Expectations. Such a simple word but at the same time so complex. It’s a word that sums up what we hope or dream for, what we strive to achieve. It’s a word that, if we think about it too much, can stop us in our tracks before we even begin. We all have them. We all hold them on our partners/children/friends/family.

As a parent of a toddler, I often step back and examine the expectations that I hold for Ella. For example, yesterday, Eric took her to the doctor’s. She’d just had a low grade fever for a couple of days, followed by a strange rash. Turns out she has a viral infection similar to the measles. Nothing serious, it just doesn’t look all that great.

Now, Ella is a very strong willed child to say the least. If she doesn’t want to do something, she’ll tell you. And she has the set of lungs to go along with that. Apparently at the doctor’s office, Ella demonstrated those lungs. Eric tried to get her to show the doctor the rash that was covering her body. She didn’t want her shoes and socks taken off. She didn’t want to lift up her shirt or pant legs. She was definitely not impressed about having him look in her mouth either. But really, what can you expect? She’s tired, a little grumpy and now she’s being asked to lift up her shirt and show a basic stranger her tummy. Given the fact that she hasn’t even wanted me to look at it, how can I really expect her to be okay with someone else looking at it?

As a parent, we want our children to “behave” a certain way. To cooperate when we ask them to. To go to sleep when we put them to bed. To never express themselves in a way that makes us uncomfortable. But is this fair? We all have days where we are grumpy. Where we don’t feel like meeting the expectations of others. Why is this not okay for our children?

I ask these questions, because at times I struggle with the answers. I struggle to maintain my patience. To not put my expectations on Ella, but to let her be her own person. One who will grow up to reach for her dreams. Who will stand up for herself but at the same time be respectful of others. Who will eventually understand that going to see the doctor is not a bad thing. Who will put her strong will to “good use.” Who will be proud of who she is. But even with these thoughts, is that asking too much?

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