“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ~Alexander Pope
Growing up, I had a wonderful relationship with my mother. We did all the usual mother-daughter things together—went shopping, had brunch—and we supported each other when my father left.
In 2011, I was happily pregnant. I felt supported by my family and ready to take on motherhood. My husband and I were elated by the birth of our little boy.
It’s fair to say that I may have been a little naïve about what was to come. I knew it would be hard work, but I didn’t quite realize how hard.
The other expectation I had was ongoing support from my family. You know, the kind of situation where family (both parents and siblings) rally around you to welcome a new little person into the world. The kind of situation where there are regular visits and an influx of babysitting offers.
In particular, I expected the bond with my mother to strengthen—because in my mind, having your first child is the time when you are deeply supported by your mother. What happened next fell entirely short of what I had imagined life to be like post-baby. I was utterly disappointed.
I felt blessed for the birth of my little boy but resentful for the lack of support from my family.
You see, although my little boy was healthy in the most important ways, he was a screamer. He was diagnosed with severe acid reflux, and we endured an extremely unsettled baby (and toddler) for the first eighteen months.
My husband and I didn’t sleep for more than two hours per night (on shifts) for the first four months, and it improved only marginally from there. There were feelings of despair, helplessness, and confusion as we paced the floors trying to help our little boy.
At first, my mother stayed with us in our house and helped us tirelessly. But at month four she relocated overseas. By this time, I felt disillusioned by the experience of having an unsettled baby, and disappointed that what was supposed to be a beautiful time had become somewhat negative and relentless.
Looking back, I realize expectations played a huge part in my disappointment.
I had expected a blissful experience—picnics in the park with my (sleeping) newborn! My disappointment was closely linked to my expectations of how it would be, with my baby, and with support from my family.
Had I not expected a certain outcome, I would not have felt so low about what occurred. Had I been more open-minded about what may eventuate, I may not have felt abandoned and resentful at a time when I needed the most help.
My little boy is now healthy, happy, and three. Granny has moved back to this side of the world, and she visits weekly. There is still minimal involvement in comparison to the vision in my head, but I have come to terms with it. Acceptance is liberating sometimes.
The following philosophies have helped me to be more at peace with my own feelings, and you may find them helpful when facing disappointments in your world too.
You have the right to feel what you feel.
So don’t ignore your feelings of disappointment. But try to obtain a renewed sense of the other person’s perspective.
We all have different expectations.
Most people are inherently good. They are on their own journey, and although disappointment can feel personal, it’s often not. The other person’s expectations are simply different to yours.
Disappointments aren’t always all bad.
What may seem like a challenge may be a blessing in disguise—or a blessing in waiting; it may only be a matter of time before you recognize that your disappointment is actually the universe working its magic for you. For example, my challenging start with my first born has led me to support other mothers through their own hard times.
It helps to shift your focus.
Resolve to do things that bring you joy. Focus on what is new and good, start manifesting, and leave those disappointing thoughts behind.
It will pass.
No matter how deeply you are disappointed, in time you will move through the feeling.
Weed out the people who consistently disappoint you.
Be mindful of people who regularly disappoint you or let you down, and make more time for those who don’t. Maintain a positive sense of yourself through happy relationships with people who are uplifting and energizing.
We’re all on our own paths (even grannies). We have our own lives to live, our own choices to make, our own wishes and wants, and our own free will.
Our closest connections can’t be expected to live on our terms, or to live inside the box we have created for them in our minds. So release your disappointment and get ready for the next adventure the universe will send your way.
Disappointed woman image via Shutterstock