you going to beg the other person to come back because you vow to change?

Do you need to change because someone doesn’t want to continue dating you?

We also have my favorite answer to why I’m breaking up with you:

It’s not you, it’s me.

Is there a worse line in the history of stories we tell one another?

What does that even mean? It’s not you, it’s me. Why would you ever say that to anyone? Is that an actual reason to stop dating someone? I’d rather someone not tell me a reason than to say that tired, tired, lame excuse. Don’t insult my intelligence.

Of course, there is one step lower than INYIM: ghosting. When did it become acceptable behavior to just stop communicating with someone? And I don’t mean after one date- I mean people that have been in a relationship and then just cease communication. Did people start ghosting to get out of explaining why they no longer want to date someone? Did the relationship post mortem expectation become so intense that people feel it’s easier and better to just walk away?

I know I threw a lot at you today. But what are your post break up expectations?

 

 

Really?

I was talking to a friend the other day- the incident she was talking about and the ensuing discussions have been tossing around in my mind for awhile. I still don’t know how I’m going to express my ideas today, so bear with me. I know there will be a point eventually.

My friends 19 year old college daughter was dating a guy she knew in High School. They didn’t date in hs, but were “best friends” ( I italicize this because that is probably going to be a whole other blog). While they were at two separate colleges in two separate states that are reasonably far apart for a college student they decided to begin dating.

The dating began a few months ago- with girl A going to visit boy B. Fine. He then asked her to come back for his frat formal in April and then again for his graduation in May. Let’s start out with how much grief this caused my friend. She did not understand why her daughter was going to either of these events. I looked at her: why wouldn’t a guy want his girlfriend to be at these events? And why wouldn’t the girl want to go?

Well, it turned out this was all a red herring. She didn’t care about the events. She just doesn’t like the guy. Apparently he’s a history major (the shame and the horror) and he’s not going to go to law school (NOOOO) and his parents are questionable. They make too much money and go to the Caribbean too much. (Can you imagine New Yorkers wanting to go to the tropics? For shame) And the big thing was – “he doesn’t have ambition. He’s not a go getter like my daughter.” Side note- perfectly nice girl, lots of adjectives to describe her but go getter is not one I would add to the list. And then the kicker: “How will he support my daughter?”

See- she was already thinking they’d get married. Because, you know, they were dating for three months in college.  And that is surely exactly what every 19 and 21 year old are thinking. (sidenote- my friend married her first real boyfriend from college- unsuccessfully I might add)

so…

Are we allowed to have expectations of who our children date? Are we allowed to have expectations of how those relationships will play out? Outside of abusive relationships, do we have the right to tell out children who they can and can not date?

My Husband is Jewish and I am Catholic. I think both sets of parents would have preferred that we married within our actual faiths. They didn’t say anything directly, but there have been some passive aggressive references from my Mother in Law over the years. Trust me: she is not thrilled that we put Christmas decorations up. I know this because she actually said “Why are there Christmas things up?” She has commented about how we eat ham on Easter (from the woman who lives on bacon, but all of a sudden its bad to eat pork….) I am pretty positive she is not happy about my daughter attending a Catholic college….

My MIL expected her son to marry a Jewish girl. Is this wrong?

My friend expects her daughter to marry the first guy she’s in a relationship? Wrong?

My friend expects her daughter to marry someone who will make a lot of money. Is this wrong?

What can and should we expect from the pairings our children make?

Here’s My Expectation

You know my daughters going to college, right?

Ok Ok- this is not about my daughter and her journey. But it does talk about the path we had to take.

In Manhattan, we don’t have zoned schools- Kids apply to High School. As there are different types of students, there are different types of high schools. My daughters is selective, meaning middle school grades and tests count, and is also considered college prep- the entire curriculum is based upon getting into a four year college. So basically, it’s a school of smart driven kids, backed by smart driven parents.

Oh the parents.

The parents enter this school with delusions of grandeur. Every parent assumes that there kid is going to a “sweatshirt” school- a school so recognizable that pretty much everyone has heard of it, and is sure to remark ‘Oh- that’s a good school” (whether or not they actually know anything about it)

You’ve heard me talk about how hard these sweatshirt schools are to get into, the majority being an acceptance rate of 30% or below. And you heard me talk about how many colleges my daughter and her classmates got rejected from. (FYI- the salutatorian from my daughters school is going to her “likely” school because she was rejected from everything else- so what does a 99GPA and a 35 on the ACT get you anyway?)

I know a Mom who has a son at my daughters school. The son is smart with decent grades and decent ACT score. He does his homework and he goes to class, but he puts in less than medium effort into anything. He did the minimum hours of community service required, and has no extras. None. So when his Mother went to the meeting with the college counselor, the counselor told him he should really consider early decision, and really be careful of what schools he chose, because you know, you need to be realistic. This scared the Mother so her son did indeed apply to a school ED, and was accepted. Done deal.

Now let me say that he got into a really good school- top hundred no matter what survey you look at. Kids get jobs and into graduate school after finishing there. Solid school.

The Mother is not happy. I mean she is really pissy about the school he is going to. Her EXPECTATION is that her son is way better than this school. The reality is that this school is exactly where he belongs- and honestly- he’s lucky he got into it.

Here’s the thing about expectations: they need to have some logical basis. Yes- her son is smart. He had a nice average. But in the world of competitive academics, that’s not enough. You need to stand out.

Everyone thinks their child is the best thing in the world. That’s the way it’s supposed to be: in your heart you are supposed to think that there is no one better than your kid. But in your head….well..in your head you have to know exactly how your kids compares to everyone else so that you can help them achieve their best life. You need to figure out what you can do to help your child succeed at whatever is important to them. This is not the time for blinders and excuses.

