Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Life Is Not Fair ... Obviously

Well, we've all heard the statement that life is not fair .... usually when whining about some slight, imagined or real. So what is it about some of us that makes us want to see a world that is fair while others love exploiting the fact that it is not? I'm a member of the former group. I so want to follow the 'Golden Rule' and treat others as I would have them treat me. I've tried to live my life that way. I cannot fathom the type of individual that has no compunction about causing emotional or physical harm to others. But, those people exist too. The struggle doesn't seem to be maintaining the type of demeanor we are born with on a day to day basis. It comes easy for me to be polite and friendly ... even to the random grocery store clerk. The challenge though is not to change my behavior in the face of being treated unfairly or rudely by another individual. I guess it is human nature to strike back but, even knowing that, I have usually tried to reason that that type of behavior is more about the other person than it is about me. I taught my children to try to think that way too. This usually works and, after all, most rude interactions are brief and more or less impersonal. Another driver may make an obscene gesture or a store clerk is snippy and we absorb that and move on ... shake it off. So, what happens when we run up against an individual who has made it his or her purpose to make someone else's life miserable? On the face of it, we can rationalize that this individual is obviously miserable in their own skin and must therefore lash out at others. Okay, I get that. But, it doesn't make taking it any easier when I am the one that is being lashed out against. It is frustrating, it is unfair, it is 'crazy-making' and it is something that generally speaking is almost impossible to deal with in our society. Sure one could seek legal recourse .... thus costing oneself a lot of money. How is that fair? Not being the kind of person to sink to the level of such an individual it is even more disconcerting to have to deal with the bad behavior on a regular basis. If I have mentioned to another person a particular scenario that has taken place in my life, it is surprising how many other people have experienced similar situations. Why is it okay for bad behavior to be tolerated in our society? Why is the onus on the person being harrassed or victimized to have to pay for intervention? The simple answer is that 'life is not fair.' Well, great! I don't think that there will be any sea change in my lifetime. In fact, I feel that its likely that the bad behavior of Americans will increase exponentially as we become more and more impersonal with one another due to technological developments. But, I'm going to continue to conduct myself at a level that refuses to treat my fellow man as less than human. And furthermore, I am going to continue to follow the Golden Rule. As for the mean, nasty people of the world ... well, it is my personal belief that they are creating their own hell and that by living their lives in a toxic and destructive way that the main person they will destroy is themselves. I believe in Karma and Karma may be the best equalizer that there ever is.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Daughter, My Friend

Amanda came into the world on May 22, 1987 ... very much hoped for, very much wanted. My mother commented that she was an 'old soul' when she was only months old. Amanda was a beautiful baby ... easier than her older brother Blair in that she went to sleep easily and she would simply observe her world between eating and sleeping. I must confess that while dealing with a rowdy two and a half year old boy, she sometimes just drifted off to sleep in the playpen. Amanda didn't need to be in a playpen but it protected her from the 'exuberance' of her brother, who only knew one speed ... full out. Our girl talked at 14 months ... in full sentences. One of her first statements was that she 'wanted to go to the mall.' Little did we know where this would lead. The girl still loves shopping and fashion to this day, having pursued a course of study in same. She did all of the usual things girls do ... played sports, danced, cheered and made and lost friends along the way. But, the thing that not many people initially understood about Amanda is that underneath her lovely exterior, her typical girliness, there has always lived a capacity for compassion and love that she could not always show. She is honest and loyal to a fault but a person would not find this out unless they stuck around long enough to allow her to show her vulnerabilities ... because Amanda has a tendency to deflect and protect herself by occasionally being prickly. To know Amanda is to understand this and love her all the more. So, the adventure of raising this daughter has been fun, sometimes trying but ultimately rewarding in a way that only a mother can fully understand about their own offspring. A mother wants happiness for her child but is willing to support that child through any sorrows. It has been said that a mother is only as happy as her least happy child. I feel this is so true. And now, I am happy. You see, my daughter was recently engaged to her sweetheart of nearly seven years. As a parent, one worries when a child falls in love at a young age ... will they be careful, will they be smart, will they fulfill their dreams. I had all of these worries and now I can say that ... yes, they were and yes they are. I can honestly feel that they have worked toward a wonderful and healthy relationship and I do not doubt that they will have a successful marriage. Along the way, Amanda and I have grown in our relationship too. We are more than mother and daughter ... we are friends. As our relationship changes I look forward to planning her wedding. She is already wise but, if there is any wisdom I can impart regarding marriage and children all she need do is ask. I trust her to do the right thing and I will be there to support her and her family. I am so proud of this child of mine ... not for anything accomplished as much as just for the person that she is. I think her grandmother was right ... she often seems wise beyond her years. I think this will hold her in good stead as she moves to the next phase of her life and I wish her joy, laughter and love along the way.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Galfriends and Getaways

