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On Expectations

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Ah, families. They have a way of messing us up, don't they?

I feel like, on our latest visit to Israel, we moved from the "kids" tier to the "adults" tier. You know the kids' tier. It's the place where if you just show up you're the best. Nobody expects you to come to the cousin's wedding/grandma's dinner/third-cousin-twice-removed's funeral. And since nobody even expects you to show up, all you have to do is, well, show up. You're not responsible for the event to be a success. At most, they ask you to cook something.

Last month, at the age of 40, my partner and I graduated from the kids' tier to the adults' tier. You know, the one where you're expected to take care of your mother when she's ill or feeling down. The one where you're expected to organise the cooking rota because otherwise it doesn't get done. The one where it's your job to keep your family together.

This sucks. I'm terrible with expectations, in the sense that I must fulfil them. There's no other option for me. I'll kill myself rising to my family's expectations. But here's the problem. I've been trying to let go of that over the past year. I've been trying to shut out others' expectations and listen to what I want. Be authentic and all that. And I found that I like that. I like doing what I want and not what everybody else wants. I like writing and reading and creating stuff. I'm still pretty reliable, I get the kids registered for clubs, all the bills are paid on time (direct debit, obviously), there's food on the table, and we are mostly where we need to be when we need to be there. But everything else I'd let fall by the wayside. The Christmas cards, the tidy house, the PTA—I've pruned out everything I didn't feel like doing.

It's entirely possible that I'm being childish. It's likely that, had my grandmother been alive, she would have smacked me upside the head and told me to stop whining and start being an adult. And, when it comes down to it, most of the time I would. I would go visit my grandma (the one who's still with us) one more time before we head to London. I would take the call my mum wants me to take, the one that asks whether to put her on life support. I would take care of her from here, or I would travel every week to Israel if I need to. I would text my cousin to see how she's doing. I would take responsibility for my family's adults behaving like children, or, worse, like characters in a bad Argentinian Soap Opera.

Because that's what adults do.


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