This Mom does tend to make excuses for why her son doesn’t do things. It’s so hard to find a volunteer job, how can the teacher expect that of someone, etc. In your head you can’t keep making excuses for your kid. You have to accept the personality that they have and work with it to bring out their high points. You can’t expect them to be something they’re not.

Parental attitude also matters. Now that all the kids have accepted spots in colleges, the paperwork begins. First up: orientation. Many colleges are now adopting pre-orientation programs. They have different areas of interest: some are leadership based, or do community service or just do some sort of survival thing in the woods. They’re done to give kids the opportunity to meet some of their classmates before official orientation. Some of these programs cost money. My Daughter is going to try to do one (her college makes you apply to them) This particular Mom doesn’t want her son to do it because it’s a “scam” to get money. Now, I have a different version of “scam”. I think a “scam” is where you pay for something but get nothing in return. I think of the pre-orientation as an opportunity. And we don’t turn down opportunities in this house. These programs are a chance to learn about something you might not know about. She has told her son that these things are a waste. How does she expect her son to be a doer when she has blocked that path for him?

You can’t make excuses and complain about things that others are doing and still expect your kid to compete with the others. If you’re in a tower building contest and one person has fifty bricks and good quality cement, and you have five bricks and spit, how can you expect to compete?

When you have expectations of your child with regards to schooling, you have to make sure your expectations are reasonable. The main goal is helping your child reach their best life, no matter what path that is. Don’t expect your kid to be something they’re not. That’s only going to breed unhappiness.

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

My niece and nephew (twins)  recently had their B’Nai Mitzvah.  But when you plan this type of event, you must do it way in advance because kids are required to have prepared Torah passages, and most people I know do not speak conversational Hebrew.  So we, the family and friends, have known the date for years.

Years.

So, my mother in law and father in law have been talking about this for years.

Years.

Every conversation with them would start with “Can’t wait for the mitzvah.”  The middle of every conversation would include something about the mitzvah.  And every conversation would end with “Don’t forget the mitzvah will be here soon.”  And I get the grandparent thing.  They’re excited to share the religion with the offspring of their offspring (my daughter is not being raised to follow either Catholicism or Judaism- so the had no such joy from our household) Yet, it is also a case of having absolutely nothing else going on in their lives.  Nothing.  They have no hobbies.  They have few friends.  They have absolutely nothing to look forward to.

So here’s lesson number one: make sure you have at least one hobby that you enjoy.  When faced with the questions, “Why do I need to get out of bed today?” make sure it’s because you have something you can’t wait to do.  And it could literally be anything.  Set a goal to “walk” to China by counting your steps every day.  Watch every Cary Grant movie ever made.  Volunteer anyplace.  You’re getting the idea:  hobbies don’t have to cost a lot of money.

As of now, my in laws hobbies are: annoying my husband, annoying my sister in law, complaining about my husband and sister in law, complaining about their friends/neighbors, complaining about other relations and complaining about me.  They clearly need to find something else to do until the date is set for the Bar Mitzvah of my other nephew.

Now, let’s get to the next part of the issue: What happens when you talk about something for two years, when you look forward to something at the exclusion of everything else?  What happens when you build up something to epic proportions?

We had to go to Temple services the evening before.  my Mother in Law fell asleep during the Rabbi’s talk.  And not just a little doze: she tilted totally to the side, and if the benches did not have little separators, she would have fallen to the left.  Did I mention she snorts when she sleeps?

When we got to Temple the next morning, the first thing my Sister in Law said to us was ‘Please go sit with Dad cause he’s in a snit.” When we sat in row with him, he started complaining that my Mother in Law got seated in the row in front of him at Temple.  he complained that he had been at Temple for an hour, and he was only in two of the pre event pictures.

At the breakfast that is served immediately after a Mitzvah (I don’t remember what it’s called) my family and I had to run to opposite sides of the room to talk to in laws, because they would not sit at tables adjacent to one another.  We called it bagel on the run…

Then, there is the reception.  If you are my Mother in Law, you spend the cocktail hour in the lackluster outer room, when everyone else is in the bar room with the food and the great view.  You decide to find something wrong with every college her granddaughter (mu daughter) is applying to.  Her professionally made up face does not crack a smile.

The dinner portion saw my FIL and MIL sit at their tables, stone faced.  They barely danced.  They barely got up from the table.  They didn’t smile, they didn’t laugh, they didn’t talk to anyone.  The event that they had spoken so highly of for years was playing in a loop right before their eyes, and they didn’t care.

My MIL was annoyed because my niece and nephew weren’t paying any attention to her.  Gee: you mean at a party with at least 50 of their friends, they weren’t sitting in the back of the room with my MIL?  Shocking I say.

FIL was annoyed that he wasn’t being revered as an elder statesman.  In his mind, the crowd would part as he walked the room, kissing his ring and asking for his sage advice and blessing.  It’s a party with DJ’s and spinning lights and too much food.  And it wasn’t his event.  My niece and nephew, and their parents were the stars of the day.  As they should be.

The problem was, they had an idea in their minds as to how this would play out.  And the actual event did not match their expectations.  Their vision of the event was not realistic: they set themselves up to fail.

So, what’s the take away?

  1. Get a hobby
  2. Realize it’s great to look forward to something.  Looking forward to something actually makes you happy.  But, be realistic as to your expectations.
  3. Don’t expect other people to act the way you want them to act.  You can only control your own actions, not the actions of others.
  4. Don’t drive your children, their partners, and your grandchildren crazy.  It’s not a good look.