A young woman sits solemnly awaiting…wishing…wondering. She rests a hand on her big belly as she leans back into the wind, letting her hair whip wild, matching her every breath to the ocean’s pulse- back and forth- wiping the slate of the earth clean with each deep fusing tide. She contemplates what the future will bring with each twirl around the sun, how her life will change, what new paths of happiness she will endure. She pictures herself proud, for she is expecting.
10 long years of toil later, the exhausted mother kisses her son’s cheek as she pushes him out the front door and yells behind him, “You bring back an A on that math test now, you hear?” She watches as her son clumsily bikes away with that silly little grin on his face, while she whispers to herself, he better do well this time. She pictures him grown, mature, confident. She pictures herself proud, for she is expecting.
8 years of mediocre grades and various experimentation later, she unlocks the car doors at the nearby college as her tall, slender son steals a glance in her direction. She holds his eyes a moment as she conveys all her feelings of disappointment, pain, frustration, and misguided hope. She tells him to work hard and become something great. She grimaces as he slams the door shut and runs away. She reminds herself this is just a phase that he will grow out of. She pictures herself proud, for she is expecting.
9 years pass filled with sporadic calls, confusing updates, momentary laughs. She awakes one morning to find an email from her son. She puts a pot of tea on as she wonders what foolishness he could be up to now. She prepares herself for the worst as she tentatively opens the digital envelope, “I know I may have never lived up to your expectations. Perhaps this time you will have none. I am having a baby.” Her eyes brighten and her hand stills. She feels her heart swell with immense emotion. This must be pride, she thinks. She finds herself proud, for she is no longer expecting.
Of life’s happiest moments, how much is made up of our own stolen moments- unexpected beauty, unanticipated serenity, unforeseen news. How much of what makes us happy lies in that which we could not guess? What determines our ability to take a reality for face value, for all its positives and potential? Instead we take situations and realities for their measured distance from our expectation. If we set our goals at infinite and our expectations at zero, have we anything to lose?
In travels, relationships, careers, self worth- the most fulfilling, surprising, blissful, encouraging heartbeats have been spent alongside those moments that surpassed all expectations of that moment itself.  Further, the most depressing, frustrating, difficult hours have been those living with the realization of my expectation being fiercely and brutally unmet. Why, then, do we set our goals and expectations together on a tiny floating cloud, forcing ourselves into a dark corner of everlasting disappointment and dulled happiness as we squint into the sky searching for misplaced desires, when we could open our eyes, breathe in each heartbeat shed of weight, and accept the world for all of its bright, beautiful stolen moments of unabashed bliss?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Seth Johnson says:


  2. Aman Manik says:

    Simply exquisite! Shabnam, “Expecting” post was very moving. I look forward to more posts! Cheers, Aman

  3. NKW says:

    I like this, Shabnam. I can’t help but think that the underlying philosophy alluded to is very eastern (Hindu, in particular) in its ethos. The notions that desire and expectation inevitably lead to suffering via unumet expectation are compelling.
    Yet, isn’t there a tension in that we can will ourselves to do great things by expecting greatness of ourselves?

  4. Anu says:

    Expectations of ‘others’ vs ‘myself’ is perhaps where the difference lies.
    But then… is my son not a part of me? Is it so wrong to expect him to achieve what he is capable of… or am I expecting him to achieve what ‘I’ think he is capable of? Huh, random trains of thought!
    I guess this is where Gibran comes to rescue and says,
    “Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
    Lovely piece, Shabnam. You are right- the happiest moments show up unexpectedly.

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