Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wise Words from David Foster

I am a happy subscriber to 'HELLO! Canada' magazine.  It's entertaining without being too trashy and I freely admit to enjoy reading about the many celebrities and royal families that reside in our world.  It is all pleasingly escapist and I apologize to no one for my weekly hit of pleasure.

In the context of the difficulties being experienced in my larger family, there is a line offered up by David Foster, the music producer, in my most recent edition (23 November 2009), which has played on me ever since first reading it.  It is as follows:

"When you have children, you are only as happy as your saddest child."

There is a strong ring of truth to this line.  I know that as a parent and step-parent, I am impacted by the physical, emotional, spiritual, social, academic and employment situations that my children find themselves in.  I ride up with them for the highs and down with them for the lows.  It gets tricky trying to balance one child's high while a sibling is experiencing a low - as many parents have surely experienced.

My thoughts are with my own mother at this time as she deals with situations impacting her children.  She is the one I am most concerned about, as are those who know her and love her.

Our hearts are so expanded by the children in our lives - for better or worse.

To your happiness!

Wondering Woman

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What next?

My extended family is in a muddle.  I am finding it all to be very divisive in my conversations and my ponderings. 

I know that we are best served not to impose our values upon others, that our lives are "unfolding as they should", that none of us has the market on truth cornered, that we are all starring in the movies of our own lives, that "times have changed", that what's good for Jack may not be good for Jill...

Fine.  As we each bring our own experiences, points of view, knowledge, reflections, opinions and thoughts to any discussion or situation, naturally there will be differences.  We all operate with different needs, different motivations, different temperments, different codes, different understandings of what is true or what is right or what is good. 

I happen to bear a personality that places a high value on truth and respects the eternal wisdom that with freedom comes responsibility.  In recogniton of the fact that I am an adult role model for young people (I am both a parent and a teacher), I feel an even greater responsibilty to manage my conduct, my behaviours, my speech and my attitudes.  As I pay attention to those around me in all walks, I understand that my bar seems to be set a little high. I relax my moral standards or do I learn to cut people some slack?  I often feel isolated in my points of view, sometimes thinking it must simply be the plight of the first-born.  However, I have known many other first-borns in their respective family constellations who are not similarly afflicted - quite the opposite, in fact.  If not birth order, perhaps my views are a reflection of the temperment that I was born with - for better or worse.  There are not necessarily any answers to be had; rather, my task in the days and weeks ahead - particularly as we creep towards the socially- and emotionally-laden Christmas season, will be to strike the balance between honoring my feelings and experiences and honoring the feelings and experiences of those nearest and dearest to me.

My instincts at this time are to fall back, let the dust settle, keep my concerns and opinions to myself, and get on with my life- without ruffling any feathers along the way.  I am feeling this way in response to the fact that I am actually feeling very, very angry about the situation and the way that the adults involved are handling it.  And yet, who am I to throw stones from the front porch of my own glass house?  Ironically, I feel myself channeling the opinions of my (very opinionated) deceased father - whether I like it or not.  He would have had no tolerance for the situation that our extended family is dealing with and it would have been very clear to all.  In my bias, I sense that our larger family is dealing with issues and difficulties that scrape at the core of universal truths.  What is right?  What is honour?  What is loyalty?  What is duty?  What amount of self-indulgence is required to balance the needs of others with the need to satisfy the self and keep the "well" replenished?

Most of all, I am surprised by the strength of my feelings - perhaps because the situation is touching damaged nerves resulting from the demise of my own first marriage.  If nothing else, there is one thing that I continue to be reminded of, loudly and clearly:  I cannot cope with being lied to.  My prayers, thoughts, and support are available to those who need them, contingent on the requirement that I am afforded the dignity of being told the truth.  Otherwise, I choose to "mind my own beeswax".

Wondering Woman

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why bother?

It's interesting how a day's events can wander from Halloween parades to flu pandemic concerns to the fragile state of marriages and relationships...

As I observe more and more marriages and relationships crumble, I am left wondering - why bother?  If ultimately many of us are in search of our true selves, why do we tangle other lives into our own?  How do we learn to balance our own needs with the needs of others - especially those we have make promises to and have invited into our lives by birth or by invitation?  At what point did we decide that committed relationships and families are actually disposable?  How bad do "things" have to be before we open the barn door and let the horses run out - never to return?  What is worth hanging on to, fighting for, preserving, cherishing, investing in?  What is powerful enough to allow us to decide not to hang on, not to fight, not to preserve, not to cherish, not to invest any more?

My thoughts are that all situations are positive, neutral or negative.  When there are children, families, extended families, social circles, financial structures, futures and expectations, "positive" is wonderful but surely "neutral" is tolerable.  If one's situation is truly negative (abusive, cruel, degrading, soul-destroying) then some sort of action is warranted - even if it ultimately means the demise of the relationship. 

I am a divorced person in a continuing high-conflict situation and have spent the past twelve years observing the toll it has taken on my children, my finances, my energy, my social life and my sanity.  In spite of being very happily remarried, I cannot erase the many, many negative effects on my children that their parents' decision not to continue in their marriage has had on them.  The event is long past but the children will carry the scars and stains for the rest of their lives. 

I would like to think that we, as a parenting generation, could all just grow up.  Who do we think we are?  How bad do we think our lives are?  What do we really expect from life and from others that we are not prepared to deliver ourselves?  Why was the previous generation so mature in their understanding of duty, obligation, and responsibility to others while we seem to be more interested in our understanding of duty, obligation and responsibility to ourselves?  It seems rather unfair to the next generation.  Actions do speak louder than words.  As our children mature into their own adult lives, will there be enough role models to assist them in their understanding of the depth and seriousness of the commitments that they will make some day - especially if they decide to start a family?  I am worried that many will simply say, "Why bother?"

Two simple words which rise as a challenge to all who would enter in relationship with others before they have taken the time to satisfy a healthy relationship with themselves.

Your somewhat disillusioned
Wondering Woman