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[icon] Where you were supposed to be vs. where you are - Patti
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Subject:Where you were supposed to be vs. where you are
Time:01:06 am
This morning I crawled out of bed at a ludicrous hour-- before 9 a.m! After the morning ablutions, I walked over to Chinatown so that I could meet up with several lovely people for brunch. Typically there's no way in hell that I'm getting out of bed that early on a weekend, but I couldn't resist har gau, cheong fun, and good company.

At some point, the conversation turned from from the topic of gender roles to our parents' expectations of us. I was sitting at the table with two intelligent, articulate women, both of whom seemed happy with their lives but who had clearly chosen nontraditional paths for themselves. I asked them two questions:

"Did you turn out the way your mother wanted you to? And is your mother happy with the way you turned out?"

Between the three of us, the answer to the first question was a resounding no. Unsurprisingly, none of us had done anything like what our parents expected. The answer to the second question was mixed. "I was supposed to be a nun and spend the rest of my life taking care of her", was one of the responses.

To balance out the equation, I called mom this afternoon. We hadn't chatted in a while, so we spent some time catching up on random news and minutiae of our lives. She's studying for next year's tax season, David's garden is doing fine, my stepbrother is in Spain. I've been traveling a lot this year, the job is fine, everybody's fine, la la la.

And then I asked her the two questions. As expected, no, I did not turn out the way she expected me to. And yes, she's happy with the way I turned out. I've thrown lots of curve balls at her over the years-- there's very little that I hold back from her. While she hasn't always been delighted with everything I've done (and man, you should have heard the conversation some years ago when I told her I'd quit my job of seven years, sold my condo, was headed to Europe for the summer, and then was moving to San Francisco), she's always been supportive. These days, she doesn't even bat en eye when I say I'm on my way to the boyfriend's wife's birthday party. As long as I'm happy, and I certainly seem happy to her, then she's fine with whatever I do.

"I always expected you to be more of an academic." Yeah, me too-- I thought I'd wind up with a PhD in physics or math or something. I started college in precisely the wrong way, got myself tossed out in the minimum three-semesters it took to do so, and never went back. At this point there's no career upside in my going back to school, so while it would be fun to do it's just not likely to happen.

When I quit school, she was quite adamant that I'd never do anything without a degree. I'm sure she thought I was setting myself up for a lifetime of low-wage dead-end jobs. I was lucky in a way-- I found myself in a young industry, one where being smart and capable was far more important than having credentials-- but I'm pretty sure I would have done OK no matter what. Having her tell me I couldn't was more than sufficient motivation. :-)


I really like those two questions. Did you turn out the way your parents expected you to, and are your parents happy with the way you turned out?
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catness
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 01:32 pm (UTC)
No. And no. :) Fortunately, it's not a problem for me, just for them.
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greeklady
Subject:I like it
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-18 03:44 am (UTC)
Oh I like your answer so I am going to borrow it too.
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superplin
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 02:30 pm (UTC)
Well, there's no way to answer the second question. As for the first... I'm not sure they had any specific expectations.

My mother was very unhappy when I told her I was getting married and moving to Europe (er, not in that order), to be with someone who only had the equivalent of a middle school education. She even said she wasn't sure she was coming to the wedding. But she did, and she did a complete 180° on everything about my life.

I'm very glad I was still married when she died, since I think it would have upset her a lot that it ended. On the plus side, I think she would be thrilled to pieces that I have a PhD, and would probably be telling everyone from the mailman to the cosmetic counter ladies that her daughter is a college professor. So in the end, I think I would say that I took an unexpected path to get to a place she'd always hoped I'd end up.
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wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 02:34 pm (UTC)
I really like those two questions too, and I've already answered. I'm also interested in men's answers (either as is, or substituting "father").
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timprov
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 02:53 pm (UTC)
My parents convinced themselves early on that they weren't going to understand what I chose to do with my life, and I suppose I lived up to that. Actually moving out of their house and living with other people was something of a shock, but not one they're unhappy about. I think my mother is less than thrilled with the gambling, but overall they're pretty happy. They've been the good poly parents; in fact I often suspect my mother likes mrissa and markgritter more than she likes me. They're certainly happy to have them around.
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freelikebeer
Subject:MoFa
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 04:09 pm (UTC)
My mother is crazy. She took me to a seance when I was like 11, and made me ask how my life would turn out. So, you know, I had destiny going for me. That said, my life is nothing like the seance would have led you to believe would be the case, so I don't have the life that my mom expected.

I haven't seen much of her since my parents divorced [when I was 5-6, can't remember; maybe a dozen or so times]. The last time I saw her was mid-2002. I had dinner in Palm Beach with some coworkers, where eight of us split a four digit bill [loooong ten days of work], the next night I was in Jax, and she was thrilled for me to take her to the brand new Golden Corral. So, I think she is happy with how I've turned out.

My dad is happy with how I turned out. He was wandering through his own life when I was a kid, so he didn't really have any expectations for me. Now that I have decent job, no jail time, no illegitimate children, he is busy rewriting my personal history [He learned to play the saxophone in six weeks!!].

