My family is quite aware of my penchant for making lists. And often, leaving those thoughtfully prepared lists at home as I make my appointed rounds. (As I age, I refer to my abandoned lists as my way of testing memory. Seems perfectly acceptable rationale for making and then leaving a list at home.)
But what about the unwritten list that always goes with me? For lack of a better term, it is my EXPECTATION list. It was and is still in effect. One of the most salient items on my EXPECTATION list is the definition of who I am, but not in the typical way of looking at self.
Here’s the IDentity List that I actually carried in my wallet for years:
- I am not a thief or a liar.
- I am not irresponsible.
- I am not a person who causes harm.
By listing “WHO I AM NOT,” I made it and continue to make it very difficult for myself to accept anything that might place me in any of the above categories. In times of duress, I hold myself accountable to this self-imposed ID List and adhere to my EXPECTATIONS that provide guidance for my personalized moral compass. I made my original list in my early twenties. It still holds true for today.
My EXPECTATION list never got written, but if it did, it would look something like this:
- I’m helpful to others, but I do set limits.
- I follow the rules, until the rules prevent me from “doing what is right.”
- I work diligently every day to be of value or of usefulness. Sometimes this is in quiet role modeling.
- I value and build community.
- I am a steward of the environment.
- Since conception of my first child, I will always be a parent.
So what EXPECTATION list would you make for yourself? For your children?
When you think about your EXPECTATION List for your child, would you please consider the following:
- looking to find the GOOD in people, rather than focusing on the critical negatives. We, as a culture, have become exceedingly judgmental, as if we can raise ourselves above others by declaring others to be “less than” ourselves.
- exploring the outdoors. A child raised with the expectation that she will enjoy nature, is a child (I believe) who will be more adventurous, creative and resourceful in life’s endeavors. (When was the last time you built a fort or went camping, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, or just skipped rocks? How long has it been since you watched ants, tried to get a butterfly to land on your finger, built a sand castle?)
- turning off the electronics on a frequent basis so that we can LISTEN to each other. So that we can PLAY together. So that we can reinforce relationship within the family and the community.
- creating and sustaining RITUAL and CEREMONY that gives foundation to our lives.
These are some items to think about. What others do you have on the top of your EXPECTATION list? How do these help you in parenting or care taking of children?