One of the best new trends seems to be women planning getaways with their women friends. I don't think this went on during my own mother's generation. Why, the thought of leaving the husband behind and spending the money to go off with friends probably would have put most women of Mom's generation into a tailspin. I don't know who the brave women were that pioneered this idea but I thank them mightily. My escapes with my best women friends are some of the times I cherish the most in my life. It doesn't matter what we do ... we aren't the Vegas kind of gals. We like nice accomodations and lots of time to talk, take walks, talk some more and pamper each other with good food and wine. We aren't on the prowl ... we are simply reconnecting with the people who know and have known us the best for most of our lives. My favorite getaways are with women I have known since I was a small child. We know each others' histories ... we have weathered the storms of life by standing side by side and propping up the person who needed it most at any given time. And, there have been storms ... broken hearts, split marriages, deaths of loved ones and just the growing pains that come with raising children. These women get it ... and they get me ... and I get them. We can go days, weeks and even months without talking but when we get together we are generally up-to-speed in short order. But, the weekends are not about the painful episodes in life ... the weekends are about celebrating the friendships we have. It is wonderful to break away from our daily routines and have all the time in the world just to interact. Its nice not to have to prepare a meal unless we are hungry ... to talk until the wee hours if we feel like it ... and to know that we can unburden our hearts to individuals that we can truly trust and who have proven over time that we can take in whatever is told to us and hold it in our hearts and wish the best for good friends just because we love each other. I think that my good friends would stand up for me if I commited murder ... heck, they might even help me hide the body. Of course, I am only joking about that but the sense I have from my friends is that they know me well enough to understand what motivates my actions and I feel the same about them. So, all that being said, I am very happy with the concept of galfriend getaways. I can't think of a better way to celebrate friendship and to reconnect with that part of myself that exists outside of marriage and motherhood. These are my people and I am grateful for them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ah, The Weekend

We live in a nation that very clearly separates the work week from the 'weekend.' We tend to view the weekend as the reward at the end of a wasteland of work days. There is much groaning concerning Monday mornings, a small ray of hope on Wednesday (humpday) and the gleeful declaration of TGIF (thank God its Friday) at the beginning of our weekend. We make plans that often leave us more tired than relaxed come Sunday night. Its a funny thing ... what happens to the weekend when the kids have all left home and a person is basically not in the work mode anymore. I don't particularly care if its Saturday or Thursday ... I can go do what I want whenever the spirit moves me... except, of course, for sporting events. I tend to forget that it is 'different' now for other people who must still be ready to get up in the morning and follow a routine. And, being a creature of habit, I have flailed around looking for a routine now that the alarm clock doesn't go off at 6:30 a.m. After all, I still have a working husband with places to go and things to do. But ultimately, it is a nice thing to have no routine ... or to create a routine for that particular day or week. If I get beyond the feelings that are unfamiliar to me it is really quite freeing. Places that are typically swamped on the usual weekend, lend themselves to leisurely perusal during the week. Traffic is nonexistent during the week, barring the rush hours. It is far easier to accomplish very many things. So, what is so special about weekends. Well, those kids that left are still looking forward to their weekends. They come home occasionally and we, as parents, get to fuss over them again ... for a bit. We can plan the bigger meals with the favorite foods, the holidays with all of their favorite decorations and just the ability to spend time with them while they are relaxing. So, even though everyday can be a fun day when one doesn't have to follow a routine ... we can still celebrate the weekends in that old-fashioned, American way ... TGIF.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Betrayal

