09 February 2010

Learning to Leave

When I first started reading other, so-called, “Mommy Blogs”, I was both amused and surprised by the types of questions the authors would pose to situations that I had previously considered nothing more than one of life’s “givens”. For instance, this question, did your mother work and if so, did that inspire you?, gave me pause – not for the deep or profound nature of the question (as it is neither deep nor profound), but because someone actually found it worth asking! In retrospect however, it is worth asking.

For the record, yes, my mother worked and works still and no, it didn’t inspire me. It was simply what parents did and still do. They work. I was raised to know that I would work too because, well, bills need paying, necessities (and niceties) need buying. In short, I do not come from an area or time when mothers stayed home. In fact, there was only one stay-at-home mother that I can remember in my group of schoolmates and friends. It was an anomaly.

Of course, in the macrocosm, it isn’t an anomaly, it's a norm. Then again, no child thinks macrocosmically and frankly, if you grow up and remain in a larger version of your childhood microcosm, it’s tough even for adults to think that way (or acknowledge that a vast majority of others might).

So it was with this sort of thought in mind that I realized this weekend that the decision I make now will unwittingly and unknowingly impact my own daughter later and I wonder how she’ll reflect or even if she will, on the choices she’ll know that I had to make for the sake of my family.

The short version goes like this: Due to a series of unforeseen, negative events in my military unit that have rendered it “inhospitable” (my commander’s choice of word – and an apt one), I made a choice that, even 3 years ago would have been unthinkable. I have chosen to downgrade to a lower status (not rank) and move to a new installation. I chose to throw in the towel. I chose to stop fighting.

I made the decision primarily to alleviate stress that, no matter how hard I tried to keep it to myself, still niggled it’s way into my family life. But I worry and wonder what lesson this will impart on our daughter later on. I’ve always been an advocate for fighting a good fight, often to the exasperation of my superiors who were of the “it’s always been this way, it always will be. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong, it is what it is,” mindset. That’s something I hope to pass along to our daughter and I hope that, when she learns that I walked away from something so much a part of my life, she’ll understand that changing priorities in your life can often change your perspective and willingness to ride a bad wave. On the other hand, I hope it doesn’t undermine her own future willingness to kick the established “it is what it is” philosophers in the teeth.

How about you? Do you think of the short and long term aspects of how your decisions may be viewed by your children – and emulated or not?


Swistle said...

Oh, interesting question! I don't give it much thought, because I was so oblivious to my own parents' career issues. I wouldn't have been proud of them for standing up for themselves at work or whatever---it would have been completely a non-issue to me, and nothing I would have applied to my idea of my own future life. I was much more influenced by the stuff they said at home.

And off-topic for the question but another interesting point you raised: I think the lesson that "sometimes you kick them in the teeth, sometimes you ride it out" is one of the best life lessons a kid can learn.

Lylah M. Alphonse said...

Fighting to the end isn't necessarily winning, just as switching gears, retreating, or even throwing in the towel isn't necessarily losing. Context is important. I think that's what your daughter will take away from this, if anything -- that it's OK to reasses your situation and realign your priorities if need be...

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