I'm Looking at the Mom in the Mirror. I'm Asking Her to Change Her Ways.
I was furious with Charlie yesterday.
We were sitting outside of her new high school watching girls run in for volleyball practice. Charlie felt sick. I said, "Can you make it through?" She shook her head no. I went to CVS and got pepto bismo tablets (her stomach hurt) and let her walk around in the shade. I said, "This is important that you be seen today, can you make it through?" This practice mattered to her having a chance to get on the team.
"No." she said. Again.
All I could see was failure. Yep. I admit it. Even with the last fourteen years of achievements I wanted her to get out of the car feeling sick and go fight for a spot on the team.
Charlie has been a success in every area of her life: playgroups, playgrounds, gymnastics, ballet, art awards, equestrian training, piano, violin, cello, spanish, french, cooking classes, tennis, soccer, volleyball, honor roll. And now.. high school volleyball tryouts..
I never did anything half as well as Charlie and yet my anger and frustration was immeasurable.
I was furious. I said, "DO YOU WANT TO PLAY VOLLEYBALL?"
"Yes." she said.
I didn't believe her. I stepped on the diesel and drove home. After a few minutes of silence she asked, "Are you mad?" I waited. I was so mad I couldn't even explain it to myself. I said. "NO!" And then, "YES, I'm mad at myself." I felt that I had spoiled her.
She came home and laid down for half an hour and then threw up her contaminated tuna sandwich all over her bathroom. She couldn't even stand up. After cleaning up her bathroom, I took a hard look in the mirror. I didn't believe her when we were sitting in front of the school in the car. I didn't believe her. I have seen her play volleyball tournaments for four years. I questioned her because I wanted her to have a chance at being on the team. I couldn't believe that all I could think about was that I was mad that she went away to her yearly go-away camp and missed practices, and mad that she was sick and mad that my expectations of everything I wanted for her were so unfair and so unforgiving, I hated myself.
It took three days for Charlie to recover. She had a great practice today. I was surprised she seemed so happy but she loves the girls and she had fun. Listening to her play her cello unprompted tonight I questioned everything I expected. It's our expectations that will hurt us. It's our expectations that will fail us. Not people. Not things. Ourselves. Our expectations of others.
I'm looking in the mirror and making a change. My daughter is becoming her own person and I need to and I want to stop laying all of my expectations on her achievments... how can she even compete with herself if she isn't allowed to breathe? I am afraid. I am afraid for Charlie because of my own mistakes, my own missed opportunities.
The idea that I have to change my own self, my own hopes and expectations, that I have to fix my own bullshit has shaken me. I see how this relates to other areas of life that I have tried to cultivate and control. The surest way to disappoint myself is to expect everything to go one way.. my way. I don't even know my way.
It's late and Charlie is now on the phone face-timing a friend. I can hear her laughing and talking animatedly as I yell "It's time to go to bed!"
She yells happily, "I KNOW!!!"
Surprising myself, I smiled.