Betrayal ... it sounds like such a mundane word. It should mean something to do with putting something on a tray but instead, it comes from the Latin 'tradere' to hand over, to help the enemy. So, someone who betrays another is, in fact, a traitor. I've been betrayed in my life and this is what happens in a nutshell. A friend I thought I could trust is a traitor to me for betraying a confidence or lying to me or commiting other disloyal acts and then the process of dealing with the loss of the friendship begins. It hurts, there is grieving and anger and I vow that this will never happen again. But, who am I kidding. Short of building a moat around my house, getting rid of all forms of communication and never going out, I am going to interact with people, I am going to have new people coming into my life and I am going to get hurt again .... eventually. So, the real question becomes 'How do I vet these new people to ensure I won't get hurt?' The short answer is that I can't. But I am learning. I am learning a lot about human nature but, more importantly, I am learning more about myself. The biggest part of what I am learning is that I can survive these betrayals ... large and small. I'm learning to trust myself enough to know that even when a friend is no longer a friend I will survive and move on. I have learned that I am not a product of the wrongs that are done to me but that how I choose to respond (or not) to a given situation is the thing that will bring me the most strength. I have learned that the bigger the hurt inflicted on a fellow human being, the more damaged the inflictor of said pain probably is ... and that is their problem, not mine. It seems like a lot to learn this late in life. Sometimes it seems too much and very depressing; however, I can then remind myself that my oldest and best friends are still here, that if I lived the majority of my life not experiencing such things then I've been lucky indeed and, finally, the best revenge for any hurt is a life well lived. And so, I carry on with the parts of my life that are joy filled and I say goodbye to the negative hurtful individuals and hope that they can find a way to exist in life without the kind of anger that makes them hurt others to feel better about themselves. I know I am going to be just fine.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Things They Tell You, But ....

I have often read articles which make the statement that there are things no one tells you about a given situation. On the other hand, there are a lot of things that people do tell. The question then becomes, do people listen or, if they listen, do they believe what they hear. I cannot remember a time when I did not want to grow up and become a mother. Even as a child, I would spend a lot of time dressing all of my dolls in their little night clothes and putting them into their cradle. I did not, however, rush into it and was in my 30's by the time I was blessed with my two children. I wanted my children completely and so waiting for them to arrive was a time of joy. My mother knew that I was ecstatic so she did not have to tell me how I would feel as a mother but she implied that it would be wonderful. The pictures of my children's faces upon their arrival in this world are permanently etched upon my mind and heart. So, even though people told me that Iwould be happy and love motherhood, no one could have prepared me for the complete and utter surrender to the love of my son and daughter. I was smitten immediately and with that the need to protect and defend kicked in. I believe I really would have cut off my right arm had it been required to save them. There is no way that you can understand that kind of love until you experience it first hand. And, there is also no way anyone could have told me how tired I would be and for how long. Nightly feedings, childhood illnesses and good old-fashioned worry meant many a sleepless night. I remember my mom telling me that 'this too would pass.' She said that I should enjoy that time because it was the very short time when I could make everything better for my kids, kiss the hurt and make it better, snuggle with them and scare away the monsters. I didn't get it, I was just tired. Now I get it. The children got older, their problems and hurts got more complicated and I could not fix them. I could comfort them but I couldn't make the pain go away and this was cause for more sleepless nights and so much more pain for me than anyone other than a mother could understand. Then, one day they were grown and gone and the final thing that I didn't understand prior to that moment ... even if I had heard it from other mothers ... is how empty I would feel, how adrift from my purpose in life. But, I would not trade that journey for anything else ... not for a minute. I learned how to truly love, how to be truly selfless, and I learned that just when things seem unbelievable bleak, great joy is hiding right around the corner.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Introducing ... Me

Blogging is new to me ... reading them and writing one ... especially writing one. I do like to write, however, and perhaps this will be the perfect tool to share my humble thoughts. I am a woman, 50 something, married and an empty nester. I've live a fairly blessed life ... good family, did not want for much and that state of existence continued with my own children. I have two, a girl and a boy, both very much wanted and loved and both blessings in my life. They are grown now, graduated from college and out living their lives. And with that, my job description changed. I was never one of those women who second-guessed my decision to stay home with my children. It was the thing I wanted to do and I loved almost all of it ... temper tantrums and projectile vomiting notwithstanding. So, having had the world by the tail, I thought that when the time came to let go that it would not be difficult ... that I could 'get on with my life.' I didn't know that I would question every single thing about my existence ... I didn't take into consideration that I might miss my children so much that I would not want to get out of bed let alone get on with life. And so, the name of my blog ... Putting One Foot in Front of the Other, because that is the only thing I felt like doing some days. I hope that this blog will serve to talk myself through the process of reclaiming my life and if anyone discovers that it helps them too or that they can relate ... all the better.