The weekend of Mother's Day was college graduation for my daughter. While her senior project will be completed in the fall to obtain her diploma, she was invited to walk with her class. Empathizing with bittersweet "almost-finishing-but-not-quite" feelings, I had the grand idea that our family would attend the event in the spirit of celebration. Although transitioning differently than many of her peers, her efforts and accomplishments to date were well worth celebrating.
Since that weekend, celebration expectations have a whole new meaning for me. My scope of the concept was quite limited. Celebration was yippee, way-to-go, right-on, hell-yes. Happy and joy-filled. Today, I claim an expanded view. Yielding to sideways squints, really?, absurdity, laughing at the human condition, and plentiful profanity including the F-Bomb (repeatedly.) In a nutshell, I felt heated and angry throughout the weekend. Celebration indeed! :D
Seinfeld, Modern Family, the Middle, take your pick of sitcoms, they have nothing on us. We were the epitome of
seriously? - This cannot be happening
. Our son drives his car from a neighboring school to join us after his academic year ends. Suffering from a lingering case of shingles, after a severe strep throat infection caused by a compromised immune system which had been ignited by a celiac response to a mistaken "gluten-infected" meal, during finals and exams and intense study, our son was a warrior for resourcefulness and resilience. Arriving to our daughter's graduation, the pain of his shingles was alive and activated.
He was not the only party in physical pain. My beloved was suffering from back pain in several places due to - I don't know - old age, a seriously taxing tax season, being a generous dad who can't say no? His heart was present yet his body was saying "I need a time out". For most of the first day he was incapacitated, lying on the bed trying to recuperate from a short two-hour flight.
Celebrating the actual commencement ceremony was interspersed with other plans. 1) Pack our daughter's things in my son's car for them to drive home, 2) a simple and sweet mother's day meal - acknowledging
, 3) a family cook-out with our daughter's friends and family, and 4) whatever the school was hosting for the weekend events. These plans quickly gave way to reality.
Our daughter succumbed to her disorganization and overwhelm, followed by denial. Though she had finished exams on Wednesday, by our Saturday early-afternoon arrival, we learned that her room remained untouched and in need of
power packing performance
. Upon joining together, we found an Italian diner. Our son, who had arrived first, warned us that her dorm room was in need of significant attention and that it would take a small army to get it done. He had just finishing packing his roommate, as well as his own college room, and was not too thrilled for a third round.
The three of us, spouse excluded, ventured into the room. I had an OMG moment of WTF and disbelief. Celebration expectation shift number one. Stuff was everywhere. I wanted to cry. I laughed. I shouted. I went blank. I did not know where to begin.
We started to shapeshift by throwing stuff away and packing a few suitcases into the rental car, organizing for the power packing performance the next day (... Mother's Day...) My hobbling husband offering to help became the buyer for shipping containers. Oh, did I mention there was another storage bin, filled with more stuff? And, that our almost graduate's special senior space had to be cleared out?
Four years of pencils, hair goo, detergent, make-up, skin lotion, nail files, coffee cups, tea bags, note cards, electronic supplies, books, hats, scarves, gloves, boots, bedding, sheets, utensils, sox, fans, humidifiers, pillows, stuffed animals, organization bins - the list is clear, long, and in multiples. My daughter indicates that she is a visual learner and when things are put away, she can't find them. This means that she gets a duplicate; in many cases quadruplicates. Hearing her explanation, sweating and exhausted, I blurt, "Katelyn, your decoration needs to be clear plastic bags stapled to the wall with your things. Then, you will be able to see what you have and use it up." We laughed in desperation.
My "Farmer Gayle" persona was activated and on high alert. Farmer Gayle, my "make do, use up, wear out" sidekick, never wastes any food or material goods. Her duty is to make sure that nothing is thrown away that still has moderate use. In the end, Farmer Gayle surrendered to the scene and many ? filled bottles of you name it, went into the trash. Of course, the expiration date on many bottles was long past.
Add to the focused packing activity, a spontaneous flat tire on our son's car from driving over a pothole on one of the many trips to the dorm room. This became the object of my hurting spouse's attention even though his back was hardly bearable.
Celebration parties? I don't think so. We were packing for most of Sunday - only to stop at 4:30 for a quick shower and Mother's Day dinner reservations at 5:00. My loving spouse wanted me to receive a generous Mother's Day gesture. Imagine my surprise when we entered the restaurant and I view a three-foot round large centerpiece of exotic flowers. It was beautiful, immense and Farmer Gayle was again activated. How are we going to get this home? Rich tries to soften the space, remember, impermanence. I wanted to throttle him. Practical Gayle internally mused - I would have preferred a packing crew to flowers!
Our daughter did not have a clear idea of the school events. Luckily for us our motel had created a flyer showing us all of the events we would miss. We did show up for the most important one, Commencement. Well, at least three of us were present. Herculean Dad was at the car dealership getting the tire repaired. We sat in blistering heat listening to speeches that could go into a book of canned graduation platitudes. Yes, pithy observations and encouragement for the graduates and family members alike, however, I am pretty certain that most attendees were ready to get the heck out. A mother sitting next to me shook her head with an "I am so glad this finally finished" gesture. You have no idea, was my silent nod.
Our flight was delayed by two hours, when we finally made it to the airport, after mailing 5 large boxes home. (Yes, five boxes after giving away and throwing away several filled garbage cans.) Eating a dinner of airport food, I tried to see beyond my nose to no avail. Celebration expectation shift number two. My witness had watched my acute pissed-off-ness the entire weekend without a shred of assistance. My attachment to a certain way of celebrating left no room for something else. It was stunning. I did not want to see anything different, I knew it and just watched like a child watches soap floating in the tub.
I opened Facebook while waiting for our delayed plane because that's what you do in this situation, right? Audrey, a dear friend and brilliant member of the wonder tribe, offered an exploration. Having had her own recent "experience," she reported that a wonder question arrived. Celebration expectation shift number three.
"I called this experience in to learn:"
Wonder softened my heart. My shoulders and belly returned to "me" and with each breath I released the anger and disappointment tightly held in my body. I called in this experience to learn...
- celebrations are much deeper and wider than a pretty party and laughter
- I am a prolific creator and can generate output - when wanted and required
- the insignificance of stuff
- the depth of my love for my daughter and son
- the bounty of love from my spouse
- achievements are relative
- each moment, each breath, is a celebration
- expectations are something in the past wanting to be repeated or replayed
- expectations are a future fantasy controlling that which cannot be predicted
- Mother's day is every moment the minute your child is born
- One doesn't need to birth a child to be a mother
- I can choose celebration - now, now and now
Tethering to money - cuz that's the way I roll - what are your money celebration expectations? Call up your most recent pleasant or puckering money experience and journal answers to the following: "I called in this experience to learn:"
If you want to go deeper with your exploration, send me your learnings via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). The first three responses receive a complimentary coaching session from me. Feeling celebratory and generous!
Celebrating no expectations - just celebrating,