One of my favorite songs came on the radio as I drove home from the grocery store. I sang along with a fierce face, pointed my finger at the windshield as I howled the chorus. It’s a stupid song – the lyrics are fairly ridiculous – but, it’s a grimace-inducing, fist-shaking experience. Whatever the meaning of it is, the lead singer tells you about it with feeling. His voice sounds like he just staggered away from a mano-a-mano fight at the local biker bar. Probably having to do with the virtue of the local heart-of-gold hooker. I imagine him standing there, bleeding and singing to his tawdry beauty. Intent dark eyes, bristly beard, bulgy muscles. *rawr*
Anyway, after the food and sundries were all put away, I wanted to hear the song again. Fortunately for me, Al Gore invented the Internet1. I typed in my search parameters, queued up the video and …
Whoa…is THAT really the lead singer?
More Googling revealed that yes, indeedy that is the lead singer of AWOLNATION. So not what I was expecting. And where in the hell does he hide that voice? Because that is the voice of bruised knuckles, stained white hats and righteous anger. It is the voice every knocked down cowboy, staggering back up to his feet to give the Bad Guys(TM ) what-for.
It is not the voice of Spindly Emo Guy.
But apparently, it is. This is what expectations do for you. I expected this guy to look a certain way based on his voice. I had built up a picture in my head, added flavor and nuances and associated emotions. And was totally floored by the truth. Spindly Emo Guy sings my song. I hate spindly emo guys. What is that going to do for my enjoyment of it, going forward?
My Mom called this morning. Mostly, it was to catch up and gossip. I usually talk to her about once a week. After some back and forth about family things and upcoming Thanksgiving plans3, I casually asked her if she had gotten the picture I’d sent a couple days ago.
I hadn’t heard back from her about it and truth to tell, I was disappointed. I mean, when I’d posted that very same image on Facebook – many of my friends had given me a virtual thumbs up. My Mom, on the other hand hadn’t even mentioned it. She was my mother and I was anticipating a somewhat different reaction. An excited call. An email with a lot of exclamation points. Something. I got zilch. Zippo. Zero. Nada.
Well, she is a busy person. She works hard and her weekday hours are vastly4 different than my own. Maybe she had just forgotten or gotten overwhelmed at work or something. So, during our call, I brought it up again.
“Oh, yeah. I saw it.” [ho-hum tone]
“Well, what do you think? I got accepted to Texas State!” [très excited, bouncy as a mucous factory can get]
“…. ?” [if there can be a questioning tone to silence, mine certainly had it]
“I mean… Bon, how’re you going to pay for it?”
Now, I gotta say that my first reaction to her reaction was one of hurt. Really, Mom? “How’m I going to pay for it?” That’s your response? I answered her question [“Um, the same way I was paying for ACC – grants and loans”] and got off the phone. My chest was a tight and hurty place. I just, I dunno…expected her to act differently.
I went and did my errands, still chewing on the phone call.
“How am I going to pay for it? [weighs tomatoes] Really, that’s her takeaway from the news that I got accepted to a major university? [digs in the yellow onions, looking for something non-bruised] I should think she’d be a little more excited, or something. I mean, [ew, rusty lettuce!] if Summer told me that she was accepted to university, I sure would be shaking pom-poms and such.”
And people – that’s when it hit me.
My Mom was not behaving in a way that I expected her to. That’s why I was so upset. I had expected her to be excited for me, to jump up and down, to get a touch shrill. That’s what Moms do, right? Well sure – if your kid is a teenager being accepted into a university for the first time. It’s not necessarily the same thing when that kid is a 41 year old woman.
Her response was perfectly valid. Maybe not ego stroking, but perfectly valid.
Mister Man and I have been struggling financially for the last few months. She was responding to her adult daughter with a concern. Her expectation was that I was an adult, a mother first. I have long since left my teen years behind.
All of which leads me back to AWOLNATION.5
We can’t really let our expectations of others set the tone for our relationships with them. To do so will often lead to disappointment. Yes, have a standard of acceptable behavior. Yes, have morals and likes and ethics and preferences. Yes, feel a certain way.
Do not expect others to conform to the bull that lives in your head, though. That is a fast track to a sad you. The only person that you can reasonably have expectations about is yourself.
1 – Not really.
2– Ask me how I know about the segue thing. ß Not a work-safe link, btw.
3– There is some concern that the infection that I am recuperating from might cause problems for my Aunt as she is currently on chemo. I am no longer infectious but…chemo doesn’t play nice with immune systems.
4 – Try 4 AM to 8:30 PM, every day of the week. Sleeping in on the weekends means that she will stay in bed all the way to 7:30. 7:30, people. *jibblies*
5 – You knew there’d be another segue, right? I think its mostly because I like saying and writing the word “segue.”
6– First off, that is what I thought that “Maybe I’m not listening” first was. Yay, misheard lyrics. Second, I have no way to embed the video for your enjoyment. Go forth, listen. Grimace, shake your fist, bend in double as you shout “SAIL!” Then, slap on your stained white hat and go downstairs to wrangle the kitchen into order. 😉