expectation vs intention - allowing what is




We went to Arizona for the weekend, to celebrate a family bar mitzvah and also to belatedly celebrate my father in law's birthday, since we were all together.

We haven't gone to a bar/bat mitzvah since Remy was too small to remember, so it was all new to him. (And we haven't taken him to regular services in a very long time, so he's not familiar with it anymore.) As a cousin of the bar mitzvah boy, he was given the honor of helping to "dress" the Torah, after the reading was over. (An honor he shared with his other cousin, who is one year older than he is.) I didn't turn it down, when we were asked if he was up for that role, but I also didn't know whether he'd need more support (or even be able to make it through the entire service, let alone help dress the Torah).

I needed to say, "He might not be able to do this" (and then give the reasons why I think that, which are based, usually, on things he is currently having difficulties with or has in the past). And then I needed to say, "But we never know, we'll play it by ear. He may do just fine. It'll work out."

This is my way of ensuring too-high expectations don't get placed on him.

I think what some people hear when I say this is: "I don't think Remy can do that," but that isn't the case at all. (If it is, I just say it point blank: no. We left room for him to maybe attend the night time bar mitzvah night club themed party but by the time we were done with the day, M and I both knew it wasn't going to happen, so we used our backup plan which was that just I went, since I like to dance.)

I leave room. Lots of room. And I prep him for the best outcome (to the best of my ability). But I also leave room for him to not need to meet expectations. I allow him to be where he is.

And he amazes me. He did great this weekend. He was able to go up on the bima, by himself. He was the hit of the day (everyone knew this was a challenge for him). I kvelled like the proudest Jewish mom, ever. But if he hadn't been able to go up without me, I would have helped him. And if he hadn't been able to do it at all, I would have smiled and said, "it's ok." And it really would have been.

I left room by saying, "OK, that may not work but it might." And the room I left was inside of me, in my own expectations. It actually doesn't matter what I say to other people - their expectations aren't going to be a deciding factor, usually - but it matters because my intention is made clearer to me, when I write it or say it out loud. I am honest.

When my intention is clear and I'm not expecting anything, I'm leaving space; I'm allowing what is happening to happen, without impeding it with my actions or thoughts.

And then I can glory in the amazing moments: the beauty of the desert, the cacti, the gorgeous lunches we shared with our extended family, Remy standing next to me and M when we opened the ark during Torah services and then feeling confident enough to go up on his own.

And I can glory in the tough moments, too, because I am alive and I am human and I dislike standing in unnecessarily long lines at security as much as the next person (but I don't have to be a jerk about it). Thank goodness we gave ourselves just enough time to stand there for over an hour and we made our flight home.