It has been an interesting week. Actually, the past 248 weeks have been pretty interesting when I think about it, but THIS week in particular have sparked four observations of things I kind of already knew but the way they occurred to me this week have me on the verge of leading a social revolution. At least, I WOULD lead a social revolution if I knew more people, didn’t hide from most of the ones I do know and wasn’t too sleep deprived to lead more than a toddler Congo line to the spilled goldfish on the floor (crackers, not creatures).
Observation 1: The power of shared experience to encourage and inspire. I know this from almost every area of my life. There are people who have gone through some of the same challenges I have and the fact that they walked through it intact and shared their experience, strength
and hope with me has given me unfathomable gifts and continues to do so daily. On the parenting front, I have felt like a fish out of water pretty much from that first double pink line 4 years and 10 months ago and so have been much more a taker of inspiration than giver, in my opinion. However, this week circumstances were such that I could go out with all THREE of my littles several times throughout the week. I swear, EVERY TIME, I’d encounter a parent with ‘just one’ baby, or with a toddler and a newborn at home. They’d look at my crew with usually undisguised horror, make the ubiquitous full hands remark, but then share something about their struggle. Whether it was the first time mom of a three-month-old with her own mom in the grocery store nervously confessing how scared she was of toddlerhood, or the Dad walking with his little princess (literally, another princess dress-wearer) telling me they just had a second newborn and Dad’s FREAKING OUT, or countless other people who are just starting to walk through a version of something I have done I have felt so fortunate that I can actually GIVE encouragement based on what was at times very challenging.
Observation 2: My experience in my life is a series of minute-by-minute conscious choices and my choices have a staggering amount of power. This is also true in every aspect of my life. For most of my life I never felt particularly significant or important and so many times I hurt people without ever considering I had the power to do so. Kids take this to a whole new level. I am their everything and they don’t have the ability to put anything in perspective. When I am having a bad day, or raging PMS and want to run away from my life, I can’t. They follow me, anyway, but I can’t. I can’t freak out and say horrible things. Well, actually, I can and that’s the staggering part. Deciding to be a Mom didn’t automatically make me a perfect, good person who never says bad words any more than deciding to be a Christian did. I can still be a complete jerk but the aftermath is way more damaging and so I have a responsibility to behave better, say sorry more and make better choices. Like I said, this is a minute-by-minute thing.
Observation 3: We can do the right thing and not always be treated fairly or justly. I’ve been on a complete rampage for a couple weeks about the ridiculous state of maternity leave in the States, and how in most companies, having children will kill your career if you’re a woman. A notable exception I’ve heard of recently is Apple, who has very progressive maternity and paternity leave by US standards. It’s not just this but that’ s been my focus. The reality is you can do the right thing and feel like you’re being penalized for it. In the balancing act of motherhood, career, spousehood and whatever other hats you’re wearing, there’s a good chance you’re going to get discriminated against, alienated, shunned or just gossiped about because your decision or choice doesn’t align with someone else’s expectations. I know when this happens that acceptance is the key to seeing where the door that is open leads (and there is ALWAYS one in these situations). If I’m bitter and angry about the closed window I’m unattractive to better things.
Observation 4: Gratitude is everything! When I forget that, things don’t work well and I like it when things work well. I realized this week that pretty much EVERYTHING in my life today that is wonderful, fun, life-affirming and completely awesome were things I either didn’t want or was scared of when I first encountered it. Everything! And as much as I love my life, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t want what I have. And that doesn’t make my life any less perfect for me, or theirs any less perfect for them. It’s really all just perspective and this is one area where we can all be right.
So, I think this could be a social revolution because without the backbiting, infighting, self-loathing, constant comparing, lack of acceptance and crappy stupid corporate view on mothers there would be massive disruption in multiple industries that might make way for something better, brighter and more life affirming. Which I think would be amazing. So join me…or better yet, just go on ahead without me. I’ll catch up later, when it’s not so crowded and I’ve caught up on my sleep!