Great Expectations: “That was then. This is now.”

I recently had an interesting experience about motherhood, and really more about expectations, and what happens when we let them go.

One of my favorite holidays is Mother’s Day—because I get celebrated, get presents and don’t have to get a year older. Wow!  Talk about a great deal.  And my kids have always given me fabulous mother’s days, and having nine kids made that a pretty exciting day.  But kids grow up, mine live in three cities, all are busy with lives and careers, some have kids, and it’s not as easy anymore to get together for Mother’s Day. I’m grateful that we manage to get together for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and my birthday—that’s a lot.  And let’s face it, mother’s day isn’t quite as big a deal as holidays go.  And this year my Mother’s Day showed serious signs of falling apart.

I was told that one of my kids couldn’t make for the day.  Two others had plans that involved being somewhere else. Three of them were going to a bachelorette weekend on the other side of the country…and only two were able to be with me that day.  Hmph…my nose was seriously out of joint.  Two kids out of eight seemed like a pretty quiet mother’s day this year, and I crabbed about it for several weeks, and finally decided to be a good sport, and pretend to be grown up.  But I was a little disappointed not to see more of my kids.  (Okay, so I’m not always so grown up, and was being a bit of a brat).  And after muttering about it for a while, I finally gave up, and was grateful to spend it with the two kids who had agreed to spend it with me.  And I flew back from Paris to spend Mother’s Day with them.  (One forgets that two children is a normal sized family for most people….but I am used to the chaos provided by nine!  When they started leaving for college, and I ‘only’ had four left at home, I thought I had an empty house.  It’s all relative, and I don’t have an empty nest yet, since I have one child in college still at home, and several who live nearby).  In any case, my expectations of Mother’s Day this year were small.  And I stopped worrying about it after a while.

On my way back from Paris, I stopped in New York, and was told the night before I arrived, that two of my children who live there had had a change of plans.  (Both were supposed to be at the bachelorette party in another city, and I wasn’t going to see them at all).  Instead, both had to change their plans due to work.  One was flying to London, but had time to see me that afternoon before she left, the other one had to stay in New York to work, and I had dinner with her.  When I arrived at the hotel, they had left me a food basket filled with yummy things, and they spoiled me with thoughtful gifts.  I had a great visit with one daughter before she flew out, and lovely dinner with the other.  Both visits were fun and totally unexpected, and exceeded my expectations since I thought I wouldn’t see them at all.

And the next day, in San Francisco, while enjoying lunch with the two children who were planning to see me, another of my children showed up with her kids, and apparently had always intended to show up.  And we had a lot of fun.  Two hours later my nephew showed up on a visit to San Francisco for work, and the next thing I knew, one of the daughters who’d gone to the bachelorette party flew through San Francisco and came home, on her way back to LA.  What I had thought would be very quiet Mother’s Day turned into a celebration, my minimal expectations turned into a festive occasion, where I wound up seeing most of my children in two cities over two days.  And I felt lucky and blessed. I had a truly great day.

It was a real lesson to me that sometimes things turn out a lot better than we hope or plan.  I have a wise friend, who is older than I am, who lives by the mantra ‘That was then, this in now’.  I never liked the saying, but now I realize how true that is, and it’s not entirely a bad thing.  Kids grow up.  Things change.  You have to roll with the punches, go with the flow.  There is a time for macaroni necklaces, and little hands held in our own.  And it is a precious, sweet time.  But there is also something very wonderful about busy, adult children who make time for you in their lives, who manage to see you before they hop on a plane to take a trip for work, or fly home for a night, or manage to show up unexpectedly.  With slightly lowered expectations (once I stopped grousing), I had a fabulous Mother’s Day, and was grateful for the precious gift of each moment I shared with them.  And even my nephew was a wonderful addition to the day.

Things don’t always work out as we plan, and I’m a big planner and I hate it when things change.  But sometimes with the changes come new blessings, and if one can hold on not quite so tightly to the way things were, you find new blessings in the way things are.  ‘That was then, this is now’ is even truer than I thought.  And ‘now’ is filled with blessings, even if a little different than before.

My Mother’s Day turned out to be a really great day.  It would have been even if I had only spent it with two of my children….but how lucky I was to have spent it with so many more.  They made a huge effort to see me, and I was truly grateful for a wonderful day!!  Sometimes we have to give up the old ways, and see what life has in store.  And a far more spontaneous Mother’s Day turned out to be the best one of all!!

Love, Danielle

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3 Comments so far
  1. Lorraine Kovacs May 29, 2011 3:10 pm

    I loved, loved, loved this article. And, I don’t think you are one bit selfish for wanting to see your kids for Mothers Day! It is just that you love them so much and miss them that much more since they have their own lives. A mother is a mother forever. And even when your kids lives change, it is sometimes hard to step off the podium and always go with the changes especially since it usually involves us! Hope you have many more happy mothers days to enjoy!

  2. utauna backus June 4, 2011 1:30 pm

    Its very hard to e-mail you. I just wanted to make a comment about you as a writer. I love all of your books. You are a wonderful story teller!!It cheers me up a lot to read your books. Thank you for that.

  3. angie casper August 4, 2011 11:54 am

    J have read all your books and love them all can’t put them down read so fast on my kindle and wait for your new books to come out read Happy Birthday when is a new book coming out thank you angie casper