The Wild Vine of Expectations

fox grapes

My rejection letter to a certain mothers’ group,

whom had already taken months of my time to get in contact with, had ignored previous application letters, and could hardly eke out terse, two line emails every other week requesting something else from my biography to determine my value and worth within their circle, was satisfying.

The final request was for the names and relationship status of 3 people in my life, with their email addresses and phone numbers.  
My rejection letter to their request is as follows:
No, I don’t think so. 
If this was a job application, I would be able to provide references; but I should be able to stand on my own merit without the use of outside anecdotal support; which really is just as valid as my own.  I can speculate that the references are to support that I am not insane, or that I am truly a creative person, or that I am not a violent person.  Again, I think I should be able to speak for myself without the need to have another person vouch for me.  In a time when women have the ability to be heard, and after so much work by thousands of women to secure the position of autonomy and individuality, I would find it to be disrespectful to require any woman to find someone else to speak for them, especially in order to secure their value and worth in a community.
It’s unfortunate, since I sincerely thought your mother’s group was a “tribe” of which I could be a part, and I was looking forward to introducing my kids to new experiences.   And although I was in great anticipation to broaden my own experiences, there is no way I am submitting myself to the degradation of this request, nor would I subject my friends, whom I love, to your queries of my value.
Thank you for your time, and I wish your group all the best for the future.
Tamarah Rockwood
The thing is, I have run mothers groups before.  I solicited speakers, paid childcare to facilitate a few classrooms for about 100 kids and ran meetings that helped new moms through the transition into motherhood as well as connecting with other women who were in the same boat.
I have ran ministries in churches, organized events, written inumerous newsletters for a few organizations.  I’ve written plays that were performed in churches, I was the editor for a poetry journal
for a few years, my own book of poetry has been published and I am working on another book.
Besides all this, I am also currently raising 5 kids and homeschooling them while enjoying my 14th year of marriage with my husband.
At this point in my life, when I am asked to fill out yet another questionaire asking about my background, how long have I been a mother, what exactly am I doing trying to get into their mother’s group?  Or, how long have you been a Christian?  Can you describe your experience, again, to satisfy our curiosity about your salvation, of how you became a Christian, and here are two pages to go into vivid detail exactly what angel visited you…my mind goes to:
I’ve just had it with filling out forms proving myself to a group before they have even met me.
Now, I know this process is important.  I understand that you want to protect yourselves and your kids from intruders.  This is paramount to anyone’s hurt feelings.
On the other hand, relationships aren’t formed by filling out forms.  
Ultimately, the problem is personal expectations and requiring people to meet, or exceed, your own expectations as well as meeting the standards that the other person/group expects of you.
When I became a mother, I seriously bought into what I saw as the 1800’s periodical image of what a mother should be.  I would be cheerful, yet calm; disciplined, yet  domestically adventurous; mild mannered, yet firm in my personal values.
I would be able to run a household the same way, daily.  I would have the laundry done and my children would always fetch clean, folded laundry from their matching dressers.  Dinner would always be at 6, and it would be served in a clean kitchen that was filled with the calm and loving warmth of the family.
I really don’t know what I was thinking.
I couldn’t get all this done before I had kids.  But suddenly, magically, all this would happen now that we had children in the house?
I had some crazy expectations for myself, and it took about 5 years to really start to understand this.  At this point, roughly 10 years into it, I believe I am firmly in a good place.  A place where I am not intimidated by personality requests or differences of parenting styles.  But it did take a good, long time to get here.
This morning I was watering my grapevines with my 3 year old daughter in the front yard.  She has the gardening bug in her, which is so much fun.  She helps me dig holes in the garden, plant seeds, harvest grapes, wash everything off in the kitchen.  It all comes naturally to her, which is what I like to see in the kids: just introduce as many things, bit by bit, and see who takes to which item.  It is so exciting to see how different they each are, and what cultivates their soul.
As I was watching her water the vines, our siamese kitten was playing with the weeds and jumping around the hose beneath my daughter.  I thought the moment was so idyllic and peaceful, so heart warming and innocent…and I almost laughed when I remembered all those expectations I had for life when I first started this journey.
This is the best life, and the expectations I have for it, and for me, have changed significantly over the years.
I feel very confident as a mother, but in particular I feel very confident as a woman.  I know who I am, and I know what I expect of myself.
I am also able to separate my expectations from those others have for me; and I am not afraid to stand on my own and defend my ground if I feel it is necessary.  
The path of motherhood has been much more interesting than I initially thought it would be.  In the beginning I thought it would be the same cookie cutter days interlaced with play-doh and parks.
And yet…I have found that I am the master of my own path, and I think I like the road of adventure a little bit better.
By now, at this point in my life, I expect nothing less of myself.