Neither had expectations for me, both are happy with how I've turned out. Both are oblivious.
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yayhappens
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 05:01 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about the first question. I'd say no based on what *I* think they had expected but I don't know if what I assume is actually the case. But I'd say no.

The second one, yes.

I'll have to give them a call and find out.

Interestingly, since I do have a sibling...if I were to ask the question about my sibling I'd have completely different answers. (no and no)


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adbjupe
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 05:25 pm (UTC)
I've never heard that my parents wanted me to be a certain way. But then again, my career and live choices haven't really been much out of the ordinary. I did vocational training, a well received professional choice in Germany and even managed to go to college and become an engineer, equally well received.
The fact that I didn't get married until age 45 (and no serious relationships until then) made my mom nervous. But now that I am married and my wife passed inspection, all is well. Living in the US instead of close to home is a major annoyance, but not a disappoinment.
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 05:42 pm (UTC)
pretty sure my parents never envisioned me or my life turning out the way it did. My mom has been gone 17 years and she never really got to see my life as it is now. I am 100% sure she would be elated at how I turned out.
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mspurrmeow
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 06:36 pm (UTC)
Obviously No and No.

I don't think there's a chance that a parent can "expect" much. The world changes so fast that by the time a child reaches adulthood, the world is different from what they knew when they formed their expectation.

I think my mother, before her death, actually came to accept that I turned out the way I should have, and she should have expected nothing different. She could never wrap her head around who I was as a youngster, and still couldn't wrap her head around me as an adult. I think, near the end, she finally appreciated my oddness and she made a few noises to that effect while she still could. Too little too late for any relationship value, but it was something. It was my anti-traditional characteristics that kept me there with her and that she knew and admitted.
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ts4z
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 07:00 pm (UTC)
I assume the answers are mostly and yes.

I was lucky enough to follow a career path that was pretty obvious to me from the time that I was a kid. I went to college, graduated, and got a job. She is certainly not happy that I moved to California, but that wasn't exactly unexpected, either.

I am sure that my mom does not like some of my hobbies, namely poker, but I think I've pointed out to her that her disapproval is one of the bonuses. As a result I think she pretends it's okay now.
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bldrnrpdx
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 07:55 pm (UTC)
I wrote about something similar not too long ago in my own LJ, in my ponderings of mom-stuff.
As far as I know, my mom wanted me to a) get a college degree, b) do something for a living that I could actually live off of and would make me happy, and c) be happy. I've achieved all three of those. I think she thought I married too early - or settled. I'm not entirely sure she was wrong, but she was supportive, and there were lots of good things about having been married to him, so to me, and I think to her, it wasn't a Failure so much as an Experience. My mom's always at least been outwardly okay with me being Different. She doesn't know *all* of the Differences, but I do think she knows more than she ever let on. At some point she simply stopped asking certain questions. And she's always known I'd have to find the unusual way or the difficult way of doing things.
My dad, OTOH, has a much harder time with Different. He's happy for the college degree and job security, and recognizes I'm Happy, Healthy, and a Functional Member of Society. I think he chooses to be blind to a number of other things, and then he and I can both be okay with him disapproving of the rest. But then he also never understood why mom kept going back for more degrees in fields she enjoyed and didn't just choosing some kind of work that would actually pay. It's pretty much symptomatic of their relationship, and I've always been much more like her than him.
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sabyl
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 09:00 pm (UTC)
Sadly you know the answer to those questions for me. It's been a constant personal struggle dealing with the answers to those questions.
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pdx_girl
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 10:48 pm (UTC)
I don't think I turned out the way my mom expected me to, and sadly, I didn't ask her whether she was happy with the way I turned out. In retrospect, it would be nice to have that answer, either way.

As far as my dad goes, I'll have to ask him what he expected. I think I might be close, at this point in my life. His expectations and my "turning out" have both been moving targets. I know he's proud of who I am, with the glaring exception of the queerness (and I'm sure, other things that he doesn't - and won't ever - know).

Thanks for a great question for a muggy Sunday afternoon. :)
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essaying
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-17 10:50 pm (UTC)
I don't think I turned out the way anyone wanted or expected me to, including myself. But I think most of us, with the possible exception of my dad, are happy with the way I turned out. And even my dad is OK with it, if a bit bewildered.
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jellymillion
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-18 09:16 am (UTC)
I have a suspicion that I may not be that far, overall to what my parents may have expected. Although I know they were disappointed when I blew up after my year of higher education and that might have bothered them, each seemed reasonably content with where I'd got to when they died. I would have loved my Dad to have seen his grandchildren but he missed them by about 14 years. I know my mother was thrilled to meet them, albeit briefly.
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stevecohen
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-18 02:39 pm (UTC)
I'm mostly certain it is yes and yes. My overriding thought when I read this was, however, that the second question says a lot more about the parents than it does about the child.
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j5nn5r
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-18 05:55 pm (UTC)
No and no. And I'm good with that.
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19_crows
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-08-18 09:31 pm (UTC)
I like this question too. No, and Yes.

My mother, who's very critical and judgmental (less so now than when I was growing up, but still), has actually told me that she's glad I didn't turn out the way she's hoped because I would have been boring.

She wanted me to get an advanced degree and be a professional of some (any) kind.
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[icon] Where you were supposed to be vs. where you are - Patti
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